If CRM has been a struggle or a passion for you then Infosys’ CRM blogs is the place to be in. Come join us as we discuss the latest trends, innovations and happenings which will have a bearing on CRM.

September 16, 2014

Evolution of Service Management: Part 2

Posted by Javed Shaikh, Senior Consultant, Oracle Practice, Manufacturing Unit, Infosys


Some time or the other, we all have faced an issue with a product. Familiar reaction to such situation is that first we check the user manual, call the manufacturer's call center, and some enthusiast will jump to internet to search for a solution. The customer will find hundreds of pages thrown at him for the search he made. He might stumble upon the right page which might resolve his issue or he might not. In case of unsuccessful search, the customer will revert back to manufacturer for resolution.

Once issues start to crop up for a certain product line, the service\call centers are filled with complaints and the brand is affected with negative publicity. As a thumb rule, when products work as expected or satisfactorily, we do not see many positive reviews for the product, but a bad experience spreads like wildfire in the connected world. It's the manufacturer choice either to act reactively and resolve issues as and when raised or act proactively and let the customer know the issue and resolve the same.

Most of the times, there are minor issues which can be resolved with some change in settings or some workarounds. There are scenarios where manufacturer is aware of the issue and has resolution for the same. There are also cases where some end users find resolution or workaround to a common issues. One will find lot of independent forums where customer share their product experiences as well as resolutions to commonly occurring problems. The solution can exist anywhere on the World Wide Web other than the manufacturer's official website. Now as a manufacturer, it is of paramount importance to have these solutions collected for their products and pushed to customers when required on a real-time basis.

To achieve the same, the customer needs a web crawler to constantly monitor webpages which has any mention of its product and problems on the web. The manufacturer needs to identify and verify useful information regarding the product and update knowledge base. This information would form a library that it contains all possible errors the machine can face and all possible resolution to the same.

Going further in the interconnected world, when an error occurs on one of the customer's machines, the machines should be able to access this content using key words or machine inputs, follow the steps as per content to resolve the issue, which would be a case of Self-Service. This would mostly be applicable to software related issues or minor setting changes.

In case the machine decides as per prewritten algorithm in the content management tool that it is a simple issue, but needs human intervention, the machine should be able to communicate with the customer either through screen alert or voice alert. Once attended, the system should guide the user to perform tasks as per steps provided by the content management tool to resolve a problem, which would be a case of Assisted Self Service. This would be applicable to cases where a novice end user can follow simple instructions as presented by the machine and resolve the issues.

In third scenario, if as per the algorithm the issue is a bigger one and needs an expert for resolution, the machine directly communicated with the manufacturer's system and creates a service request.  Service request resolution should follow a typical field service management life cycle. This would be applicable to scenario where an expert intervention is required and normal users would not be able to complete the required task.

For above to work, the content management would be of outmost important. The steps towards problem resolution would need to be appropriately aligned such that it should be able to nail down the exact problem area and resolution for the same. As discussed in the earlier blog, the intelligent machines should also need to provide correct inputs to the content management tool. The marriage between machines and the content should help the manufacturers to resolve a reasonable number of issues cost effectively, which should lead to high customer satisfaction and less load of service\call centers.


Evolution of Service Management: Part 1

Posted by Javed Shaikh, Senior Consultant, Oracle Practice, Manufacturing Unit, Infosys


With the world changing so rapidly, it's no wonder that services would continue only in traditional way. This blog will make an attempt to visualize how service management would change and respond as a result of changes in the external environment. In this context, I shall talk about intelligent machines and its impact on service management.

In the changing world, we are already witnessing machines becoming more intelligent and less mechanical. With the constant falling prices of electronic components, we should be having increased number of machines connected with the world we live in. We already have a boom in internet connectivity across the globe and unimaginable internet speeds with the developed nations leading from the front. The convergence of machine intelligence and spread of internet connectivity would definitely open up more opportunities in the area of field service.

