Monday, March 31, 2014

People, Process, and Technology

"In order to successfully implement change, both line managers and IT specialists must give up their beliefs in the magical power of IT.  The hard reality of IT-enabled transformation is that change is everyone’s job."

Technological determinism has been defined as the idea that technological development determines social change. Within our organization, the same is true when we mistakenly believe that the introduction of a new technology will single-handedly enable process improvement and user adoption. Therefore, it is important that we not only focus on the new technology, but also the people and processes driving it.


The people component is the most challenging given the sensitivity of users to change. CRM systems, which support the automation and integration of customer processes, often imply changes in the way users do their day-to-day jobs. It then becomes imperative that users understand why change is happening, and how the change will influence their day-to-day responsibilities. Otherwise, the user will be adverse to those changes and less likely to adopt a new technology.


If employees don’t know the context in which they work, they will be prone to making decisions that aren't in the best interest of the entire process.  It's important that users understand the process from the inside out and the significance of their individual contributions. For instance, I recently had some back and forth support calls with Time Warner Cable regarding issues with my service. Each time I had a different customer service representative, and each time they knew the exact details of my previous conversation. If the employees (people) did not follow through with logging the details of each call, it would have created inefficiencies in the process, wherein I would have had to repeat all previously provided information.


Technology is the least complex of the three; any organization can implement a CRM solution. The competitive advantage is derived from the people and processes behind the technology. How we ultimately decide to leverage Salesforce to innovate our processes is what will differentiate us from our competitors.  As I mentioned previously, understanding the process from the inside out is important. Unless you have a clear understanding of your business process, it will remain unclear which specific tasks in the process can be improved through the use of technology.

I like the People, Process, and Technology perspective because it reminds us that technology alone is not the key to successful IT-enabled transformation. Rather, it is the people leveraging technology to innovate business processes. We must keep these three areas at the forefront of our minds anytime a new technology is adopted.  Most importantly, always remember, change is everyone's job.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Social Media. Is it the BEST idea?

Today I read an article in LinkedIn by NY Times best-selling author Joel Comm entitled "I AM LEAVING SOCIAL MEDIA".

This article is all about how Joel, an early advocate for the use of social media to promote business (even writing Twitter Power, the world's most popular book on the topic) decides to drop his use of social media entirely.

I found this attitude particularly interesting in light of our CRM implementation with a significant focus placed upon gleaning information from social media to improve and sharpen our communications with our various constituent groups.

His reasons are understandable; the social media space is owned by huge organizations that only exist to exploit their users' data, the signal to noise ratio is heavy on noise and is going the wrong direction, simple etiquette is now lost in these venues, information overshare is dangerous and too common, being a social media expert now means nothing, and finally, this entire market segment is now just a spam billboard.

He ends the article by saying, he's now changed his mind.  He can't quite.  He's addicted and it really isn't that bad anyway.

This makes me think that regardless of what people feel about social media, it will continue to be a force for some time for the same reason that Joel gives.  He just can't stop.  I am afraid that may not be the best reason but I think it's a real one.  I can personally go for months without logging into Facebook but I am still popping into LinkedIn several times a week.  I contribute to a departmental blog that we maintain for our user community here at SOL and I probably spend more time than I think on blog sites as well as Houzz and Pinterest looking for information on kitchen remodeling (the current topic of interest at the Bohl household).


All that said.  If we as an institution (or just as individuals) are going to play in this space (Social Media), we all need to make sure that we are not the spammers or any other less than excellent form of content.  On our departmental site, we endeavor to present helpful, relevant, and timely info to provide our user community with the best information we have available that will actually contribute value to their lives.

This isn't a new idea but I want to say that as consumers of data drawn from social media, let's make sure ... dang sure, that we're also responsible citizens in fostering the positive aspects of social media by using good manners and providing good content.


Monday, March 17, 2014

CRM Elevator Speech

How would you communicate the value and benefits of CRM at Pepperdine University, and how are you (and your colleagues) contributing to it? Oh, you have to do so in less than 30 seconds. This question makes you pause and think a bit, doesn't it?

Depending on your role at the University, our answers will likely differ. If you are a recruiter, your answer may include an emphasis on attracting excellent students and how you're using business process automation in CRM to quickly respond to and meet the prospect's needs.

If you are in student services, your answer may focus on using CRM case management and analytics to promptly address matters, enhance student experience, and increase student retention rates.

If you are an alumni affairs officer, your answer may be on increasing alumni engagement and how you're using social media to enhance the student/alumni networking opportunities.

There is no right or wrong answer because at Pepperdine, each faculty and staff has a direct or indirect touchpoint with the constituent. Each of us contributes something to the overall constituent experience.

The value and benefits of CRM at Pepperdine University are plentiful, some of which are listed in our Position Statement.

So ... My 30-second elevator speech will read something like this - "Whatever we do at Pepperdine, it's all for the end user experience. CRM enhances our ability to build relationships and loyalty with our constituents from beginning to forever. As a division, IT contributes to this effort by making sure our users can readily and safely access campus technologies and we use technologies to automate business processes so that other departments can focus less on manual tasks and more on better serving our constituents."

