Brexit

  • August 18, 2016
  • Over the summer multiple events have pushed me to the conclusion that CRM and government are natural complements and that it’s just a matter of time before they meet. It would represent a huge opportunity for the industry and my full thoughts are available in this white paper.

    The common denominator is people. Whether we’re dealing with government or with business people want and expect individualized attention to their needs and importantly, they socialize their ideas about products, services, and government in much the same way.

    Business quickly adopted CRM technologies over the last two decades while government has been steadfast in its outdated approaches. The differences in adoption rates between business and government can be traced to some of the disquiet we see in the political arena for example, the populism manifest in the Brexit vote and in the American presidential cycle.

    Where the approaches are similar

    The government approach was also the business approach until social media and CRM emerged as potent business forces in the last decade. Communication was through broadcast media usually in print media, and it was also one way. Capturing the voice of the customer/constituent was not often attempted partly because it was slow and expensive. If you wanted more you had to deal with a representative that didn’t have your best interests in mind. A visit to your local Registry of Motor Vehicles in the U.S. is usually all the proof one needs.

    But when social media came along, we all discovered how quickly an individual could influence a large audience. Some businesses got burned by the criticism and adopted CRM and its associated tools as fast as they could but government didn’t. Perhaps the relative scarcity of elections gave politicos the mistaken belief that there would always be time to fix something that broke. The recent Brexit vote in the UK should disabuse all of us of that belief.

    How they differ

    Business no longer waits for things to break and a quality regime based on the work of W. Edwards Demming has been a strong influence. Today we build quality into the manufacturing process eliminating defects before they occur or engineering them away. We build intuitiveness and ease of use into everything because we know that if we don’t a competitor will. This is where business and government diverge. There is often no alternative to your local, state, or national government though recent events show that the public is growing increasingly comfortable with “none of the above” as an option and that’s turning normal government functions into mush.

    Now, here’s the rub: CRM can’t help all of this, at least not immediately. If we’ve learned anything in the CRM age it is that we need to always be testing our assumptions, gathering data, and analyzing it to figure out next best actions and to discover new opportunities to serve. CRM does all of this very well, but its effect is not immediate. The trust involved in successful CRM takes much iteration to bear fruit.

    Getting started

    This is exactly why its time to apply what we know about CRM and customers to government and constituents. The one-way communication model between government and the people that was successful throughout the 20th century has fractured. People have been trained to expect nearly immediate response delivered to their personal devices on almost any subject. Print and broadcast media can’t do this partly because their business models place gates between people and information.

    Additionally, the journalism business model, which relies on advertising, has taken a hit from the rise of the Internet and the media now chases the controversy around a story rather than the story itself in order to attract the eyeballs that advertisers crave. Chasing controversy is less costly for the news gatherer but it often leaves consumers poorly informed or, even worse, informed about only one side of an issue. CRM would help to partially disintermediate news media from government further democratizing democracy in the process.

    Implementation

    How to pay for CRM in government is a tricky question. Many parties inside of government appreciate the status quo with its rules and procedures that make getting even simple things done quickly difficult. They’d have to be convinced of CRM’s appropriateness, seeing it as a benefit rather than a threat.

    If the model for CRM adoption in business is any guide, at some point the benefits will outweigh the detriments. Establishing the balance between enough and too little CRM is likely to be done through trial and error. At some point breakthrough success will happen in one, or more likely, several locations thus creating the momentum for rapid adoption. Until then we continue living in a world driven by technology and social media but mediated by twentieth century communications. It is an unstable situation and it cannot last.

     

    Published: 1 year ago


    Denis-PombriantThe great thing about the software world that I spend so much time in is that it is very much a meritocracy, imperfect to be sure, but a place where merit is usually rewarded. That’s why the controversy over the Brits voting to leave the European Union seems so strange.

    In CRM terms, the decision to leave the EU looks a lot like dissatisfied customers taking a walk. I just wrote a book about customer loyalty and the whole Brexit looks like a riff on the movie, “How to lose a guy in ten days” with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey. Everything looked so good at the beginning and watching it all go south was sometimes funny but also sad.

