As I discussed in last month’s Front Office column (“Innovate Your Way Out of a Recession,” July 2009), companies need innovative strategies to stay competitive, but those strategies must be blended with proven best practices.
In Assistant Editor Christopher Musico’s feature story (“Serving Up Service Strategies”), we lob a few of these proven strategies—10 to be exact—over to your side of the court. The story advises you to invest in proactive support that can spot and prevent potentially costly disasters; real-time analytics to help agents cross-sell and upsell; rich media applications to improve the self-service experience; multiple contact center deployments to keep agents comfortable; and low-cost social media strategies to connect with customers.
While current economic realities may make it difficult to allocate resources to new technologies and strategies, think about this: Many of these strategies have a direct impact on customer satisfaction, which heavily influences loyalty. One analyst in this story says, “If you’re not paying attention to the link between customer satisfaction and loyalty/repurchasing, you’re really missing the boat—especially in a down economy.”
Proven business strategies abound—even new ones. One emerging market is succeeding based on the merits of a relatively new, yet proven, strategy: business intelligence (BI) solutions delivered via the software-as-a-service (SaaS)—or cloud-computing—model. What makes SaaS BI so appealing is that, as with Salesforce.com and other SaaS CRM companies, the upfront costs are significantly lower than they are with traditional on-premises applications, and the offerings can be deployed much faster. So you can imagine our surprise when CRM magazine editors learned that one of the pioneer SaaS BI vendors, LucidEra, announced plans to shut its doors for good.
The news came at a critical moment for Associate Editor Jessica Tsai, who was just completing a feature story for this issue on SaaS BI. In her original draft, LucidEra was hailed as one of this growing market’s rising stars. So it was quite a shock to learn at the 11th hour that its star hadn’t just fallen, but fizzled out.
With very little time left before shipping this month’s issue to the printer, Jessica had to quickly retell the tale, interviewing various LucidEra customers and soon-to-be-former employees, including Ken Rudin, founder and chief marketing officer, and Darren Cunningham, vice president of marketing. You can find the results of these on-deadline efforts in one of this month's features, "Intelligence in the Cloud."
What’s particularly interesting about this story is that, despite LucidEra’s demise, its stranded customers haven’t soured at all on the SaaS BI model. In fact, this scenario proves one of the model’s benefits: Low upfront cost equals low upfront risk. With just a minimal upfront investment, a company can start using the solution quickly. The sooner the solution’s running, the sooner it can prove its worth.
According to the story’s sidebar, “LucidEra: The End of an Era?", that value was never much in doubt among LucidEra’s former customers, and many of them immediately began weighing replacement SaaS BI options. Despite the shuttering, one LucidEra ex-user says in the sidebar, “We’re way past the point of no return. We’re not going back. The [SaaS] model is too well-proven.”
For the rest of the August 2009 issue of CRM magazine, please click here.
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