The 360-Degree View is DOA

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Missing the Smaller Picture?

Everyone wants to build a 360-degree view of their customers. Some CRM practitioners, per a Forrester Research survey from earlier this year, even think that having a 360-degree view is essential for succeeding with CRM.

But in most cases, having a 360-degree view is overkill. Instead, you should be asking: “What information do our customer-facing employees need to be more productive in their jobs?” Because just giving people a bigger picture with lots of details won’t deliver business results.

Instead of showing everybody the big picture, start by asking how CRM can advance one or more of these CRM-related business goals: increasing organizational efficiency, improving revenue growth, or creating higher levels of customer satisfaction.

Less Is More

For example, I recently visited with a mid-Atlantic high-technology company that needs to improve the effectiveness of its CRM system. Currently, the CRM system displays so much customer data at once that the telephone sales team is paralyzed by information overload. As a result, when salespeople get a live person on the phone, they frequently fail to make that crucial, immediate connection, and lose the sale.

Customer service organizations face similar challenges. Instead of putting all of the information that a customer service representative requires on a single screen, many companies spread the information across numerous tabs or even systems. Phone up one of these organizations with a service request, and you can practically hear the meter ticking while the service rep apologizes for their system being so slow, as they navigate numerous screens to try and resolve your problem.

Find the Right Slices of the Pie

Essential information about the Challenger, as organized by Edward Tufte.

One of the world’s foremost experts on envisioning information, Edward Tufte, has famously written about the 1986 Challenge space shuttle disaster, and how if NASA engineers had visually presented the correct subset of pre-launch information to managers — namely, comparing O-ring damage versus temperature — in an understandable format, then they would have seen that the launch should be scuttled.

In other words, the failures that led to the Challenger explosion didn’t have to do with a lack of information, but rather with not finding the precise information required, and in the allotted timeframe, to help decision-makers make the best choice.

Think of the Cost

If the first problem with building a 360-degree view is that the people who most need the information often can’t see the forest for the trees, the second issue is that building a view of everything can be horrifically expensive.

Imagine all of the data the typical company retains on its customers: marketing information — all of the clicks a customer makes on their website. records of pass-through browsing, leads, documents shared — plus purchasing history, each customer’s purchased product SKUs, a complete service request history, accounts receivable contacts, and more. Getting to a 100% 360-degree view of all of that, as some advocate, is a major enterprise integration project.

Instead, why not first determine exactly what you need to know or don’t know, and proceed accordingly? Notably, Innoveer client Genzyme Biosurgery says that the success of its Salesforce.com rollout, including high levels of user adoption, owes as much to its “pre-work” as to delivering any specific features or functionality to salespeople.

Know The Goal

One caveat: Some organizations have a 360-degree view of their customers, and truly benefit from having that perspective. But in such cases, this is the result of their having an advanced CRM program with a high level of process maturity.

In other words, having a 360-degree view should be the result of already having advanced marketing, sales force effectiveness and customer service processes in place, rather than a goal unto itself.

Ask What CRM Can Do For You

Because for most organizations, what’s required is much less than an absolutely complete view of every customer. For example, we’re working with a large publishing concern, with a project it’s dubbed Customer 360. At least, that was the original idea. After taking a brief amount of time to detail — up front — exactly what the company needs, we managed to distill the company’s requirements into a much tighter project scope.

Geometrically speaking, the result isn’t a view of the entire customer data pie, but rather just the parts that help this business identify the best leads and close the most sales. Does the company regret not having a complete, 360-degree view of each customer? Not at all. In fact, they tell us the view’s great.

Learn More

What don’t you know about your CRM program, that’s hurting it? Rather than pursuing a 360-degree view of all customer data, determine which CRM program unknown unknowns are making your organization less effective, to determine the crucial next step for making your marketing, sales or customer service program more effective.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.

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