I am back in the office, virtual though it is, after last week’s CRM Summit in Washington, DC. It is always inspiring to be around over 600 professionals whose jobs day-to-day are to improve the experience that customers have with an organization.
During the presentations I gave on “Social Networking as a Disrupter to Customer Service Processes” and “CRM Market Analysis,” I asked four very basic questions:
1) Without thinking about why you believe the way you do, just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following: Would you say that your company’s CRM Strategy has been successful?
2) Again, without thinking about why you believe the way you do, just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following: Would you say that the tactical, customer-focusedprojects that your company has done over the past five years have been successful?
I’m betting you know the answers, because you would answer the same way: More than 90% of the attendees said that their gut reaction to the first question is, “No, our CRM Strategy has not been a success.” While the answer is yes as to whether the more tactical projects around areas such as eCommerce, Sales effectiveness, web self-service, and contact center analytics were successful.
What do we conclude? Perhaps it is that the big, boil-the-ocean CRM that some of us thought was achievable was the wrong way of going about improving our customer processes. The right way, that we intuitively have undertaken to approach the challenge, is to model the many components that go into the customer experience, and improve each of these components individually. These many tactical improvements, in the context of understanding the customer experience, are yielding measureable results in higher customer retention, lower cost to serve, better reputations, and improved NetPromoter scores.
The third and fourth questions were also interrelated:
3) Are you beginning to experiment with social networking methods, technologies and process?
4) Have you figured out how to make these initiatives profitable to the business?
You know the answer here, too: Yes, over 80 percent of businesses and organizations are nibbling away at social networking, but, No, it is not clear how, exactly, embracing social networking, and in particular encouraging your customers to blog, chat, post reviews and/or video or other add content and ideas, will help make your business more profitable or efficient in growing the business.
I don’t have any neat conclusions for you. I am sharing the experience of many hundreds of businesses and IT executives, from companies and governments across North America, who came together to gain insight and share perspectives. And their assessment is that it is critical to track customer trends, but it is tough to know exactly how the future will unfold. It is important to continually experiment with small projects so that we can transfer some of these technologies and practices at the appropriate time.
The CRM Summit was an ideal venue to observe the many ways that organizations define success with improving customer processes, and as a sanity check to measure what works well and what works less well. Our next CRM Summit is in London in March 2009, so stay tuned to how it will change to adapt to what we heard from you last week, and will hear over the next few months.
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