Continue in 2 seconds

Substance, Not Sizzle, Earns Customer Loyalty

Published
  • April 01 2005, 1:00am EST
More in

Teradata Best Practices

With this series, my objective is to showcase best practices IT leaders have built to earn customer loyalty so that you may integrate these practices into your own IT environments.

Because each leader uses a unique system to match dynamic markets, I will highlight their strategies, tools and resources that attack customer issues to deliver business results. Over the next few months, examine these tools. Learn, extract and adapt to bolster your own competitive advantage.

This column showcases Teradata best practices. Bob Fair, chief marketing officer, and Randy Lea, vice president Teradata Marketing, describe how they are building legendary loyalty by delivering value, without expending monumental marketing budgets. Proof, they say, is solid profit growth even in 2004 when IT revenues were under pressure.

The six customer requirements for vendor success - requirements that earn loyalty - are described in my March column (p. 54 or www.dmreview.com/article_sub.cfm?articleId=1021515). This month's column describes how Teradata addresses each of the six customer requirements.

Teradata's multifaceted strategy is founded on a strategic shared vision: the customer's business results road map. Technology rollout syncs with business priorities. Execution priorities constitute phased projects; completion of one triggers the start of the next. Sales and technical infrastructure streamlines communications to optimize performance.

Evaluate whether these best practices can sharpen your IT results.

1. Minimize Turnover to Preserve Communications and Improve Accountability

"Working with the same team preserves communications and holds them accountable for business results. Better decisions are made in less time." - Director of Business Intelligence

Teradata management believes that customer-facing teams remain stable because successful implementation of enterprise data warehouse (EDW) technology fosters strong customer relationships. Success with customer installation also leads to professional development opportunities.

The focus is on delivering results. Success of the EDW virtually always leads to new needs, advanced analytics, new partners, monitoring success and starting another project - the next priority on the strategic road map. Collaborating on growth builds strong positive relationships, a powerful factor that minimizes turnover. Teradata, therefore, focuses intensely on innovation and methodology to deliver results.

Teradata professional development plans also promote stability of account relationships. As the scope of new functionality grows, so does the list of new skills for each team member. These new criteria are factored into career development programs.

Teradata administers a special Moving Business Ahead (MBA) program, delivered in three modes: self-paced Web-based, synchronized expert interactions by Web or teleconference and face-to-face classroom instruction. Training, skill and promotion are built in to promote stability of teams.

Questions

  • Is your strategic road map at the core of your IT partners' execution?
  • Are vendor teams learning new technologies to serve your strategic needs?
  • Are IT vendors rewarding your account representatives for contributions to your goals?

2. Share IT's Intense Focus on Solving Customer Problems

"Every instance where IT provides input to business teams is an opportunity to either build trust or to lose credibility." - Senior IT Project Manager

Customers give Teradata high marks for consistently delivering high quality solutions. Bob Fair credits their industry-focused go-to-market strategy for this success. Depth of knowledge is the success linchpin for sales and technical resources. A triad of technical test centers is the confidence-building factor for both customers and Teradata teams.

Teams are built around industry pillars. At the top level, your account reps are deeply familiar with key performance indices and can expertly diagnose business issues. They are supported by experts who have deeper insights into strategic industry-level issues. Yet another set of experts represent technical advances in specific functional deliverables, such as customer relationship management (CRM), financial management, intelligent supply chain and demand chain, all of which are also industry-centric. These teams can be your scouts and predictors of success.

Indeed, separate from industry expertise, the customer teams are required to excel in communications and project management processes. Their competencies shine as the team, on your behalf, engages the technical-excellence test pillars at Teradata: Global Technical Sales Support Center, Proof of Concept Benchmarking Center and a Center of Excellence.

These centers serve client needs in a variety of ways. They can be investigative to test feasibility or compatibility with new functionality. Tests may be a competitive benchmarking scenario or predictive. Fees vary - some are free and others are a paid service.

Questions

  • Are you seeking strategic perspectives about the industry from your vendor teams?
  • Are you engaging vendor-supported investigative, predictive and benchmarking services?

3. Collaborate Across Multivendor Teams

"We expect vendors to work across the 11 other IT partners we have in our environment." - Senior MIS Manager

Realizing the value of working efficiently with multivendor teams, Teradata executives have set an attitude from the top.

They then augmented the team's capabilities with rigorous training and certification. Project managers are skilled in the life cycle management process across the board. Whether Teradata is the prime contractor or a co-supplier along with another integrator, tools are in place to manage varying levels of accountability, scope and deliverables.

Teradata has achieved level 5, the highest level of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM-5), where teams integrate continuous improvement in their processes. CMM details are available from the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (www.sei.cmu.edu/).

"Make no mistake, we will succeed." - Bob Fair, Chief Marketing Manager, Teradata

Question

  • Are your IT partners truly collaborating to deliver value to your strategic road map?

4. Employ R&D to Build Strategic Advantage

"We need our technology partners to have skin in the game. They can show value by investing in R&D and developing features we need." - IT Director

Teradata teams employ a variety of mechanisms to map customer needs and develop solutions. These include user groups, voice of the customer councils and industry focused cross-functional councils. These help prioritize development investments, which clearly have delivered high customer acclaim.

However, Teradata teams also routinely investigate new functions in one-on-one collaborations. One example of a spectacular success by such partnering is the Teradata CRM solution, which provides extensive campaign management and analysis functions. The system is particularly strong at complex outbound campaigns, coordination of channel usage across campaigns and touchpoint integration.

"Such collaborative efforts are expensive, but they always produce value for the customer." - Randy Lea, Vice President Marketing, Teradata

Question

  • Are you exploring unique IT needs to earn an enterprise competitive advantage?

5. Optimize Multitrack Communication Channels

"Today, we employ a variety of strategies to work with our IT partners." - IT Manager

The Teradata team matches customer needs to manage communications and business performance. At the operational level, teams meticulously manage day-to-day priorities. Visits to the competency center, or benchmark center, or meetings for detailed architectural review are standard operating procedure. A face-to-face Teradata and client team meeting typically executes at the briefing center at least once a year with every customer. The agenda is customer driven.

Questions

  • Do your teams meet face-to-face with your primary IT vendors at least once a year?
  • Do technical and business personnel and executives interface with vendor counterparts?
  • Does the agenda reflect business issues along with IT issues?

6. Leverage Executive Communications, a Powerful Tool

"What we need from IT executives is continuity of project sponsorship." - IT Director

At Teradata, the Capability Maturity Model and similar processes ensure that continuity is maintained by documenting commitments. Even during executive transition, priorities remain unchanged. The turnover at executive levels is also very low.

Question

  • How often are IT vendor executives updated on changes in your business priorities?

Critical Thought

Across all levels, (strategic, operational, tactical) your IT vendors can deliver competitive advantage or become the Achilles' heel. What can earn you their loyal collaboration? 

Note: To maintain objectivity and credibility, independent interviews with IT director level customer contacts validated best practices. I did not request nor receive a fee from companies profiled in this series.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Information Management content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access