Intelligent machines would be able to capture their health and operating details pretty easily. With connectivity reaching all the corners of the globe and everything being made available on a global network, it should not be a difficult task to capture/send the machine operating/health details to the manufacturer's system in the near future.  In today's world, most of these details are captured manually and most of the servicing events are reactive of nature than preventive/predictive. With the changes we are witnessing in today's connected world, the need for human intervention to capture details would be abolished and the machines would directly interact with the systems.

There can be innumerable scenarios across verticals which would get benefitted with direct conversion between machines and systems:
1. All machines which have malfunctioned and need repair.
2. Scenarios where there is need for replenishment for engine oil, refrigerants, coolants, ink cartridge, filters, etc.
3. Early warnings signs of an impending failure due to ageing or abuse of components
4. Regular maintenance at life milestones of the machine

Let's take an example of a simple water purifier filter change event: For a water purifier, when the filter in the purifier has passed its life and there is need to change the filter. In today's world, there are machines which indicate the customer to change the filter, but the customer has to react to the information provided by mostly visuals and replace the filter. In the connected world, when the filter is nearing its end, the purifier directly connects to the manufacturer's system, creates a lead in the system. A call center agent calls up the customer and checks whether he wants to change the filter. On confirmation with the customer, a service request is created and a field technician is dispatched to change the filter.


Another scenario, where self-service is an option, the machine checks with the customer if he wants to order new filter. On confirmation, an order is created in the manufacturer's system, order is processed, customer is charged, and item is dispatched. Filter reaches the customer address and is replaced by the customer.

Below are some of the benefits accruing to the manufacturers when the intelligent machines seamlessly integrate with the manufacturers CRM system.
1. Increased revenue and profitability for the manufacturer
2. Real-time asset operational data availability in the manufacturer system
3. Increase in customer satisfaction
4. Increase in longevity of the machine
5. Barrier of entry for third party services
6. Change of parts/consumables when actually change is required rather than a time based or cycle based service call

In the next edition, I would try to focus on content management and its impact on the service management.

September 9, 2014

Salesforce ORG Consolidation : "To do, or not to do, that is the question" (Part 2 of 2)

This is part 2 of two part series blog.   The first part is available at this link.   Part 1 covered the overview of the needs for multiple ORGs and the case for both single and multiple ORGs.   This part covers factors to consider and recommended steps, should the organization proceeds to consolidate multiple ORGs. 

Continue reading "Salesforce ORG Consolidation : "To do, or not to do, that is the question" (Part 2 of 2)" »

September 3, 2014

Salesforce ORG Consolidation : "To do, or not to do, that is the question" (Part 1 of 2)

Corporations often go thru' consolidation in the form of mergers and acquisitions and business functioning have a direct bearing on IT operations.  If the organizations had adopted CRM / Salesforce.com before consolidation, chances are that one ends up with multiple instances.  Although not unusual, bigger organizations often have multiple autonomous divisions that may be managing its own CRM operations without centralized IT governance, which leads to multiple instances.   In some cases, customer facing operations (viz. Marketing, Sales, and Support) between divisions are very unique and custom tailored, again leading to multiple instances.  The question often comes up is, should these multiple instances be consolidated...

Continue reading "Salesforce ORG Consolidation : "To do, or not to do, that is the question" (Part 1 of 2)" »

September 1, 2014

                CRM Mobility and Evolution of CRM as a Customer Experience Management Hub

Retail is changing and for good. With the exploding smartphone presence and now the wearable gadgets marketing starting to take-off, retailers are looking to change the way they engage with customers. From virtual supermarkets to creating 3D models of the purchaser - the retailers are looking at various innovations to maximize the advantage of mobile and get closer to the customer and provide a more personalized experience.  In this whitepaper I will give a brief of some of the very interesting innovations and how it's turning traditional CRM systems into more of a Digital Hub of customer information which will act as a back end support system to support customer engagement across different channels.

