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How do you go from sweeping floors in college to becoming the top CRM executive at PeopleSoft? According to Joe Davis, general manager of CRM at PeopleSoft, it is all about gaining the customer's perspective through good reporting tools and proper communication--two issues he learned at a time when "there was no such thing as CRM," he says.
Davis has held various CRM-related positions spanning his 20-year career, but it was his experience managing the service department at PC manufacturer Everex Systems that opened his eyes to what customers really experience. "Back then [1988--1989], there was no such thing as CRM. We had a paper-based system," he recalls.
So inefficient was the system that colleagues could not share information electronically. So Davis grabbed a few programmers to pioneer a database that would link customer service, technical support, and field support, and enable those employees to cross-reference their records. This early version of a homegrown CRM solution proved to be a breakthrough for the company. "It allowed us to do things we never would have thought of before," Davis says.
The majority of repairs were resolved within one week, but the homegrown CRM solution identified that complex repairs were ignored and sat idly for weeks at a time. The solution enabled Davis and his team to measure performance metrics that were once not previously measured. "You can't manage something you can't measure," he says.
One of his first acts at PeopleSoft was to once again size up various efforts in marketing and product management. "We needed to augment the team, so we hired people on the marketing and product management side," Davis says.
From a technology point of view, the company is now focusing on providing solutions, he says. "In the past PeopleSoft was very technology focused, as opposed to solution focused," Davis says. "This is a much more mature market than it was a few years ago. CRM vendors are all pretty close in features and functionality. So we needed to focus on solving customer problems."
Davis, a competitive swimmer, takes his competitive nature to the office. "If we can't win big in CRM with the PeopleSoft install-base, then we shouldn't be in CRM."
Although competitive, Davis maintains he is also approachable to his team of several hundred employees, comprising mostly development, quality, marketing, and customer service professionals. He prides himself on his openness and his ability to create a collaborative environment through team building. He recalls one example at a former job where he met with the technical support manager and customer service manager at a "greasy burger joint" weekly to improve communication among team members. "That was good team building and really effective. It taught me of the importance of reporting things like what you have accomplished and what you are going to accomplish," Davis says.
From mopping to managing, Davis has certainly cleaned up.
Name: Joe Davis
Title: General Manager of CRM, PeopleSoft
Education: Bachelors and masters degrees in applied mechanics, University of California in San Diego; MBA, Stamford University
Most bizarre job: Janitor in a community college
Latest book read: A Widow for One Year, by John Irving
Favorite sport: Surfing
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