It's All in the Operations
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Paula Kruger, who had always worked on the operations side for customer service firms, now finds herself on the other side of the fence. For her, the "other side" is heading the CRM practice of solutions provider EDS Corp.
One might think that EDS would have hired an executive with consultant roots, but Kruger, who was just named general manager last December, says her credentials make her the right fit for the job. "I've been in operations throughout my entire career and across a variety of industries," Kruger says. "I speak the language of the customer."
It was working with John Reed, the former head of banking services firm CitiCorp, during a 14-year period that Kruger got hooked on operations. "He was the reason I got interested in operations. He believed in the importance of service excellence, as opposed to what we wanted to give [customers]," she says.
Kruger is proud of her accomplishments. Especially those that involved helping enterprises cut costs while keeping a level of high-touch customer service. She has put together call centers, compiled best practices, and championed customer satisfaction in her executive positions at Cablevision. As corporate vice president of customer service operations at American Express she managed an $8 billion portfolio and more than 21 million accounts. Most recently Kruger served as executive vice president of operations for Excel Communications, and under her watch the company achieved accolades from J.D. Power for the highest satisfaction rating among long distance telecommunications companies for first-call resolution and the second highest rating for overall satisfaction.
For Kruger, CRM is not about technology, but about common sense. "It's not rocket science. What the customer needs is the simplest way to satisfy its customer's need. It means staying focused on it and paying attention to customer feedback," she says.
Kruger doesn't pull any punches when it comes to talking about CRM and the problems of the lack of satisfaction with CRM implementations. "There is a huge confusion on what CRM is, even among CRM professionals. The reality is that CRM should be perceived as the information you have about your customer that allows you to surpass the level of service and give the customers what they need," Kruger says. "[CRM] is not a technology or software package."
Kruger's focus now is on a list of goals she wants to accomplish both at EDS and for its customers. "Over the next six months I want to put real focus on the key things that will help us to ultimately reduces costs for our customers and improve our service delivery and recruiting strategy," she says.
Overall, Kruger looks forward to the challenge of her new role. "CRM is in its early stages," she says. "There is so much left for us to do in this area."
NAME: Paula Kruger
TITLE: General Manager, CRM, EDS Corp.
AGE: "Baby Boomer"
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree and MBA, Long Island University
LAst book read: What the CEO Wants You to Know, by Ram Charan
FAVORITE SPORTS: Basketball, golf
WORst CAREER BLUNDER: Telling field service techs to make sure their pants don't sag below the waistline
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