Thursday, 27 March 2014 16:24

The key to customer retention is a pink bird


Tech start-up Flamingo - headed by Australian ‘Customer Experience Futurist” Dr Catriona Wallace - is about to give the phrase ‘the customer is king’ new meaning with the release of it new vendor relationship management (VRM) software.

Called Flamingo it is named after the pink wading bird genus Phoenicopterus because of the ‘peep’ sound it makes. It could well be dubbed “Flame and Go” as it specialises in helping organisations solve customer retention problems by letting them co-create the experience they want with the company – not what is generically offered by it.

Dr Wallace – “Catriona please” is an enthusiastic evangelist for, well, everything she does. As CEO of Fifth Quadrant, Catriona was awarded with both the 2013 NSW Medium-Sized Business of the Year award and the overall NSW Business of the Year in the Telstra Business Awards. She was also selected as one of Australia's top eight female entrepreneurs in 2014 by the US-based Springboard Program. Her impressive professional achievements are complemented by her many not-for-profit endeavours and a deep commitment to the betterment of women and girls in Australia.


The occasion was the media launch of Flamingo ahead of a busy roadshow program where this unique software will be presented to hundreds of small to medium (SME) and larger enterprises that sell something - products, bundles, services, or experiences.


Not to under-complicate the concept – it is to allow customers to ‘co-create’ how best they would like to interact with a company based on six key simultaneous interaction criteria including:

1 – Communication – how does the organisation communicate with the customer?

2 – Product – is it exactly right or did the customer accept a compromise?

3 – Channels – how does the customer prefer to communicate with the organisation?

4 - Processes - how easy it is to interact?

5 – People - how trained and skilled they are and how did they make you feel?

6 – Price – your perception

Catriona says 60% of how we feel about continuing to do business with a company is based on emotion and only 25% is based on fact – it is not just product and price but the value customers place on the experience that determines engagement that in turn determines the nirvana – net promoter score.

Her message – she spoke for nearly an hour - is that Flamingo is the first and only VRM software that allows organisations to better retain and acquire new customers by focusing on the individual customers’ needs backed by machine intelligence that allows the organisation to refine its offerings to meet them. It works with most customer relationship management (CRM) systems although Catriona is quick to point out that CRM is not about the “power of one (customer) on an organisation.”

There is a catch. No it is not too expensive – SMEs with say 100 customers or more will pay from AU$10,000 and enterprise with thousands of customers will pay from AU$100,000. Savings in retaining customers, instead of the much larger cost of gaining new customers, will pay for that.

The catch is that organisations using the software must be prepared to be responsive to customer needs. In part it is about changing from rigid fixed, bundles such as are found in the telco, finance and insurance industries – let customers to determine their call and data volumes – to allowing the model T Ford – any colour you like as long as its black – to be ordered with customisations that suit the customer.

“The only person who knows what you really want it you,” according to early adopter Kath Purkis of Her Fashion Box. “It gives us a leg up over competitors, especially in understanding why customers unsubscribe and how to counter that,” she added.

US author, columnist, Flamingo Board member, and fellow at the Centre of Information Technology and Society (CITS) at the University of California borrowed a quote from the book “The Cluetrain Manifesto” - “We are not seats or eye balls or end users or consumers. We are human beings - and our reach exceeds your grasp. DEAL WITH IT.”


It is nice to see an Australian company led by such a vivacious and driven CEO. The software looks good, the demonstration worked and I can see great scope for it for SMEs, enterprise, government departments and even membership based associations and clubs. Co-creation – the right product for me - is the go.









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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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