Questions for Drew Bartkiewicz, Broadvision, Inc.

atnewyork Staff

Updated · Apr 27, 2001

As global vice president of customer relationship software company BroadVision, Bartkiewicz has helped some major names in business capitalize on that often murky world of customer relationship management, or CRM.

His clients include GE Capital, CitiGroup, Circuit City, the State of California, Bear Stearns, Fleet Bank Boston, and E*Trade. He also is a participating author of the Brookings Institute’s book, "Intangible Assets in a Connected Economy".

Some of his research for clients and with students (he teaches business school students at Yale University) includes how to go about building a personalized self-service experience for online customers, which he recently discussed in a white paper. AtNewYork asked him to explain.

Q: Personalized self-service? Sounds like an oxymoron. What do you mean?

It’s something of a growing term. If you look at the focus of internet investments up until about 1997 to 1999, it was all about e-commerce, whether it was a brick-and-mortar or a dot-com — put a transaction engine online, add a shopping cart…put in business-to-business ordering and procurement systems.

It was all about the transaction. And everyone thought Web adoption would be very quick for transactions online. But what we found in our research (into business customers attitudes about e-commerce), looking at B2B specifically, was only 29 percent of the perceived value of B2B commerce is associated with the ability to conduct a transaction.

The other 71 percent is in the pre-and post sale, with content and services that can be made available online and I think that is where (online) business is going. It is going beyond e-commerce and moving into personalized self-service.

Therefore, there are three elements of a relationship online that we feel will be the priority of companies in next two to three years.

*Interacting with the customer (one to one marketing)

*Transactions to convert money or credit into goods and services

*The ability to provide customer care online such that the customers want to be serviced by you online and prefer that over the call center

Q: Why is the third item such a missing link?

Some companies that haven’t realized (#3) were those that created a lot of Web sites within their company and ended up offering pretty mediocre customer experiences.

You had disparate customers across different databases, with no centralized view of an individual customer. So if companies don’t address those disconnects, it will be hard to do those three things we talked about earlier.

Another way to decide how good your e-commerce Web site is if the number of profile elements of your customers is increasing over time. If you’re not learning anything more about me (as a customer), then you really don’t have a site that’s able to sustain a relationship. You have a one-trick pony.

Look at email campaigns. The trouble is often the broken promise of having to deal with an unintelligent Web site. It has to remember me, know me and make recommendations. It’s something that any good customer service representatives do in person. But a lot of good companies have not been able to execute that online yet. When you do improve in that area, in the category of interaction, we’ve seen usage rates improved by 33 to 50 percent.

But unless you provide logical transactions, and personalized care of customers online, you will never the repeat the purchase rate in a relationship online.

If had to sum it up, that would be it from the start. It’s not just the transaction. It’s the whole relationship.

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