Virtual Supermarkets - Heard of Virtual Supermarkets? Looks like retailers have decided to "come" closer to you - be Omni Present - obviously for your convenience. Tesco & Yihaodian( China's large food ecommerce retailer)  are experimenting with virtual supermarkets via billboards and augmented reality. Tesco launched its first virtual supermarket in a subway station in South Korea. They have installed a large billboard which looks like a regular supermarket shelve - the only difference is this is virtual and images of products are displayed along with their QR codes. Customers can scan  the QR codes of the displayed products and place an order which is then delivered to their homes. The strategy makes productive use of commuters' waiting time, while simultaneously saving shopper's time spent going to the supermarket. Yihaodian, is taking a slightly different approach to virtual shopping by using augmented reality as against billboards. These augmented reality stores can be accessed via mobile devices and since these are purely virtual, unlike billboards which require physical spaces, these stores can be setup anywhere. People with mobile phones can view a full stocked supermarket on their smart phone/ tables and place the order online. Yihaodian plans to create each of these supermarkets with a floor space of 1200 sq meters and stock 1000 items at a time. These two indicate a very interesting approach taken by both retailers to reach closer to the consumers and enhancing the customer experience. Also, it effectively means these stores can be opened anywhere

With wearable gadgets beginning to go mainstream, these digital interactions can be more customized. Consider how easy it will be for someone with a google glass to access the Yihaodian augmented reality superstore. If we add a "touch device" on the finger tips that can read and transmit these codes to your mobile then shopping will become a breeze in these virtual stores. Your google glass shows you the store and the products. You use your finger (with the device on) to scan the products and mobile to review and complete payment! Same for billboards - instead of having to scan every product using a phone if I could use a device attached to my finger it will make shopping a much more rewarding experience.

I-Clothing - South Korean Retailer, Shinsegae has opened the first virtual store wherein in the shop you go into a room where a three dimensional scanner scans your body to create a 3D avatar for you. Once the avatar is created you can scan the RFID tag of any item you want to try and it will appear on your avatar. This makes the process of trials very easy and the avatar can be encrypted and stored on Smart Card. This has huge potential of impacting online shopping of clothes. One of the key constraints and reasons for return when we shop online is "inability to try out the clothes". So either people don't buy because they are unsure or once the product arrives and they are unhappy with fitting they return the product. But if we have the ability to store a 3D Avatar and do a virtual tryout of clothes this will help online shopping and reduce the number of returns. On top if we are able to share 3D avatars among friends on mobile devices, this will mean we can utilize online shopping for online gift's too! A Canadian company called triMirror has been working on 3D Virtual reality technology that provides similar feature allows the try-on of real clothes on real-dimensioned and highly customizable avatar bodies, and which allows the user to see where the garment is tight or loose, where it juts out or sags down, and how it behaves when they move around in various ways.

The other areas like instore marketing, mobile payments, instore navigations etc are all undergoing transformation owing to newer technologies. For e.g. iBeacon, the low energy Bluetooth technology in the IOS devices is garnering a lot of attention as it enables micro-location services and to trigger actions within apps. Apple has started rolling out iBeacon's in all Apple retail stores with the objective of providing personalized offers to the customers as they walk into the store or at various other strategic points in the store. Similarly Macy's, one of America's oldest retailer is doing a beta trial of micro location services using iBeacons. Same is the case with American Eagle Outfitters which will be rolling this out across 100 U.S. Outlets.

Traditional CRM as Digital Customer Experience Hub

The central theme in all above examples is that all these innovations are focused on your smartphone or smart devices and on personalization of your experience across these channels and these are not really driven by the leading CRM vendors. There are a few key takeaways from these points

(1) Innovations to the customer engagement across channels will continue to grow and will not necessarily be driven by the leading CRM vendors or dominated by a single company

(2) Retailers will have to ensure they manage a consistent experience across these channels

(3) Traditional CRM systems will have to integrate with these expanding channels of engagement" of digital hub comes in.