What's your version of an elevator speech? Give it a try. Use the Comment section below to share your version. Again, there's no right or wrong answer.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Understanding the true life-cycle of a customer

Pepperdine's CRM initiative is an important step toward improved customer experiences.

A contact in a database (and how they are managed across the enterprise) is something to be handled with care. This is both a challenge and a goal for Pepperdine's CRM initiative. Carefully managing the customer is more important than the tool utilized.

As we look to the remarkable use of technology and data collection capabilities, I had an observation on Pepperdine's evolution of our Constituent Relationship Management.

Consider for a moment our current status, call it CRM 1.0

The University has multiple tools already in place; such as Hobsons, Raiser's Edge, Cvent, Target X, Peoplesoft, among others; all systems of data collection and relationship management in some form. The University in some respects, is already conducting relationship management (CRM 1.0) for Pepperdine.

Pepperdine's CRM initiative is an important step that will move the University to a more unified model: CRM 2.0

Salesforce and associated tools in consideration; Radian 6, Chatter, Target X, Exact Target, Marketo or others will be CRM 2.0 for Pepperdine University. That is to say, this will be a fantastic move to unify the multiple lead capture systems across the enterprise into one master database with one sole unique identifier. The identifier will be critical in providing a full understanding of our brand aware audiences and how we can best communicate with them. What this phase will not do, is deliver a seamless customer experience from the information of that master database alone. In fact, the true seamless customer experience has touch points often outside of a CRM database. Therefore to assure a pleasing experience throughout the user journey is on us, the brand advocates.

When fully realized, CRM 2.0 will lay the foundation for our next step; CRM 3.0

For Pepperdine to move toward that seamless process, there will need to be data democracy, whereas key administrators of a true CRM system are utilizing the data as evangelists for the user experience. This end-to-end communication over the life-cycle of the entire relationship Pepeprdine has with a constituent will be the ultimate goal and produce the greatest long-term results. Not just for Pepperdine, but more importantly for the customer interested in engaging with the Pepperdine brand and what it stands for.

Roadmap Considerations: We can get there from here.

There are many tools and methodologies to achieve such results, one in particular I am a proponent of, is the creation of Service Blueprints for Pepperdine's primary User Personas. The Service Blueprint approach will lay the foundation for this end-to-end customer experience journey.

Finally, the success metrics which we look at must be clearly defined and may include; increased quality applicants, greater brand awareness and brand perception, improved end user experience, increased alumni relationship engagement, wider reach, higher valued donor relations, among others.

Pepperdine University is in a specific Higher Ed market niche with unique differentiators, and when communicated regularly and effectively to the constituents within the core target demographics, the University has the potential to fully extend the reach and depth of it's brand.

Delighting the constituent across all touch points will create the long-term positive relationship we seek.

John Ayers

Salesforce Foundation Higher Education Summit 2014 (Announcement)

On June 5 & 6, Salesforce Foundation and Arizona State University are co-hosting the 2nd annual Higher Education Summit in Tempe, AZ. Please click the link below for more information about the day and a half long event.

If you are interested in attending, Information Technology is pleased to cover each Pepperdine participant's registration fee ($55). This will be a great first opportunity and introduction to Salesforce CRM.

Questions? Contact Jonathan See at 310.506.6256 or via email at

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pepperdine's Salesforce CRM Architecture

This is a simplified illustration of the Salesforce CRM architecture for Pepperdine's Engaging Waves Initiative.

Take these three steps to download the PowerPoint slide show:
1. CLICK HERE and you will be redirected to Google Drive.
2. In Google Drive, click File | Download to "download" the PowerPoint slide show to your computer desktop.
3. From your computer desktop, double click the *.pps file to play the slide show.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ultimately, What Counts is the Customer's Perspective

Have you ever experienced a time when you placed an order with a company through the company's website and when you call the 1-800 customer support number to follow up on your order, you learn that they do not have any record of your order? The agent puts you on hold for a while to search for your order, reconnects with you only to apologize that he could not assist because another department is responsible. He then forwards your call to the other department. The second agent politely answers your call and greets you. She then ask you the very same seven or so questions as did the first agent. It turns out the second agent could not assist either and had to transfer your call yet to another department. The run-around seems to continue endlessly.

Frustrating, isn't it? This actually happened to me a few years ago and till today, I still remember the experience very clearly as if it happened just yesterday.

Your organization may be structured based on key departments but ultimately, what counts is the customer's perspective of your organization as a whole. To the customer, your organizational structure is less important than the specific outcomes they want to achieve.

Customers are unconcerned about how a service is delivered and instead are only interested in having their needs met (promptly I might add). Your organization may have multiple departments but the customer is only dealing with one organization. It is therefore critical that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing in order to deliver optimal customer experience.

At Pepperdine University as we implement Salesforce CRM, let's step outside and put ourselves in the constituent's shoes for a moment. Acting as the constituent, now turn around and look back into our institution. What do you see? Knowing how we do what we do today, do you see any gaps that may potentially lead to a poor experience? These gaps may exist within a school or it may exist across the institution. What would you do to close these gaps so that our constituents experience the Pepperdine Waves experience that they so deserve?

Let's identify and align key customer-facing processes and the roles needed to support them. As processes are redesigned to be more constituent-centric, let's also ensure that the necessary organizational collaboration is in place to support the cross-departmental processes.