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Featuring Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D.

focus: Communications

Keeping Pace with Customers’

Don Peppers
Consumers use multiple channels interchangeably; companies must create a
Recognized for over a decade as multithreaded dialog that maps to customers’ movement across channels.

one of the leading authorities on
customer- focused business strat-
any marketers don’t fully appreciate what “multichannel” means to customers.
egy, Don Peppers is an acclaimed
author and a founding partner Organizations may have multiple channels to serve their customers—and those
of Peppers & Rogers Group, the companies may send messages via direct mail, email, mobile, and social—but that
world’s premier customer-centric
management consulting firm that doesn’t make them multichannel. Interacting through multiple channels is not enough.
provides clients with world-class True multichannel means using all channels seamlessly in one platform to create a mul-
customer strategy, flawlessly ex-
tithreaded dialogue that matches customers’ behaviors across channels.
ecuted, for bottom-line impact.
In this 1to1 Executive Dialogue, industry thought leaders Don Peppers, Founding
Partner of Peppers & Rogers Group, and Richard Burdge, CMO of Thunderhead, will
define the optimal multichannel approach, discuss why it’s essential today, and explain
how to create a multithreaded dialogue.

Why is it so important to interact with customers seamlessly across multiple channels?

Richard Burdge: Businesses must embrace the fact that consumers are now empowered. In
the past, brands used to be able to control and manage the message. But now that consum-
ers are engaging with one another to give their opinions on brands, brands have really lost
that control. So companies have to deliver what the customer wants.
Richard Burdge It’s time to examine, build, and execute strategies that create a strong and customer-cen-
Richard Burdge is Chief Marketing tric presence in the marketplace. This might mean that brands need to look at their engage-
Officer. With 20+ years’ market- ment with customers and reprioritize.
ing strategy, communications and I’ll give you a good example. I have a son who’s 12 years old. When I come home from
CRM experience in B2B and B2C,
work he’s on the Web. But he’s not looking at websites. He’s engaged in social games across
Richard has a successful track
record of driving profitable market- the Web with his friends from school, or he’s discussing his math homework, for example.
ing programs that deliver growth He never picks up the phone and makes a paid call, and he rarely looks at websites.
and enhance shareholder value. I recently shared this with a group of insurance executives. Then I asked, “How are you
Before joining Thunderhead in
going to serve my son in 12 years time when he becomes an early-stage customer that you’ll
January 2010, Richard worked with
organizations including Sky, HP want to acquire?” He may be looking for auto insurance at that stage, and they may have
and Vodafone, on client and agency infrastructure that won’t serve him in the social environment.
sides of the fence. Richard’s spe- It doesn’t just apply to young people. One of Facebook’s fastest growing communities is
cialities include digital marketing,
women over 55. Brands are going to have to interact with them in those environments, as well.
e-commerce and social networking.
Lastly, when we examine emerging markets, we find that people are now using social
banking across mobile phones. Micro financing and commerce are taking place in an entirely
Featuring Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D.

