CRM – It’s not just a tracking program

When I first entered the job market as a twenty-something year old, I was fortunate to be hired to work for one of the Fortune 500 companies. As a fresh, college educated employee, I was selected to participate in the company’s management program – a program designed to train potential candidates to advance within the organization to upward levels of management. It was called the Leadership Development Program (LDP). As an LDP, a formal training track was integrated into the program and customer satisfaction was a component of the plan.

During that time, the powers that be understood the direct correlation between customer satisfaction and sales. They also understood that customer relationships needed to be managed and nurtured.

That was almost 30 years ago. Today, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the latest buzz. CRM has resulted in sophisticated tracking programs that provide all kinds of data – everything, from what a person eats for breakfast to what kind of car he drives. With all of this data and information available, why is customer satisfaction at an all-time low?

I believe that the art of creating customer loyalty has been lost.  We live in an era of the quick sale, the immediate gratification. Quotas for sales takes precedent to building a customer base.  When was the last time that you received a phone call after a sale to gauge your experience? If you are like most, this happens far less often than it should.

How do we fix it? The front line employee must be empowered. Tomorrow, I will give you strategies and tools to transform your sales team into brand ambassadors.

Until then, imagine the Infinite Possibilities.

Why Separate But Equal is Still Needed

I have often been asked by my friends of Anglo descent why there is still a need for fraternal groups of color in this day and time.  In the past, it has taken a long explanation beginning with the history of such organizations, the traditions, blah blah blah and on and on.  For some, the explanation has sufficed, and yet for others, they just didn’t still see the need.  I wonder after this week’s SAE/OU disgrace if they still feel the same.

I wonder if they see the eerie correlation between a group of African American men on the campus of Cornel University in Ithica, New York in 1906; having a need to create a safe place, a bond, a fellowship, a camaraderie to help them face the evils of prejudice and racism that confronted them on a daily basis.

I wonder if they understand the feelings of exclusion or the insults in the casual dismissals of references to lynching sung cheerfully and celebratory in song.

I wonder if they have heard the responses in the midst of those who have the audacity to say, “Their only kids.  Who didn’t do something stupid when they were in college.”

As a member of a Black Greek Letter Organization (BGLO), I take pride in the history and the legacy of my black greekdom – yes I made up a word.  It was my Sorors (that’s short for sorority sisters) who were there to support me as I faced the trials and tribulations of the predominately white institution of higher learning that I attended in the South.  It was as a member of a BGLO that I learned and exercised Robert’s Rules of Order, how to preside over an organization, the true meaning of service to mankind and most of all how to navigate the waters in conflict.

As a member of a BGLO at a predominately white institution of higher learning, I had the opportunity to serve as an officer of the campus Panhellenic Society.  Our greek letters did not separate and detach governance along race like they do now.  We sat down at the table with our white sisters (same tree, different branches) and we stood in solitude to promote those issues that we had in common. We participated in a joint RUSH and we even extended invitations to pledge to people who did not look like us but shared our values.  No one took us up on the invitations, but that’s not because we did not invite them.  We co-existed peacefully and without conflict.  We were interdependent.

That was exactly 35 years ago this spring. In 35 years, we have not reached a level of intradependency.  This is very telling regarding the so-called “progress” that we have made in terms of racial relations.  I keep waiting for the tide to turn, for the next generation to “see color” and embrace the beauty and the wonderfulness of living in a world that contains all 64 colors.

Remember as a kid getting the largest box of Crayons – the one with 64 colors and a sharpener on the back?  I always wanted THAT box of crayons because you could do so many different things with that many colors.  Not a melting pot of colors, but a big ole bucket of colors, each having its own distinct beauty.

I long for the day that we all get excited about the big box of Crayons.

Angels In The Midst

There are angels in the midst. I learned that while I was in the struggle while attending SMU in the 80’s. I was a very naive, eager and talented theater major. I saw racism’s ugly face time and time again in the very place where diversity was supposed to be accepted and celebrated – the School of the Arts. I was told things like “You’re too pretty to play a character and no one ever casts a black Juliet.” (Uhm…guess they never heard of ‘colorblind casting’ huh DTC?) “We can’t fix the problem you have with your diction.” “Can you do something about your hair?”
I remember auditioning for the Crucible. Finally…a play that called for a clearly defined person of color from the Caribbean. I spent weeks with my friend from Trinidad learning the dialect so that I would have authenticity to my audition.

First cuts – I made it through.
Second cuts – I got this.
Final audition – An open reading with members from the Theatre Department present to witness. It was between me and a white girl who copied my every enunciation/movement/expression. I knew I had this!
Posting of the cast – Guess who was awarded the role?
They decided that year that they wanted to experiment and try something different that would be a stretch.

I remember the first class immediately after the posting of the cast list and my fellow classmates coming UNGLUED!! I remember J Barrett Cooperstating very loudly that what had happened to me was “bullsh*T”. He may not remember, but I do.
I remember my dear friend Tom De Nolf asking for an explanation and literally not allowing class to take place until someone answered some questions.
I remember these two angels who spoke the words that I was too afraid to say because I was just another black girl who was being overlooked in the theater department.

There was another angel: Gail Cronauer was one of my teachers. I loved Gail’s class because she truly saw the talent in me and encouraged me to truly express myself in class. I ran into Gail last year and I thanked her for being my saving grace. Gail did something that really shocked me. She apologized for all of the crap that we students of color had endured in the department. Her apology was very cathartic for me because it validated what I had been feeling.
What was the result of racism on me directly? It made me give up my dream to perform. When you are 21 and have been beaten down for 4 years and have no system of support, you have no place to turn. So I turned away.
Take this experience, the water gun experience and countless others that most of us encountered during our tenure while at SMU and you wonder why we are disengaged, disenfranchised, unattached as alumni?

We’re waiting for an apology. We’re waiting for the assurance that the injustices that we encountered have ended. We’re waiting for the University to take a stance like OU and say that there is ZERO TOLERANCE.

Tomorrow, I will talk about pledging a sorority and why separate but equal fraternal institutions were needed and still are.