Superstah! Process-Driven CRM: Sword Ciboodle - Customer Relationship Management

I have to admit, when I heard of Sword Ciboodle, I just thought, “Wow, is that a funny name.” While researching them (a friend of mine, Ted Hartley, was in the running for the U.S. COO at the time—he got the job), I saw they put themselves in a category of CRM that I had never heard of, process-driven CRM. It was a legitimate category. They had been named the leader by Forrester Group in that category in the Forrester Wave for the fourth quarter, with competition including Chordiant, Pegasystems, and Consona Software, formerly Onyx. So clearly this was a category, and they were a significant CRM player.

But why hadn’t I heard of them? I found the answer when I went to Chicago to do a webinar and meet with them. Yeah, you read right. I flew to Chicago to do a webinar. But obviously the meetings with COO Ted Hartley, CEO(for the U.S.) Paul White, and CTO Steven Thurlow and the U.S. staff were the reason I went to Chicago. Webinars are easy from anywhere.

I found out they were a Scottish company formerly called Graham Technology who had been purchased by the Sword Group in 2008. Graham Technology came to the table with a product named Ciboodle, hence Sword Ciboodle. They had dozens of major clients in Europe and were(and are) doing a huge implementation of their solution at Sears in the U.S. The Sword Group was not that small either. They are more than a quarter billion dollar company.

I got a chance to review their solution and the thing rocks. It does something that I think process-driven CRM is built for—if you remember what I called in the customer service chapter keeping the ordinary, ordinary. Process-driven CRM sees to it that nothing goes wrong when you make a query or a phone call, which is invaluable. Sword Ciboodle does it well enough to be the Superstah! for this chapter.

The Solution
The centerpiece of the Sword Ciboodle solution is their process-driven platform, which is organized around their J2EE architecture and runtime engine. The engine, built with common standards, is responsible for running customer configured processes and it handles all integrations, including external services, so that the customer experience can be seamless regardless of the channel that the customer interacts with the system from.

But it’s in the modules that Sword Ciboodle begins to shine.
First, they are all built within what Sword calls the Business Process Management Suite. That suite gives you a plain vanilla out of the box set of agent- and customer-facing processes so immediately rich that French vanilla comes to mind. These processes are flexible enough to be entirely configurable-modified, replace- able, or used as-is.

Probably the most interesting and valuable for the user is the Intelligent Desktop module, which organizes an entire agent work environment around a single point of access to all applications, native or integrated. This is coupled with a single view of customers, processes, and their interactions so that any employees who need to can see everything the customer did or is doing, and the possible answers to their problem, ticket, or inquiry. This is an “intelligent” desktop because of the embedded contextdriven workflow.

There are dozens of modules that could arguably in combination provide one of the most powerful contact center solutions in the world. I wouldn’t make the same case for their sales or self-described campaign management functionality, which, for the most part, just gives those other traditional CRM modules a passing wave. But the power of the solution is undeniable to provide agents with a true customer interaction so that when there is a problem, it gets resolved, and when there isn’t a problem, it stays that way.
Sword Ciboodle agent desktop shows everything
Figure: The Sword Ciboodle agent desktop shows everything

Another reason for that power is their customer management module, which does considerably more than similar systems. It’s focused around real-time access to multiple systems so it can take fragmented data, whether it’s personal information, relationship data, account data, or preferences, and provide an agent with structured data in a useful context. For example, if a customer has a serious complaint that is heading toward escalation, it can be flagged, so that if they call in again the flag will put the case history up front. But along with that, the service level agreement, the recent contact that the customer had with the company aside from the open complaint, and the purchase history (if it makes sense) will show up too.

Through out-of-the-box adaptors, Sword Ciboodle integrates with all the common telephony platforms—Cisco, Avaya, Genesys, and Nortel. The Sword Ciboodle
eService component allows real-time agent/customer interaction.

Clearly this is an application that can handle highly complex processes at large customer service centers. But what truly distinguishes these guys is that they never forget that the customer is at the center of the experience—and all those processes.

Mission 21st Century
Paul White is the newly minted CEO for Sword Ciboodle Americas. He is a chipper, smart, and experienced CRM practitioner and has a solid vision of what a senior Ciboodler (their word) needs to see. Here’s his view on what Sword Ciboodle is planning going forward.