focus: Communications

different manner where, in some countries, nicate in a multichannel way, then the cause whenever you put a function in place,
a text message becomes a contract. relationship breaks down. you have to put somebody in charge of that
Don Peppers: The interaction that consum- We’re seeing businesses look more and function, and that helps create a silo.
ers have with other consumers has led to more to acquire customers through recom- Once the systems can communicate with
rising customer expectations. People have a mendations or advocacy from their exist- each other, then you need people to commu-
richer and more efficient experience in their ing customers. An acquisition won’t work nicate with each other inside your company.
online dealings with other people, as well as unless the promise is fulfilled, and that is
with organizations and companies, and so reinforced by the advocacy that is coming
What are the key challenges that deci-
their expectations are that companies will from existing customers.
sion makers must overcome to achieve
be able to keep track of the conversation.
success in providing seamless multi-
Imagine being on Facebook and com-
“I don’t see myself as an email channel interactions with customers?
municating with someone, and then you call
them on the phone and they have no idea customer or as a Web customer Richard Burdge: As Don said, all businesses
what you said on Facebook. That would be a of a particular brand.” grow up with silos inside them, and those
totally nonsensical experience when you’re silos of information, people and data tend
­—Richard Burdge,
dealing with a human being. Increasingly, to Chief Marketing Officer, Thunderhead to serve consumers of one particular chan-
customers, it’s nonsensical if that’s the reac- nel. So you’ll get the email group, the Web
tion they get from companies they deal with. group and the mobile group.
You’ve got to look at your customers and But the trouble is, that’s not how con-
believe that you can make them advocates sumers and customers see themselves. I
What are the possible repercussions for
of your service through differentiation don’t see myself as an email customer or
businesses that are not agile enough
of the dialogue that you have with them, as a Web customer of a particular brand.
to have multithreaded discussions with
make it much more personal, and make I just see myself as a customer. As a
their customers?
it related to how they behave. If you can customer, I just want that experience and
Don Peppers: I think it goes to the question drive that advocacy in your customers, that dialogue to be continuous across all of
of whether the customer actually trusts the that’s going to fuel your acquisitions. those channels seamlessly because I’m the
company. customer and that’s how I behave.
Two requirements must be met before Given the range of devices out there,
What are the first steps companies need
I will be willing to trust someone. First, I this will make it difficult to track audiences.
to take to create multithreaded dialogues
have to trust their intent to act in my inter- Marketers need some kind of intelligence in
with customers?
est and not abuse me or abuse my privacy. a single platform that can understand where
But second, I have to be confident that Don Peppers: It really depends on what your their customers are, what their customers
they’re competent to carry out that intent. current situation is. For instance, if you want, and how they want to be served in
If they’re not competent, it doesn’t matter don’t have any level of integration among a multichannel way, all while maintaining
how good their intention is -- I still can’t your various communication channels, management of the brand and compliance
trust them. If a business is not competent then your first step has to be to design the of standards and quality in serving that
enough to recognize me when I’m online systems and processes that integrate your customer.
as the same person who’s ID number was actions so that the people at the contact Don Peppers: Another critical area is
in use at the call center the other day; or center actually have access to information the orientation of the business. Orienta-
if you can’t call up the receipt at the retail about what happened at the point of sale tion goes to the heart of the attitudes of
store for the products I bought online that or through another channel. the people are who are responsible for
I’m trying to exchange, that’s going to If you have at least some level of system carrying out the processes. Think about it:
destroy my confidence in you. integration and information integration, You can’t write a line of code or a business
Richard Burdge: Don’s right, there has to then the next step is probably going to be to rule that ensures employees always try to
be trust. If that trust breaks down simply break down organizational silos. These silos delight the customer; your employees have
because an organization can’t commu- grow up naturally in every organization be- to want to delight the customer.

© 2011 Peppers & Rogers Group. All rights reserved. 1to1 Media is a division of Peppers & Rogers Group. 2
Featuring Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D.

focus: Communications

How can companies leverage technolo- plus a slew of other regulations. This is a message, at the right time and in the right
gies to help close communication gaps major task, just being competent enough format-over the right channel.
across siloed functions and channels, to interact with your customers in a way I’ll give you a good example. I was talking
such as CRM and email systems? that doesn’t violate regulatory restrictions. to somebody the other day who’d purchased
some software on-line. They received a
Richard Burdge: The customer really doesn’t thank you note that read, “We’re really inter-
Is there a formula for achieving the right
care if their data or their information is ested to hear how you get on with it.”
balance in company customer communi-
held in a number of silos or different And they thought that the language and
cations between various channels?
systems. What they really care about is the tonality used to communicate back to the
how they’re communicated with. So even if Don Peppers: When a customer is par- buyer were interesting. Also, the message
companies have silos, and CRM is oper- ticipating in an integrated conversation, had actually come in a text format rather
ated separately from email, for example, what’s important to you is the customer’s than through email or direct mail. This
they can layer technology over the top to impression of the conversation. The con- provider had an understanding that the cus-
close that communication gap and give a versation is not integrated if the customer tomer used multiple channels and behaved
much richer experience to the customer. doesn’t think it’s integrated. It’s in the eyes in a multithreaded way. The company also
A combination of technology, behavioral, of the beholder, and the beholder in this wanted to ensure it conveyed that they wel-
and people change can achieve this, and case is your customer. comed feedback on the users’ experience.
this will move responsibility closer to the I think this demonstrates that companies
front line and empower customer-facing will have to become increasingly social and
“Customers create all the value
staff to become customer heroes. That’s connected with their customers instead of
what the customers want them to be, some- associated with a business.” pushing information towards them.
body who goes that extra mile to deliver ex- —Don Peppers, founding partner,
actly what they want—and that means being Peppers & Rogers Group
How can companies measure success?
supported by a single platform capability to
deliver that dialogue and service. The single most important issue is putting Don Peppers: Customers create all the value
yourself in the place of the customer, trying associated with a business. Fundamentally,
to see your business and all the interactions when you’re trying to measure your suc-
How do you manage the compliance
that a customer will have through the eyes cess, you’re trying to measure how much
and security aspects?
of the customers themselves. The more cus- value your customers are creating.
Richard Burdge: From compliance stand- tomer insight you have, the better prepared Customers create value in two different
point, having the ability to record pertinent you’ll be to adopt this customer-oriented ways. Customers, unlike products, have
information on what companies have perspective. There is no magic formula. memories. They remember you from event
communicated, right down to the para- to event. So how you treat a customer in
graph or sentence with their customers, is one interaction is going to have a direct
What are some recommended best prac-
a powerful tool. Having a single platform influence on the amount of value the
tices in multichannel communications
to handle all of these different communica- customer creates, not just in that interac-
with customers?
tion channels for compliance can save your tion, but in all future interactions. So when
organization dramatic amounts of time. Richard Burdge: The challenge for organiza- you go to measure success, you have to tie
Don Peppers: I saw a survey the other tions will be to integrate social media with your metrics into your analytics.
day from a research firm that looked at their existing traditional capabilities into And to the extent possible, you have to
call centers in the United States, and it all facets of their business. Businesses will try to measure how much their lifetime
compiled the national, state, industry, and need to harvest the knowledge gleaned values are going up or going down on the
union regulations that they needed to com- from customers through these networks basis of the day’s activities.
ply with. Over 50 percent had to comply to deliver customer-focused communica-
with the Do Not Call laws, 32 percent with tions, providing relevant information and Who is doing multichannel well?
Sarbanes-Oxley, 27 percent with HIPAA, support where customers want it; the right Richard Burdge: Best Buy has a really suc-