What this means is that Customers will have to start treating the traditional CRM systems to act as the hub for not just storing customer information but also for "managing" a unified customer experience across various channels of interaction. Basically CRM system will form the core (a digital hub) for planning various events and orchestrating these across the channels and for processing the data captured across these channels. It will also provide data to warehouses for BI reporting. So you will do your planning and processing in the traditional tools but more and more action on customer front will move to mobile devices. For e.g. if you have a promotional offer you start with planning it in the CEX hub. The offer is then published via web services that the customer facing channels can "consume" - so you buy from a virtual store or through web or walk into an iBeacon enable store, you will get the same offer. Similarly all orders from different channels will be sent to the centralized CRM system to process these orders. The support team will have access to all these information in the CEX hub and address any customer grievances. Also based on orders, customer profile, loyalty information etc. in the system, personalized marketing campaigns can be run by the CRM system and published to customer through the various channels.

August 21, 2014

Proof of Concept - Crossing the point of Go-No-Go

In my last blog "Proof of Concept" - A key to Customer Relationship", I had discussed about the PoC that Infosys did for a European Telecom service provider and the various learning's and important take-away's from it.

For a quick recap, these are some of the key factors which should be considered for approaching a Proof of Concept in CRM space.    

1)     Approach - Defining the scope baseline.

2)     Scope - Implementing a strategic and robust solution at a very generic level.

3)     Solution - A "Proof of Concept" model to essentially possess following capabilities:

o    Robust Architecture

o    Adaptability  

o    Scalability

o    Added Benefits

4)     Ownership - Individual component experts, to be proactive in suggesting the right solution approach for the requirements that impacts their component.

5)     Delivery - To manage both "Deliverable" items and "Assessment" items.

6)     Resource skill sets - Benefit to have resources, having technical awareness on multiple applications.

7)     Estimation and Staffing plan - To account for adequate contingency efforts.

The detailed blog can be found at this location: 

Title: "Proof of Concept" - A key to Customer Relationship"


With this blog, I have tried highlighting some of the crucial parameters related to customer demo, documenting the artifacts and Infosys's PoC outcome.

1.     Customer Demo - Customer demo serves as a clearance window, the point of go-no go. All the aspects covered in the PoC, including, supporting business roadmap, factors that impacts managing customer relationship, system architecture planning, design, implementation and the solution outcome converges on to this particular point, called customer demo. These are some important points that needs to be taken care for a customer demo:

a)     Audience centric: Customer demo can happen more than once, attended by different type of audience, including, group of architects, sales team or business stakeholders. Different audience have different approach and expectations from the demo. Operation teams will approach a PoC demo from a process-impacts points of view, on the existing CRM or any other applications, while business stakeholders would be more interested in cost of actual implementation, future road-map of the products involved and business benefits that the new solution brings along. Hence, the demo content, approach, schedule and demo-length should be planned according to the audience attending it.

b)    Setting the context right: Always set the context first. A PoC is usually done to enhance or replicate existing systems, hence business teams already have a specific understanding of the existing business processes, customer data, in-life use cases etc. A demo is about showcasing specific set of functionality that may not utilize the complete set of existing processes or all the customer data. Hence, audience attending the demo should be aware of the approach and type of data that has been used in the solution. This helps in avoiding confusion and reduce the number of queries.

c)     Running the show smoothly: Customer demo should be in a smooth flow, to keep the audience engaged for the complete length of the demo. Any logistic issues needs to be taken care beforehand. Also give adequate time for the audience to understand the solution.

d)    Have backup plan ready: Always keep the backups ready. Screenshots, web recordings of the use-case solution or alternate test data should be in place, which can be used in case of some network or data issue encountered.

e)     Managing the issues: If a functionality does not work, the presenter or the team shouldn't panic. One should be able to explain the cause of issue and try to provide a point of view on the use case that was being showcased. This helps making customer and other audience comfortable. For ex. there can be an integration failure between a cloud CRM and an On-Premise application, due to network issues. Such situation can be handled by showcasing some flow or data representation on individual systems (a mock representation of the actual scenario).  

f)     Business specific queries: In every demo, one should be ready on business specific questions like future road-map of the products involved, overall solution fitting in customer's future business goals, what kind of best practices the new solution brings or what better one can suggest in the existing system/operational processes etc., apart from what has already been covered in the demo.

