The Evolution of CRM

0
541

Share on LinkedIn

evolution – a process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage, often to a more complex form. (various sources)

In looking at different definitions with different perspectives and a business lens, the one above made the most sense to me. After 16 months, it was time to revisit a diagram created for “A Guide to Understanding Social CRM“. I will not go so far as to call my earlier work wrong, naïve is a better descriptor. The evolution diagram contained my thought process at that time. Without over using the concept, my own thinking has evolved.

For starters, the term ‘Social’ has become a blocker of progress. The attempted isolation of the social components from CRM do both concepts a disservice. The Social CRM discussion has pushed CRM into a bit of corner. How can a relationship exist without social elements? The constant discussions of definitions are nothing more than a distraction. We simply need to focus on achieving business results; so let’s get moving. CRM needs to incorporate the social elements (time, place and context) – call it what you want, define it how you will.

Both the technology and the strategy of CRM need to evolve, and then need to do so in lock step with each other. The fabric of any organization is the people, so who better to shepherd the change and embrace the technology? It cannot be people from just one part of the organization either, it needs to be a team effort. You may believe that CRM needs to evolve into a different ‘something’, possibly needing a different name; to each their own. I am not saying I will not use the term Social CRM, as I am perfectly willing to be a non-conformist, as long as I fit in. I do not believe that it is just about ‘Social’ + ‘CRM’ either.

Here is my quick $.02 on version 1.0 of the diagram:

  • We do not need to evolve to SCRM, we simply need to evolve CRM
  • To say that Social CRM means everyone is a bit over simplistic
  • While we would like to believe it is all about customer defined processes, it is not that simple
  • To believe that customers can set their own hours is great in theory, but let’s be real.
  • It is not simply about the number of channels, rather when and how people use the channels
  • The transaction will never go away, it needs to become a stop along the journey, somewhere near the middle.
  • CRM does need to become outside in, but it does not need to become Social CRM in order to get there.

There are some other points to be made, but I would rather talk about the new and improved diagram; so we can see what I will trash in another 16 months. A I little self-deprecation is good for the soul!


For a diagram called evolution, it seemed more natural to represent the transition as a timeline, via past and future, as opposed to trying to definitely state this is X and that is Y. This is not a binary state diagram; it is a continuum of progress. If you are a practitioner within a company, or have clients, they are somewhere along this path. The “Past” might be 5 years ago, or it could last week. The future could be as close as tomorrow, or 5 years out. The segments outlined in the diagram are certainly not the only ones, this is not a complete list, nor is it meant to be one. Finally, while it might seem like a good idea to move everything at the same pace, it is not always possible. Should you ‘wait for stragglers?’; adopting certain parts ahead of others? Not a question I can answer, it depends.

‘Who’ is about Access to data and systems

Front line Employees and their Managers were the only ones to have access to the technological components of CRM. Looking forward, giving access to information and insights to as many people as reasonable needs to be considered. Depending upon where you on along the journey, the type of industry you are in and other factors will determine the specifics of who needs access to the system and data.

‘What’ is all about the end-to-end process

End-to-end processes, specifically in the modern ear, have traditionally been linear and inflexible. The lack of flexibility in process leads to inefficiencies. What CRM needs to do, in order to keep up is to help organizations adapt to the needs of the customer and coordinate internally and across channels of communication

‘When’ is about the duration and durability of relationships

It is time to increase the duration and durability of your relationship with your customers. We need to move beyond short term, tactical myopic focus of ‘a Sale, an Issue or a Complaint’. If the lifetime value and long term engagement are considered, the CRM will have really progressed.

‘Where’ is about the location and context of interactions

Customers can and will communicate with you any which way they can. Customers were taught to use the phone, instructed on the finer points of an IVR and coerced into using email and web forms. Now it is their turn! They not only want to add more channels to the mix, they expect you to be aware of all the other channels and are quite tired of typing in their 14 digit code on a touch tone phone, only to repeat to the agent!

‘Why’ – Because (sorry, could not resist)!

This should be the easiest to make clear. In one version of the diagram I simply left the past blank, because people were never clear why CRM was implemented and in the future I simply put “Because”. Maybe that is a better fit? It is really about changing the focus of the initiative from people and roles inside the organization to delivering value to people outside the organization. Is this customer centric? It can be, but that buzzword compliant phrase comes with its own baggage.

‘How’ should we communicate?

The hardest part is the how. There is no secret sauce; it takes hard work and planning. There is no infomercial, which promises nirvana for no effort expended. The fundamental do start with how and when you communicate outside of your organization. Communications need to move beyond broadcast, fractured and reactive. It is time to focus on listening, learning, engaging, and talking with your customers – being collaborative with a specific end-point. This is not easy, and requires the largest mind shift of the whole lot!

This is how my thinking has evolved, what about yours? This does not answer many questions, which I will be addressing in the coming weeks and months. Topics such as; how does this evolution impact specific departments or roles within the organization? Does this impact how the contact center of the future works? To end back from where I started; the future of CRM is certainly not simpler. CRM in the future is certainly going to need to evolve to a more complex form.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mitch Lieberman
Finding patterns and connecting the dots across the enterprise. Holding a strong belief that success is achieved by creating tight alignment between business strategy, stakeholder goals, and customer needs. systems need to be intelligent and course through enterprise systems. Moving forward, I will be turning my analytical sights on Conversational Systems and Conversational Intelligence. My Goal is to help enterprise executives fine-tune Customer Experiences

ADD YOUR COMMENT

Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here