    If the EU could manage to find ways to alienate its constituents it didn’t miss many opportunities. In the vendor world could you imagine the same kinds of behavior? Over controlling, micro-managing, killing economies for the sin of over-spending, enabling chaotic borders, ignoring people’s feelings, and many other things drove the voting. At the end of the day, the vote wasn’t even close.

    CRM was developed precisely to help businesses to avoid the beaucratization that can leave customers out in the cold. Its many modules are designed to capture customer data, analyze it, and help vendors to make important decisions about what to do next—all in an effort to retain customers and keep them engaged. CRM is about proactive personalization and contextual interaction, two things in short supply in the EU.

    The Britons who voted to leave the union were not engaged in the European project. They’d spent the quarter century after the Maastricht Treaty absorbing the almost daily reality of big brother decision-making that too many didn’t think benefitted them.

    Unfortunately, another aspect of life with CRM might have contributed in some small way to the vote to leave. I am referring to the understanding, honed by increasing reliance on subscriptions, that one can unsubscribe from a vendor and move on whenever the mood strikes whether or not the mood is justified. No muss, no fuss, no need to consider the aftershocks to the vendor. Unfortunately, we’ve increasingly become accustomed to chasing the newest thing that coruscates with effulgence.

    But what works at a micro-economic level can be absolutely toxic when attempted on the macro plane. Governments are supposed to last and treaties are assumed to as well; they are the foundational elements on which we base decisions about the rest of our lives. They are never written in such stark terms as the GAAP accounting standards but those standards are a good example.*

    What’s most frustrating about the Brexit is that so much has gone on for so long and the channels of redress are so narrow that the only seeming solution was the vote that occurred last week. But as I’ve written before it seems there is, or should be, a pony in that pile of manure and there is.

    The EU was best when it did least. It was an economic union, a trading paradigm that enabled small countries to bypass the red tape inherent in national currencies and far too many border crossings each with their own rules. Computers can handle that work today and as for the rest of the EU? It would be nice if the EU members accepted that they’d overbuilt their union edifice, that what’s needed is less political union and simply more friction free commerce.

    On another level, I sense a business opportunity for CRM that dwarfs anything yet seen. For several years, the vendor community has been heads-down focusing on the consumerization of its software. Making the software that mediates relationships with customers as intuitive and friendly as possible is part of what drives the digitization wave.

    But a criticism of digitization has always been, for what purpose? The answer that is coming into view seems to be CRM for constituents rather than customers. Government outreach to citizens is too often bare-bones and decrepit. But what if we applied CRM ideas and technologies to government? No doubt there would be naysayers but I think their foot dragging would be in the service of a status quo that benefits too few and no longer works. It would be obvious and these naysayers could be discounted.

    A CRM approach to government means incorporating all of the social, mobile, and analytic capacities we now have but on a grander scale. It means asking for more citizen participation in communities while promising better response and outreach. Importantly people could vote with CRM raising participation rates. I know this would scare a lot of politicians who depend on low turnout and sometimes even suppression, but there it is.

    This political season is full of charlatans who are too in a hurry to knock things down and who haven’t a clue what to replace the old structures with. This is it: bring government into the 21st century using CRM technologies and ideas so that we never have a Brexit situation ever again.

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    • The Four Basic Assumptions of Accounting
    • Economic or Separate Entity: The company is treated as a separate economic entity for accounting purposes, even if it isn’t a separate legal entity.
    • Monetary Unit: The only business transactions recorded are those in financial terms (dollars and cents in the U.S.).
    • Time Period: Financial reports cover a specific period of time.
    • Going concern: Financial reporting assumes, unless otherwise known, that the business will continue operating indefinitely.

    Thanks to Carol Wiley, Accountingedu contributing writer http://www.accountingedu.org/gaap.html

     

    Published: 1 year ago