2.     Feedback - Take feedback from the customer but ensure asking only what customer can answer at that point. It's good to ask if everything what customer was expecting has been covered and if there is anything more which they would like to see or if they have any specific queries that has not been answered. The official and detailed feedback from the customer may come up after sometime via proper communication channel. It's always good to have a one to one casual note of thanks to specific business representatives, apart from collective thanks, at the end of the session. It helps, to a great extent, in building one-to-one professional relationship.

3.     Artifacts - Have a good documentation on the deliverable. It helps serving as a guide for others and can be referenced in future. Preserve the deliverable/code artifacts etc. so they can also be reused when the PoC transforms into a real project, at a later stage. Processes and solutions associated with Sales cycle, Customer Data management, Billing, Fulfillment, Inventory management etc. are more or less, similar across CRM space, irrespective of technologies on which they have been modeled. Hence, storing the solution model artifacts also helps in projecting them as a ready-made available solutions, by Infosys, for addressing similar business problems for different customers.

4.     PoC Outcome - For the PoC that was delivered, customer was impressed with the approach, planning and execution strategy of Infosys. The specific success criteria's that customer was looking for, were met. The most important use case that involved developing a flexible solution which encompasses integrated mechanism between Cloud and On-premise applications and exchanging of the customer data, between them, was achieved. This helped in building customer confidence and take the engagement to the next stage.

The key parameters, as explained in these blogs, played important role and helped meeting customer expectations by delivering a successful Proof-of-Concept solution.

Hence, with these two series of blogs we have seen different points which are key for approaching and delivering a successful "Proof of Concept". It's not the destination but a crucial stepping stone to take the client engagement to the next level.

I would like to end it with the same quote: "A small step of PoC, a giant leap for the Customer Relationship".



August 8, 2014

Integrated CPQ - Must have for your sales team

In my journey of work in CRM space for the past few days, I had opportunity to participate and learn about relatively new area commonly referred to as CPQ i.e. (Configuration, Pricing & Quote). It's not that these functional areas was not present earlier or not known to the world, all the leading CRM packages used to offer these functions inbuilt in some form or the other. Of course each CRM package had its own strength and weakness in these areas and their offering, which probably gave opportunity to specialized tools like Big Machines, Apttus, Selectica,cameleon among other to gain momentum and redefine this space. 

Continue reading "Integrated CPQ - Must have for your sales team" »

June 18, 2014

"Proof of Concept" - A key to Customer Relationship

A Proof of concept is used in order to demonstrate the feasibility of a certain idea or a method. It's a demonstration, the purpose of which is to verify that certain concepts or theories have the potential to transform or evolve into a real-world application. Hence, PoC is a prototype that is designed to determine feasibility, but not the deliverable. A Proof of concept is also known as proof of principle.

Continue reading ""Proof of Concept" - A key to Customer Relationship" »

June 11, 2014

Can Analytics add substance to marketing reports? - Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

In the previous blog, we have discussed about the common examples to show how use of advanced analytics help create marketing reports and provide better forecast and trends to customers. In this part, we will discuss in detail about the three key areas which we have identified as primary areas of innovation by use of analytics tools.

1. Industry trends and financials: An effective report must capture the industry trends and growth potentials. Analyst reports and predictions from Gartner, Forrester, IDC, and Reuters should be used to derive trend charts, analytics charts, visuals and dashboards. These can give a subject oriented dimensional model to the predictions, and can reflect a 360 degree-view of portfolio, performance and risk in business opportunities.

Continue reading "Can Analytics add substance to marketing reports? - Part 2" »

Can Analytics add substance to marketing reports? - Part 1

We are in an age where social media captures humongous data about the probable customer base for any product or service. Look at Facebook for example. You post a photo and mention where it is taken, say "at Burj Khalifa, Dubai", the Facebook page for that place will immediately increase the count of visitors for that place (e.g. the "Burj Khalifa" place will show "200209 people have been here" instead of previous "200208 people have been here").

Continue reading "Can Analytics add substance to marketing reports? - Part 1" »