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CRM vendor differentiation with the all look just the same

by Michael Maoz  |  April 30, 2014  |  3 Comments

Listening to clients as they search for the best software solutions struggle with the sameness of description that the software providers use to describe their wares. A refrain from the Pete Seeger song from the 1960’s (but written by Malvina Reynolds) comes to mind. (If you are one of the rare individuals not to have experienced the existential melange of glee and dread that comes from listening to this brief strum, then here it is… But here you get the idea:

There’s a pink one and a green one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And so off we go as prospective users of systems for multi-channel and cross-channel consistency, and omni-channel capabilities, and look at customer experience suites, customer assistance, social customer engagement, and customer engagement and on and on mining for gold but mostly facing the giant mullock heaps of non-differentiation.

Here is what would be nice: rather than the suppliers just listing their capabilities and products, maybe instead the prospect could create a ‘day in the life’ description of their issue: the business outcomes, the locations, the preferences for specific models (on premise/private-cloud/public cloud/hybrid delivery), the number and type of users and their locations. And then using the vendor-supplied template and some configuration logic, Presto, an ‘outside-in’ response to the client/customer/prospect issue.

That, the vendors would say, would be really hard. And then we look at new sites like roomsurf (  ) where a half-million US rising university students find roommates by completing surveys about their wants/needs and then finding a match, and then you ask yourself: how hard would it be, really? What would it cost compared to the massive Marketing budgets put in place to obfuscate even as they pretend to reveal uniqueness?

This only happens when prospects become more demanding. Many of us are highly influenced by the company whose messages appear most prominently and most frequently and have the awareness and tacit approval of the CIO/CFO/CEO. Then the incredibly talented smaller providers end up spinning their wheels attempting to get a space at the table despite great products.

So, dear CIO and VP of Sales or Customer Experience or Support/Care, are we ready to demand more focus on an ‘outside-in’ set of messages from vendors, or do we keep humming Little Boxes?

Category: applications  business-intelligence  cio  cloud  crm  gamification  innovation-and-customer-experience  intent-driven-enterprise  leadership  saas-and-cloud-computing  strategic-planning  

Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on CRM vendor differentiation with the all look just the same

  1. Yes, Yes, YES! Ecstasy from Gartner! But it’s difficult to convince people of the marketing value of “day in the life,” which, by the way, is valuable for selling more than just CRM systems….

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