Caring for real people behind SAP ecommerce
Nothing excites me more than meeting our clients, and their customers, while they’re using our Corevist SAP and Magento Integrated B2B eCommerce service. The Japanese call this Gemba, or going to “the real place”. The place where all the action takes place and where value is created. I first wrote about “Gemba in the Virtual World” back in June of 2009.
To be sure, watching our service in action always generates a boatload of great new ways to improve it. However, of greater personal value is the energy that I derive from reaffirming the social impact of our mission. Fundamentally, Corevist is here because we respect the lives of those in the B2B eCommerce community and if not actively bringing joy to their world, we nominally aspire to remove some pain from it.
For sure we should never allow ourselves to be accused of abusing them!
As an aside, for a few humorous looks at what abuse looks like in the eCommerce world, take a look at these brilliant YouTube videos in the “Google Analytics in Real Life” series; Online Checkout, Landing Page Optimization, and Site Search. But before going there, promise me that when you’re done wiping the laughter tears from your eyes, and sharing the links to all of your friends and colleagues, that you’ll come back here to finish reading this blog post.
Contrary to what the media would have you believe, B2B eCommerce isn’t just about the latest and greatest product features, nor is it solely about making and saving money for your company. B2B eCommerce is fundamentally about improving the working conditions of real human beings.
The three concepts…technology, people and business results…are inextricably linked though.
Our belief is that if you make yourself easier to do business with (ETDBW) for your customers…who are human beings…AND you make your employees…who are also human beings….happier, all other things being equal, your business will prosper.
While we at Corevist are engrossed in the daily grind of producing, evolving, selling, implementing and supporting our software product, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we’re actually in the business of impacting people’s lives.
That’s why I love Gemba. It keeps it real for us.
Here is a recent Gemba encounter that I’d like to share with you.
LORD Customer Focus Group #3
A few weeks back, I was an observer in an online Customer Focus Group (CFG) capping off the last of the three iterative Milestones in LORD’s initial implementation project. We started the project on February 2 and we will GoLive on May 17th. The goal of the project is to retire an arthritic, non-mobile and no longer supported SAP Internet Sales application dubbed WOM (Web Order Management) by LORD. It has been in production for over 10 years and has probably exceeded it’s useful lifespan by about 4-5 years. (Props to the folks at the Gartner Group for referring LORD to us!)
Several of LORD’s best customers attended the CFG and they were all looking forward to life after WOM. Towards the end of the one and a half hour long CFG, when LORD was asking for final impressions of the Corevist service, one of the customers, let’s call her MaryK, provided an insight into her world that I have never heard in the almost 20 years that I’ve been deploying SAP Integrated B2B eCommerce websites. I’ll paraphrase MaryK’s comments here:
“I have to share with you that for the past 10 years I’ve been afraid to go on vacation. You see, I’m the only one here at my company that uses your WOM system. On a daily basis, I place all of our LORD orders and respond to all of my colleagues’ inquiries about the status of those orders. What that means in practice is, that when I go on vacation, no LORD business is transacted and I always come back to a huge stack of urgent work.
One time, in hopes of averting my vacation anxieties, I tried to train one of my colleagues to use WOM in my pending absence. While she was kind enough to offer to cover for me while I was out, she found WOM so hard to use that she refused to spend the time to learn it.
So my vacation plan B became to order excess LORD product to ensure that we didn’t run out of product while I was gone. But that was a double edged sword. While my first day back at work was tolerable, I now had to spend time figuring out which orders to cancel and then manage that process with you. That generated a lot of additional paperwork and frequently created reconciliation issues at the end of the month.
BUT NOW WITH THIS NEW SYSTEM I CAN GO ON VACATION IN PEACE!
This new system is so easy to use that my colleagues not only won’t mind using it, but I know they’re going to ask for their own login ids so they can look up the delivery status of their orders on their own!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
How soon can we get access to this new system?”
Listening to MaryK sent chills down my spine.
She reaffirmed for me that Corevist isn’t in the software business. I guess we’re in the business of curing vacation anxieties????? Which, by the way, afflicts 25% of American workers according to this Huffington Post survey.
The point is that MaryK’s life matters.
My job is to make sure that the spirit of MaryK’s humanity permeates everything that we do at Corevist.
Gemba is the tool that I use most.