The 2012 CRM Influential Leaders

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What is an influential person? Social media strategists will say influential people have a lot of followers and reposts. For the sake of publicity, though, we'll measure influence by one's ability to motivate others. And that's exactly what our Influential Leaders have done over the past 12 months.

Among this year's honorees is one who enlisted the help of other highly influential people to give much-deserved recognition to small and relatively unknown companies. Two encouraged thousands of business leaders and managers to adopt a new business metric. One motivated millions to share pictures over a social network. And, finally, we induct one visionary into our Hall of Fame for pushing tech innovation so far beyond what people think they want that he effectively created new consumer demands of all mobile device manufacturers.

Each in this impressive lineup of persuasive people is certainly deserving of this year's Influential Leader award.

Paul Greenberg,
President, The 56 Group

The Idol Maker

Paul Greenberg, a perennial fixture on CRM magazine's list of influential leaders and a Hall of Fame inductee in 2010, has not let up in his pursuit of industry advancement. As president of The 56 Group, an enterprise applications consulting services firm, and managing partner of CRM training firm BPT Partners, Greenberg continues to be one of the CRM industry's leading subject matter experts.

This year, we are honoring Greenberg as the founder and one of the primary judges of the CRM Idol competition, which he modeled after the popular reality TV program American Idol as a way to give exposure to the thousands of small CRM-related technology vendors that seldom get the chance to come before investors, media, analysts/consultants, and other influencers. Only companies with less than $10 million in annual revenue qualify.

Much like on the TV show, small companies that enter the competition get face time with the judges, who are some of the more influential people in the CRM industry. Judges spend 45 minutes with competitors discussing their software and then write a review of what they saw—and much like the American Idol judges, they don't hold back. Once the pool of entrants is whittled down to 10 finalists, their promotional videos are posted online and subjected to a popular vote and an extended judges panel.

In 2011, the first year of the competition, 60 firms—40 from North and South America and 20 from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa—took part. This year promises to be even bigger and better: Asia/Australia has been added as a third region to go with the Americas and EMEA. That means three emerging companies will be highlighted around the world this year.

Last year's winners were Get Satisfaction and BPM Online in the Americas and Europe regions, respectively.

"CRM Idol put a spotlight on companies that we otherwise would not read much about, not because they don't deserve ink but because they, like us, are small companies that have limited means to do the traditional activities that bring attention to products and solutions," wrote Jeff Nolan, vice president of product marketing at Get Satisfaction, shortly after the win. "Paul used his considerable influence in the market and a long list of relationships to bring together people who could evaluate these companies on their merits. The competitive process was rigorous, and we are better off for having gone through it."

Wendy Lea, CEO of Get Satisfaction, was equally proud, and grateful. "Winning is wonderful, and we are greatly honored, but at the end of the day, we all need to succeed," she says. "Paul Greenberg and his team did a very important thing for new companies by shining a light on the technology and systems that are available to companies. He and other folks know the CRM market is a real deal."

Fred Reichheld,
Fellow, Bain & Company

Richard Owen,
President and CEO, Satmetrix

The Loyalty Promoters

What do Apple, American Express, Intuit, General Electric, and JetBlue have in common? All are companies that rely on the Net Promoter Score, a customer loyalty metric developed by Fred Reichheld, management consultancy Bain & Company, and cloud customer experience software company Satmetrix, to determine how likely their customers are to recommend them.

This year, Reichheld, who is a fellow at Bain & Company as well as the founder of its loyalty practice, and Rob Markey, head of the company's global strategy and marketing practice, published The Ultimate Question 2.0: How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World, an updated and expanded version of The Ultimate Question. The original lit the spark for the Net Promoter fire in 2006.

There is no debating the fact that Net Promoter is a key influencer in the world of customer loyalty measurement. In Satmetrix's Customer Experience Industry Survey released this March, Net Promoter was confirmed as the customer experience and loyalty metric for 69 percent of the more than 1,000 companies surveyed.

Bill Lee, president of Lee Consulting Group, recently wrote in a Harvard Business Review blog post that "Net Promoter Score is perhaps the best-known customer loyalty tool around today, based on the entirely sound principle that the more customer promoters you have, the more likely you'll be to grow your business and outpace the competition."

However, Lee went on to say that there is a "hidden wealth" of customer loyalty intelligence beyond even NPS that lies in engaging customers and getting them to promote a company through referrals, references, blogging, or tweeting—independent from the original NPS question,"How likely are you to recommend?"

During an interview with CRM magazine this January, Satmetrix president and CEO Richard Owen explained that customers don't only give opinions through proprietary surveys. "Now, they are communicating through public communities—the Web and social media," he says.

Under Owen's watch, there has been a steady push to incorporate social sentiments in the Net Promoter Score. In June, the company launched a Net Promoter social media measurement solution, the Satmetrix SparkScore. Powered by development partner Metavana's sentiment engine, the solution combs social media platforms, discussions, and customer forums to analyze comments. Subsequently, brands are assigned a SparkScore, which enables them to see how they stack up against industry benchmarks in social settings. SparkScore began with three industry domains: airlines, computers and laptops, and hotels. In the coming months, more industries will be added to the social benchmark.

The Net Promoter Industry Benchmarks survey also got a facelift this year when the company introduced a reporting Web site hosted on the Satmetrix Xperience application. Users are able to access NPS ratings, consumer comments, and data segmentation on more than 200 brands in 22 industry sectors directly from the portal.

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