Getting the Right Jobs Done with CRM


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What are consumers of CRM missing by focusing on the features presented by vendors over the past 20 years? What are the vendors missing by not finding new services to productize within their offerings? Are we seeking a 360 degree view of the customer on the correct plane, or would we be better served by focusing on 36 degrees from a different perspective.

CRM has been an execution tool for sales, marketing and service organizations for two decades or more. While it would be unfair to suggest there is no highly specialized technology developed for any of these areas, more often than not it is correct to suggest that the cool stuff (and there’s not much) is embedded into complex offerings with features that will never be used by a particular organization. Yet, they are paying for them.

So what features haven’t been baked into CRM yet? Let’s look at it from the capability standpoint. At one point in time people actually typed, “Xeroxed”, inserted into envelopes and mailed communications. It was expensive and we had to be careful in whom we made the investment. The capability was simply setting this manual process up to run smoothly and cheaply with the minimal technology of the time. We also had to make sure we weren’t wasting money on customers or prospects who had little chance of buying.

Then we were able to have our computers do much of the work in conjunction with printers that had capabilities baked in; such as stapling multiple sheets, printing envelopes and collating (still expensive). Eventually, users could perform a manual mail merge to E-mail, which reduced a lot of work and cost (but got the same basic job done).The perceived cheapness of this process lulled organizations into a sense that more is better; so more of the same was sent to everyone as we became less careful and diminished a critical capability.

Today, there are services which can automate this even further; but are organizations capable of building an automated flow that creates the most value for their prospects and customers? The technology certainly exists to make experiences for our customers better than we could have ever imagined. To me this is part of CRM, but an area of CRM that is only practiced at the highest levels and on the bleeding edge; and it’s not about the software. This is where capabilities are developed to make organizations more competitive and do so in a way where they can continually improve and spot the next best products, services and experiences to create. They simply don’t rely on software to do this for them.

However, maybe the technology behind CRM is due for some new capabilities. The challenge for the current slate of vendors is to see beyond the products they have created. Or maybe a new set of CRM vendors will come along. A vendor that understands what their customers’ want (versus what product they need to sell) should be able to incorporate how they came to that understanding through some sort of offering; possibly a newly productized service, or an architecture that supports customer-centric business models. We can only wonder what that will look like, but here are a few (there are many more) observations to get the juices flowing.

What CRM is What CRM could be
The bulk processing of outbound messages The prospect pulling the specific information they need, when they need it – because it’s available where and when they need it.
The maximization of a current period’s revenues by harvesting low hanging fruit; maybe at the expense of profitability Building sustainable and profitable organic growth strategies and execution tactics by aligning propositions with what customers‘ value.
Management through employee activity metrics and resource-focused industry standard benchmarks The alignment of appropriate activities to predicted customer profitability or lifetime value. One-size does not fit all.
Little Understanding of Customers Deep Understanding of Customers

CRM begins before a salesperson is handed a lead. It begins before a marketer designs a logo or hits the send button. A 360 degree view of the customer means more than providing communication history, credit status and customer service issues to those involved with touchpoints. What about…

The way I view things, the job(s) that CRM can be hired to do start much earlier than the selection and implementation of technology. But most companies struggle to find the starting point or the most valuable path to the customer. CRM…

  • …can be hired to help a company learn what customers value
  • …can be hired to help a company learn which customers are loyal
  • …can be hired to learn which loyal customers are also profitable
  • …can be hired to suggest, or assist in the planning of, activities along the journey (and channels) that are both preferred by the customer yet profitable for the company.
  • …can be hired to highlight and facilitate the hand-offs, touchpoints and collaboration between actors; both front stage, back stage and with audience (the customers).

What we have today was designed for the hierarchical command and control organization of the 20th century; where products are created to be sold – not customers located to be served. There has always been this thread through the CRM discussions, going back 15 years, about customer-centricity. Yet, the products we commonly call CRM provide no support for an organization re-organizing itself this way. We align around attributes maintained in current systems (location, firmographics, demographics) but not as much on situation or job-to-be-done. We can’t easily align our organizations around the proper segmentation of customers until technology begins to enable it.

What jobs will companies demand that CRM help get done in the future and which organizational roles will be making these demands? Are the days of the sales or marketing departments driving CRM nearing an end, or will the voices of more roles be added to the conversation?

Thoughts? (Agree?/Disagree?/Love me?/Hate me?)

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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