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Avanade’s values customer relationship management

“Don’t be afraid to be yourself and treat everyone the way you want to be treated,” reveals Avanade UK’s Senior Director of CRM Annette Giardina in her advice to women starting a career in customer relations.

With 25 years experience in customer management solutions across a range of industry, Annette’s passionate about customer experience.

A focus on customer experience was a niche area when she entered the consultancy industry, but it’s now a fundamental part of everyday business.

“CRM is more relevant in today’s business world than ever before. The way customers are interacting is changing, as are their expectations. People expect a customer experience which is personalised and relevant to their needs. For companies to hold on to their customers, a connected experience is more important than ever. CRM provides that glue,” says Annette.

Annette’s responsibilities include leading Avanade’s CRM strategy and service offering for Europe as well as delivering CRM solutions as part of Avanade’s digital unit. The CRM business at Avanade works across multiple sectors including financial services, utilities, petro chemicals, retail and the public sector.

“CRM is interesting because every project is different. Sometimes you are implementing a small point solution and at other times you’re transforming the entire business end-to-end - but the key focus is always helping businesses maximise their potential. For every business, building a positive customer experience is vital whether the end users are citizens, patients, volunteers or consumers. This can lead to some highly rewarding projects, for instance when you can help a charity connect better with its volunteers, increase donations and thus help more people.”

To pursue a career in CRM, employers look for excellent presentation skills, problem solving abilities, listening skills and strong business acumen. “It helps to have a technical background, but good CRM experts have IT skills which are tempered by a solid understanding of business,” advises Annette.

 “Avanade is a leading provider of Dynamics CRM services worldwide. The approach here is highly innovative, and we’re constantly taking on new challenges and inventing new and better ways to do things,” explains Annette.  A key focus area is the Digital Business – “we are working on exciting new programmes which enable new, more effective ways of managing customers whilst also promoting flexibility and a better work/life balance – the digital workplace. This is great for everyone, but especially working women.  Annette explains “Our culture embraces a diverse range of skills and perspectives and that culture acts as a catalyst for delivering innovative solutions. Today, we’re a global technology company with over 27,000 digitally connected people across 23 countries. Diversity is important to Avanade and the CRM team is a good example. Within the CRM practice we’ve a strong and dynamic team made up of people with multiple skills from diverse backgrounds –a blend of people from 12 different cultures, religions and ethnicities – plus a great gender balance. Not only is diversity the right thing to do, there’s also a strong business benefit because diverse teams tend to tackle projects with fresh and innovative thinking.”

Annette moved to London from New Jersey in 1996, when she was offered a role by a UK CRM provider. “I took a giant leap as I didn’t know anyone in London but I understood the solutions and the industry – pharmaceuticals – and I thought it was a great challenge both personally and professionally.”

Annette worked with a number of companies and a range of software solutions for customer management.   She has worked with Dynamics CRM since 2004 and has successfully set-up several CRM divisions within organisations.   After many years in the CRM space, Annette was promoted to Chief Operating Officer and then MD of NTT Data UK. In 2012, she made the move to Avanade to focus on her passion for delivering customer management solutions.

Annette’s colleagues tend to describe her as being ambitious and driven with unwavering levels of energy. Annette believes it’s important to be passionate about what she does - and she also believes in giving back. “We’ve a social responsibility to support one another and so I mentor two female students at the University of East London to ensure they get appropriate advice and support preparing for their careers.” One of these mentees is on the Aspire programme that aims to improve the lives of one billion women by 2020 and is actively supported by Avanade.

If you’re an experienced CRM professional or keen to start a career in this area with a progressive and innovative company, perhaps Avanade is for you. Learn more about them and explore their range of exciting CRM careers.

 

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