© 2011 Peppers & Rogers Group. All rights reserved. 1to1 Media is a division of Peppers & Rogers Group. 3
Featuring Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D.

focus: Communications

cessful social media listening program that that information and identifying unmet Carphone Warehouse Cares—basically, to
takes that critical next step and engages customer needs. This is feedback for the monitor the Twitter space.
with the customer. business. It generates innovation and ideas Let’s say a customer has a bad experi-
But it also provides options for custom- that Dell can respond to en masse, but it ence. She might blog about it, but then
ers to email or call to interact with the also makes the customers feel that they’re she’ll tweet out the blog, and it’s the tweet
company in whatever manner necessary really being responded to regarding their that gets picked up very quickly if you’re
to resolve a concern. It’s not enough just to individual issues. monitoring the space. And so CPW will
have the interaction. You then have to fol- Don Peppers: JetBlue has a fairly sub- reach out to them and try to solve the prob-
low through with the response. And that’s stantial Twitter following, and when there’s lem. The CPW Cares team has dramatically
the real fulfillment of genuine customer en- a weather problem or a flight delay, it’s not reversed what was a terrible reputation.
gagements in a multichannel best practice. just the deals and one-day fares that go on its It’s becoming much better, and CPW is
In Forrester’s 2010 Voice of the Customer Twitter announcements. The airline announc- becoming known as a social media–aware
Awards, American Express and Dell were es to the world its delays, and if you’re on a company, a cutting-edge type company
both cited for their active use of customer connection to Albuquerque or Long Beach or when it comes to customer feedback.
data they collect and act on to drive that wherever, you’re going to find out quickly. This is the new marketing, where you
real-time customer experience. That give and take with customers is take the perspective of the customer and
Amex increases customer loyalty and cus- particularly powerful for service companies, where the company is proactively trustwor-
tomer spend by highlighting valuable things and even more critical for companies that thy. It’s proactively protecting the customer
like unused card benefits rather than hiding may have problematic service reputations. from making mistakes, for example, and
them away. They’re not trying to sell custom- Carphone Warehouse is an independent that is going to be a central element of
ers up to the next card. phone dealer based in Europe that had a ter- customer service in the next decade­—
Dell uses its online community’s ratings. rible reputation for service. So the company proactive trustworthiness, or what Martha
They have an open policy of reviewing all launched a program called (CPW Cares), Rogers and I call trustability. n

Thunderhead changes the way companies engage with their customers, enabling mea-
surement and learning from every interaction to drive greater loyalty and profitability.
Our innovative business user-driven software, Thunderhead NOW, delivers new levels of
personalization, context and compliance with true multi-channel capability—the right information, to the right person, at the
right time, in the right format. Founded in 2001, Thunderhead now has insurance, retail banking, government and capital market
customers on three continents. They optimize their customer engagement—we help them make every communication count.

For more information, please contact:

Peppers & Rogers Group is dedicated to helping its clients improve busi-
ness performance by acquiring, retaining, and growing profitable custom-
ers. As products become commodities and globalization picks up speed, customers have become the scarcest resource in business.
They hold the keys to higher profit today and stronger enterprise value tomorrow. We help clients achieve these goals by building the
right relationships with the right customers over the right channels. We earn our keep by solving the business problems of our cli-
ents. By delivering a superior 1to1 Strategy, we remove the operational and organizational barriers that stand in the way of profitable
customer relationships. We show clients where to focus customer-facing resources to improve the performance of their marketing,
sales, and service initiatives.

For more information, please visit:

© 2011 Peppers & Rogers Group. All rights reserved. 1to1 Media is a division of Peppers & Rogers Group. 4