We expect to see a substantial increase in “experience engineering” as a widely practiced discipline. The most customer-centric organizations are already designing the customer experience from the perspectives of consumers and partners as well as their own business operations and marketing goals.

This allows organizations to design the experience, rather than relying on mono-channel thinking and plain luck to govern if customers achieve their goals effectively.

His vision of experience engineering is a somewhat more technological version of the way that Pine and Gilmore, in their seminal work The Experience Economy, outlined the nature of experiences with a company. Pine and Gilmore saw commoditized experiences that would be created by the company. Paul White sees engineered experiences as a set of processes organized by a company that would be designed to enhance and contextualize the kinds of experiences that a company would provide to the customer in an multi-channel environment, though I noticed a strong emphasis on the agent when I reviewed the application.

White went on to outline what the going-forward strategy for Sword Ciboodle needs to be, given his vision of experience engineering. He sees their role as the ones who drive experience engineering. That means, in his view, they wouldn’t just implement a CRM package, they’d reinvent the customer-business interface.

Their partnership strategy is curious, though understandable:“We will select only a few, choice delivery partners who will be accredited to deliver advanced, process-driven CRM.”

This is a company that has it nailed when it comes to using process to enhance the customer experience. They are world class with a great leadership, a good outlook, and a deep solution that can handle the largest contact centers, which is their target market. Their name may be odd, but not their success.

I want to finish with Dick Lee again. He and Jill Dyché are a powerful duo when it comes to seeing how to use data and integrate processes into your customer engagement system. No reintroduction necessary.

Mini-Conversation with Dick Lee:Three Takeaways on Business Process
Many business-side people find office process design off-putting. They’re not trained in process design. They have a full plate of work already. And many believe process is “someone else’s job.”

However, two factors are thrusting office process responsibility onto marketing, sales, service, and other points of front office and back office management. First, the word “process” turns out to be the closest connection between office process and manufacturing process. Skills on one side don’t readily transfer to the other. And all the skills are currently on the manufacturing side. Second, senior managers are starting to sit up and take notice that the biggest process opportunities out there are right under their noses. Guess what’s coming?

Office managers need to tune in rather than tune out to process—the office type. Here are three tips that will help you stay on the beam.

  1. Don’t ever let technology lead process. Many companies approach office process by throwing technology at it, usually one function at a time. Reminds me of the “circular firing squad” image. No winners. Only dead bodies. Even the last guy standing shoots himself. You need to first redefine office process to add value to customers and streamline work—and then enable the new wok with technology. And don’t let any software salesperson or IT guy tell you otherwise.

  2. Redesigning process is a process enabled by automation. Forget about wrapping conference room walls with craft paper and writing indecipherable stuff all around. For workflow level mapping, use a charting tool. We like SmartDraw best because it has fewer idiosyncrasies than others. And Visio can’t even print to Word—essential for wrapping flow charts in a narrative. For mapping finer, individual work process, we use ProCarta, which can draw 100 map pages with the click of a mouse.

  3. Don’t redesign office process for cost-cutting purposes. All you’ll do is trim around the edges—whereas customer-centric design encourages structural changes that really help you accomplish more with fewer people. We usually see a 10 to 15 percent reduction in FTE requirements post–Visual Workflow—much more than you’d see taking the costcutting approach.

That’s it for this chapter. I combined process and data for the same reasons that I combined sales and marketing earlier. We’ve reached a nexus point. The best way for businesses in this part of the 21st century to operationalize how they are going to interact with customers is to not only have sufficient data, but business rules, workflow, and business processes in place that provide the means to make the data actionable and you much more intelligent about your customer. This demands a high degree of integration and interaction between those processes and the data. Hence, the two are as one.

There’s an electronic chapter you can go get now, if you don’t have it already, that provides a nice intermezzo to the next print chapter. The electronic chapter is on privacy and transparency—go to the site and find the one called, “I Want This Chapter to Be on Privacy, but If I Wrote It, I’d Have to Blog About You.” We now have all the pieces of Social CRM in place but two—what comprises customer value and how to develop metrics and use analytics to determine that.


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