Martyn Christian, Director, Demand Programs Marketing & Communications, IBM UK & Ireland
Martyn began the presentation focused on FileNet, a company acquired by IBM in which he ran the customer loyalty program. Some of the challenges faced by FileNet was that customers were becoming increasingly concentrated – meaning this was a business based 75% on renewals, sales teams were hunters, not farmers, and likewise their enterprise solutions did not have good brand image and packaging.
Martyn discussed the types of survey processes they followed, but more importantly he also focused on the commitment of executives that really drove the program. While in the beginning their goals were specific to increased revenue and profitability, the NP became a critical business metric as well, showing over approximately a 4 year timeframe an improvement from -6 to +20%. For those of you tracking your own NPS, you realize this shift is hard to do without a great deal of focus.
Martyn attributes this great success in which they created a community of positively focused customers as a key differentiator and most likely made them an attractive acquisition target for IBM.
All was not rosey, however, Martyn also depicted some of the trials and tributions – a few of these:
- That people generally dissent at first
- That you have to actively engage the organization, not just hope that it happens,
- That you have to have a lot of patience.
While FileNet collected customer feedback through surveys, they also followed a multi-pronged strategy for customer experience improvement – including customer case studies, internal evangelism, creating a loyalty council, creating sales tools for distribution to prospects about their focus on the customer.
In addition, FileNet focused as well on making customer feedback part of the organizational scorecard, especially for organizations that did not seem as committed to the customer.
Some of the biggest wins, Martyn attributed to their program . . .
- When you have high net promoters score and customers willing to talk for you, there are huge sideline benefits. They were able to significantly increase the number of customers who would speak on your behalf.
- They tied compensation for everyone to the program.
- In terms of funding, the CFO owns the budget (now this one was really innovative!!). Martyn wisely pointed out that having the CFO own budget meant that the budget was less likely to be cut and that the CFO looked carefully at ways that would enhance customer focused efforts that also had positive business impact.
- Recognizing people internally for superior customer service
In transitioning from the FileNet story, Martyn spoke about IBM as a company that has acquired over 100 companies since 1995. Of course this can create dramatic confusion in terms of customer relationships. One of the first moves in understanding the FileNet customer experience vs. the IBM customer experience was to understand the core overlapping customers. They found that 75% of FileNet customers were not in a relationship with IBM.
One of their strategies, therefore, was to introduce educational marketing documents referred to as CALM (customer acquisition loyalty marketing.) With these documents, they could begin to communicate the values, expectations, etc. which opened the communication channels. As a result, those customers that overlapped had an increase in their positive perception of the combined companies by 200%, while the neutral perceptions decreased by 400%.
The latter half of the presentation was a story of how a company that was acquired tries to get out in front of customer communications. The end result is that active dialogue can in fact create positive perception. While some companies would use a wait and see strategy, clearly FileNet and IBM did not fall into this camp.