Getting over it: the economy is no longer an excuse

So, based on the 2009 IBM Institute for Business Value CRM Research, 80% of us are thinking we will survive and nearly that amount expect recovery by mid 2010.

What that means is that you cannot go into your 2010 plan still saying the market will be bad.  For one, it will mean you won’t get your fair share of the money to engage and manage customer relationships.  For another, you’ll still be accountable for results, so there’s not a win strategy in continuing to blame the bad market.  In the US, 93% of us said we could survive – so guess what?  Senior management is not going to let you off the hook, whether you are in sales, service or marketing.  And those who a CxO title were more bullish than everyone else.  No getting around it.

who isn't as important as where

Next year, as well as for the next three years, you told us you are likely to still view the economy as a concern (57%), and that capital pressures (27%) will continue.   I don’t disagree in theory.  However, where I think that leads us is fundamentally different.   Three areas take the stage for me:

1.  There are a lot of business models pushed to the breaking point.  Newspapers specifically, but media overall, travel, financial services, healthcare.

2.  Consumers have fundamentally moved on – and are now way out ahead of most of the companies they do business with in terms of sophistication and smartness

3.  Digital channels have changed the game and will continue to change the game even more, and some companies are still stuck on the “go” square of the monopoly board.

So, as you’re planning, here are some facts and thoughts for you to turn over.

No part of the organization has undergone greater change in how they work or what they do than those in charge of managing customers.  From interactions, to experiences and even products used, the rise of smarter customers has changed the work of CRM.  Smarter customers are using a myriad of technologies, almost none of which existed 10 years ago.  More than 50% didn’t even exist just five years ago.

The social universe - big bang...
The social universe - big bang...

Yet adoption of these types of technologies is accelerating faster than at any point in history.  While it took almost 10 years for the internet to cross the 100 million users threshold, Facebook crossed the 200 million users in less than 3 yearsApple reports in its first year of operating the App Store, users have downloaded one of its 65,000 offerings over 1.5 billion times.  While it takes a company 3 years  to deploy SAP, whole new business models and engaged customers can change the world in less time and with greater impact.  (Okay, so I might get in trouble for saying that, but it’s true! Remember folks, I work for IBM but this is my opinion)

Business Models in Crisis

So let’s look at those business models for a second…in the actual whitepaper we spell out 9 at risk, but for space reasons, I’ll only go for 3 here.

Airlines are grounded: Business travel declines, the rise of even greater deal hunting and the awful “stay-cation” place incredible burdens on a capital intensive industry.  Even profitable airlines like United are experiencing declines, and others have it even worse.  My employer claims to have saved $320,000 on one meeting hosted in Secondlife.

Financial Services, the New Cable Companies? Sentiment for banks continues to erode.  Only 35% of bank customers remain highly committed to their bank this year, down from37% in 2008 and 41% in 2007 according to J.D. Powers.  Given the private/public partnership that banks are operating under, and the growing dissatisfaction, banks face extreme challenges.  However, this NYT quote just seems to say it all for me: 

“…banks never seem to tire of dipping a little deeper into your wallet…they are keeping most fees at record highs, and eking out slight increases on others like overdraft charges”
Can making money by penalizing your customers really be a viable model?

Newspapers:  The Fourth Estate Sale, With nearly a 30% drop in 2008 on top of 16.5% drop in 2007, newspapers aren’t just at risk, they are asking for government bailouts.  At the end of January, French President Nicolas Sarkozy approved a 600mm Euro package of measures to save the beleaguered French press

But the best case for Business Model Innovation I saw came courtesy of with this on Nichepapers, describing potential new models.

So, my friends, it’s everywhere.  And while it was exacerbated by the crisis, some of this was prevalent before.

The Smarter Consumer

Aside from my colleague Susan Duncan’s simply fabulous work as to what is going on in the mind of financial services consumers, my favorite sources over at Pew Research gave us some interesting datapoints as well.  Making the case that the Luxury Goods market is way off (which you could do just as well by checking out,,, etc) or the fabulous  We actually created a study graphic to support this:

And then there is the Economist offering this:   there are good reasons to think that what promises to be the worst downturn since the Depression will spark a profound shift in shoppers’ psychology.

Digital Channels:  The New Game

So, you’ve gotten this far, and I know you believe in Digital Channels, I will keep this part of the program brief.

A few things that I have seen that change the game:  Best Buy offering Twelpforce – this is Amazing. I know some people are concerned, but the model is a perfect response.

The Royal Opera House in London tries to create an opera through Twitter I sent in my thoughts…wonder if they made the final version.

Kia brings us Go Hamster Go on Facebook.  New tech, engaging approach and the customer doesn’t even see herself gaining brand affinity

Evian rewrites the rulebooks – and their website with Skating Babies

Air New Zealand creates a campaign so different they decide to redo their safety video to echo it – and 4mm people drop into watch it.

Reviews, and comedic talent make an item the number one seller in its category on Amazon.

Progressive does what seems near impossible, makes Auto Insurance somewhat less painful to purchase.  They also include what was out of range.

Cadbury designs an advert so weird, Brit TV host Lily Allen pokes fun at it.

So, it’s time to move on – and get ourselves on the path forward.  Don’t be afraid to check the review mirror, it’s okay.  But, as one of my favorite videos puts it, the only way is up

Let me know what you think.   -c-

Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz



2 thoughts on “Getting over it: the economy is no longer an excuse

  1. More from the New York Times on banks: “This year alone, banks are expected to bring in $27 billion by covering overdrafts on checking accounts, typically on debit card purchases or checks that exceed a customer’s balance.”

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