It is hard to comprehend, but tomorrow it will be just ten years exactly since Mark Zukerberg registered his domain, THEFACEBOOK.COM. There was just about nothing of a social network before that. And smart phones? Even seven years ago we were tied to our laptops and desktops and non-smart mobile phones, and there was not much to do on social networks. Only in 2007 did most smartphone technology begin to emerge. But very much like an avalanche triggered by nothing more than a rifle shot gains momentum and speed and mass with incredible swiftness and devastating force, so has the power of networks buried most of our CRM strategies. Today as never before in history, the closer we get to the customer, the more cutting edge the processes and technologies must be.
The simplicity of this is empirically shown in a way that David Hume would appreciate. Look at the connectedness of the average consumer and/or business person: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Waze, Pinterest, text messaging, Facetime – and we haven’t gotten to telephone or email or chat or self service interactions.
Given the dauntingly complex skein in customer communication and engagement, how can an organization hope to create a meaningful path through the business or enterprise or department for the customer? How can contextual communication happen when so few of the threads are understood or owned by the business?
And how can any sense of a CRM Application Suite emerge to ‘manage’ the seamingly unmanageable? How can we begin to understand where in the experience journey our customer is at at any given place, time, or channel? Or what mode they are in? Not mood: MODE. Are they on business or not, stressed and hurried or relaxed, shopping or just looking, loyal or on the fence or upset and untrusting? Do they prefer to do everything themselves on their mobile device, or are there parts of the process where they want your help? Where are they failing?
Can any supposed “CRM Suite” map the customer experience, the touchpoints used, for which process, the success of the engagement/interaction, and create, analyze and store these as metrics used to generate profit and launch the next step in the process?
The customer processes will only continue to splinter across more channels, and no software vendor will succeed in the next four years to deliver the technologies to support the key customer processes. The vendors can try – and they are trying: just think of the dozens of acquisitions in the CRM software space that have happened in the past three years. Just this week there were several more, including Microsoft’s acquisition of Parature (if you are a client you can see that here http://gtnr.it/KMV6n8 ) and Verint’s intended purchase of Kana Software.
For the CIO, the concept of ‘buying’ a ‘CRM Suite’ will be, to reference the character Pierre in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, a cauchemar, a nightmare. The alternative? Look at the best of the applications to handle core sales, marketing and customer support, while looking to best of breed applications and custom tools and processes for the customer engagement bits that are changing fastest, such as customer communication, knowledge management, analytics, and social media engagement.
What do you see happening? As always – thank you for your emails and insights!
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