When the Abacus was going through its â€˜trough of disillusionmentâ€™ in the early accountancy sweatshops of 2007 BC, a visionary Babylonian evangelized to his disenfranchised followers that soon it would be used to establish the true square root of two. He was right and they fell in line behind him. I forget his name now but the answer was 1.4something.
In 2007 AD, CRM projects and suppliers have suffered from comprehensive, public criticism. â€œOh, how we have been misrepresented and unfairly scorn-drenched,â€ the practitioners proclaim. In that case, we should remind those doubters of how powerful these tools are or soon will beâ€¦
So what is the CRM equivalent of the square root of two?
Well maybe an SOA version will come outâ€¦ or an ERP vendor will claim they will have a free one soonâ€¦ or maybe a rental model will ease server congestion. Surely CRM initiatives must persevere regardlessâ€¦ â€œCRM is a crucial part of our application fabric, all that is needed is strong internal sponsorship and a stringent vendor RFP selection process.â€ Tosh. (1)
Ultimately, I reckon weâ€™ve run out of ideas. The basics of providing adequate customer service via high volume communication media has stumped us â€“ â€œIt costs too much even if it is possible.â€ Tosh squared. (2)
The fundamental question is rarely being addressed: What processes are the largest contributors to valuable-customer loyalty and repeat business? The answer to this question may require a CRM technology selection project, and it may not, but any change will be centred around process and customer.
Progressive businesses create and nurture relationships; the majority of the rest try to â€˜Manageâ€™ them. This is apparently the â€˜Mâ€™ in CRM, which is maybe where the problem starts. I have built very few relationships with my service providers, so how can THEY manage them. When I pass away they will remember me as an unrelated collection of transactions. And then invoice me for late payment of a utility bill.
But technology can build relationships as well as prohibit them! I am in awe at the highly emotional consumer electronics industry that inspires us with yet more visible dots and lines, higher fidelity noises and digital maps projected directly onto our retinas by solar-powered spectacles. We keep buying this stuff because it makes our lives better; we actually start to love the vendors of these gadgets because they make us happy. CRM Software makes us grumpy. It generally lacks the type of intuitive, intent-driven design that has shaped advanced consumer electronics. Imagine a bank thatâ€™s as easy to work with as an iPhone.
I suspect that a modern day Babylonian would predict the following for CRM:
1. We will do the basics consistently well at a price that reflects the offering in context.
2. We will align the interaction experience to the customers â€˜intentâ€™ and personalise the service through insight into the individual.
3. We will pilot creative new ideas, making customer service a hotbed for innovation and determine the net effect on customer repeat-business of every new wave.
4. We will not be diverted by market traders who holler â€˜Buy now, pay over the next 4 yearsâ€™ or â€˜This one comes free with a stock control systemâ€™. There is work involved and then there will be more work â€“ itâ€™s just life.
The forthcoming results from the intelligent application of all these points will make the hard lessons worthwhile!
(1) – noun, chiefly British informal: nonsense
(2) – nonsense squared (utter nonsense)
Article contributed by Paul White, Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Technology