Towards a unified view of the customer – Interview with James McGourlay of OpenText


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Today’s interview is with James McGourlay, who is the Senior Vice President of Global Technical Services at OpenText, a global leader in Enterprise Information Management (EIM) & Canada’s largest software company. James joins me today to talk about some of the big challenges that they are seeing and hearing about from their customers, how they are helping them and he also gives a view and update on the perennial challenge of creating a unified view of the customer.

This interview follows on from my recent interview –How Chief Customer Officers build their organisations customer growth engine – Interview with Jeanne Bliss of CustomerBliss – and is number 151 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.

Highlights of my interview with James:

  • James has just returned from Opentext’s global Innovation Tour, which took them to 16 cities around the world where they were sharing their experiences and hearing from their customers about new developments and challenges in customer experience management.
  • The themes that they are promoting right now are: Simplify, Transform and Accelerate.
  • One of the key challenges that they are seeing is that B2B firms are trying to emulate the B2C customer experience and take the effort out of their company’s customer experience by simplifying and taking the complexity out of how they deliver their experience to their customers.
  • James expects this simplification and transformation process to accelerate as we approach 2020.
  • One of things that underpins this simplification and transformation process is achieving a single and unified view of the customer.
  • However, this is still a big challenge for firms for a number of reasons, including the fact that many systems are still not connected. That means that many firms have a lot of insight in various places but not a lot of connectivity and integration of their various systems.
  • But, James is seeing progress from some firms that are starting to bring these systems together.
  • The real organisational challenges in bringing these disparate data sources together include:
    • The state of technology i.e. legacy system issues and compatibility;
    • Different departments not working together; and
    • That the work, in of itself, is such a large undertaking.
  • There is a danger that companies are looking at a unified view of the customer now from a big data and analytics perspective but that possibly ignores or underplays the fundamental benefits of having a unified view of the customer from a customer service perspective.
  • But, big data and analytical possibilities are not the end game…the end game is the unified view of the customer and delivering a simplified customer experience.
  • You can have all of the big data in the world that you want but if you don’t have the technology, the process and the business goals to pull it all together then you don’t have much other than the next big shiny thing.
  • However, the possibilities of big data are fantastic and James cites a great example of a public transportation client (a bus company) that is using data about customer movements to improve and optimise bus scheduling.
  • He goes on to cite another client example where a client’s marketing team are getting insights into what services their customers are signing up for, what they are not, what’s working and what may need adjusting on a daily basis and that is allowing them to manage their business in a better and more responsive way.
  • On the unified view of the customer, James cites the example of DNB Bank group in Norway and, in particular, their car financing arm who have 300,000 vehicles that they are financing on the road at any one time. They were interested in helping their customers manage their vehicle fleets and the associated costs so they developed a system with OpenText to do that. However, in doing so they ended up achieving their own unified view of the customer.
  • An internal unified view of the customer that comes about through the implementation of customer value initiative.
  • The unified view of the customer can become way more than a history of transactions and queries and can be, particularly in B2B, a record of performance data particularly when it comes to web-enabled (IoT) machinery/equipment.
  • This ongoing view of the customer is enabling firms to better serve their customers, drive retention and increase customer long term value.
  • To get started on your Simplify, Transform and Accelerate journey, James suggests that firms:
    • First, look at their existing processes and then compare that with a customer or outside-in view model of what an ideal and effortless customer experience would look like. The objective should be to invest in and create a customer experience that is simple, straightforward and effortless.
    • Once you have that front end you can then transform your organisation to support the delivery of that simplified customer experience.
  • It’s very important that the CEO is behind any transformation initiative but more importantly any transformation needs to be aligned with the organisations goals and culture.
  • The most important thing is that the organisation needs to want to be better and want to deliver a better customer experience.
  • James encourages everyone to check out OpenText’s analytics products and services.

About James (taken from his OpenText bio)

James McGourlayJames McGourlay is the Senior Vice President for Global Technical Services at OpenText. James joined OpenText in 1997 and has held many key positions in IT, technical support, product support and special projects. In May 2015, James was appointed as Senior Vice President of Global Technical Services at OpenText. He is responsible for leading OpenText’s Technical Support, Renewals, Customer Onboarding and Professional Services, managing all post sale services, customer life-time value, and accelerating customers’ time to value.

Throughout the last 18 years, James has been the catalyst for tremendous growth in the OpenText Customer Services team for the Americas. He has sponsored programs such as the Knowledge Center, Partner Support Program, quality audits and enhanced Customer Support programs. He and his team are also spearheading the movement towards integrations management, social engagement support for customers and continued improvements to the customer experience.

James was instrumental in the company’s early acquisitions and the OpenText Enterprise Deployment Board, which he chaired until 2010.

You can connect with James on LinkedIn here or you can say Hi on Twitter @mcgourlay. Go ahead and also say Hi to OpenText on Twitter @OpenText.

Image by Gergely Csatari [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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