Archives for February 2013

Isn’t It All CRM?

As i read this recent post from Mike Boysen, I had a flashback to twenty years ago.  Mike raised some very compelling questions and burning issues with respect to the success of CRM.  A few quotes from the first few paragraphs of his post set the tone.

“…numerous studies have shown that the impact of CRM on an organization’s performance is simply not where one would expect, given the enormous investments companies are making.”

“The simple truth is that technology, by itself, cannot create business outcomes.”

Spot on.  So here’s the thing.  I completed my first SFA (sales force automation) project in 1987.  And after…well I lost count of the number of CRM projects…the questions about enterprise, and more importantly, customer value haven’t really changed in more than two decades.  Companies, customers of CRM, have spend countless billions of dollars on CRM technology.  And as Mike rightfully questions, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of consensus on the value that has been created from this investment.  Mike goes on in his post to suggest specific changes that the CRM industry should consider to address this customer value dilemma.

I would argue that the responsibility is not at the feet of the CRM industry, but falls squarely in the lap of the enterprise customers of the CRM industry.  Since those early days, concept of the “customer-centric enterprise” has been top of mind.  How many organizations have achieved it?  Those that have, haven’t done it through the delivery of a CRM application on a desktop.

They’ve done it through core values, culture and strategies that include every traditionally silo’d function in the enterprise as part of the customer-centric business model.  That’s not just sales, marketing and customer service.  That’s finance, HR, logistics, manufacturing.  Every enterprise function.  Every enterprise function has an impact on the customer experience.  Every one.

So, until enterprises can clearly articulate and implement their customer-centric business model, is it really incumbent upon the CRM industry to take any different path than its currently on?

CRM 5 In 5

[We’re not all pretty yet over here.  But, I have things to say.  So, the window dressing will come later]

What better way to kick off my new home than with a reflection back at a story posted around this time last year.

The start of the new year is inondated with predictions of all sorts.  I wonder.  Are there more predictions than resolutions?  Does a similar portion of the predicting population go back and revisit their thoughts as do those that make resolutions? In other words, woefully few?

Well this is a tale of a different sort.  This story started in January 2011 with a post called the CRM 5 in 5, modeled after IBM’s annual 5 in 5 look into the future of technology.  In that post, Lauren Carlson from the site Software Advice asked some leading CRM thinkers for their views on the next 5 big trends in CRM.

In this follow up post, the Software Advice team went back to this panel for their follow up thoughts on crowdsourcing, mobile, curated data, open APIs, NLP & personalized predictive analytics:

  • Denis Pombriant, CEO of Beagle Research Group LLC
  • Brent Leary, owner of CRM Essentials
  • Esteban Kolsky, principal and founder of ThinkJar
  • Brian Vellmure, CEO and founder of Initium LLC / Innovantage
  • Paul Greenberg, owner of 56 Group LLC

Additionally, as a follow up to last year’s topics, Rachel Ramsey of the Software Advice team send me this commentary on the convergence of gamification and crowdsourcing.

Gamification was a huge buzzword in 2011. Companies providing these technologies promised increased community engagement, productivity and other improvements by layering in game-like tools such as leader boards, badges and virtual scoreboards. While popular, there was varying opinions about  success of these platforms at the time.

 In 2012, our group foresaw gamification moving from buzzword to business strategy. These programs proved real results increasing customer loyalty, brand advocacy and engagement. We touched on that topic again this year, but through the lens of crowdsourcing.

In my mind, that’s a pretty good list.  And who am I to argue with the group above?

I will add this though.  My prediction (and this is more like history repeating itself.  So, you have a better than average chance of being in the money if you bet on this one) is that a significant portion of the projects in the categories above will fail to deliver customer or business value, if the CRM table stakes are not addressed first.

What are those CRM basics?

  • Customer value, strategy and business process first
  • Technology second
  • Focus on customer insights, not data

My brain can only think in threes.  So, that’s all I got.  What’s your prediction?

On the Move

I figured it was about time I got my act together and moved this blog over to

As I was over there prepping, it occurred to me that I’ve had that domain since July 2010.  Procrastination personified.

I wish to thank everyone that subscribed and followed me here.  Except you damn spammers and hackers that got me booted from Google+.  You are the catalyst that got me off my duff.  So in a strange way, thanks to you too.

So, I hope you will find your way over to my new site.  And, I will do my best to make it worth the trip.  Sorry, no donuts

Are You A Proprietor?

Then why do you need apps?

For those have read more than one or two of my posts, you know some of my ideas come from…well…peculiar places.

This one also comes with an “I’m confident in my man skin” admission.  So, let’s see who else of the XY chromosomal persuasion will admit it.  I dig the movie Beautiful Girls.  Even without the qualification as a “chick flick”, its a really entertaining movie.   Ok, I won’t ask any guys to raise their hands in support of me.  But, you know who you are.

There is though, a scene in the movie where Michael (Noah Emmerich) opens his new pub to his friends.  He offers his first new customer’s “apps”.  They all, in unison, retort “apps?”.  Michael says “yea.  I’m a proprietor now.  I got apps”.  You know, chicken wings, chips, dip.  Those apps.

Well, when it comes to mobile customer service, I’ve come to a realization that, when the word “mobile” is mentioned among most folks I’ve been talking to recently, the first thing that comes to mind is apps.  Gotta have an app.

Do you?  Really?

In my business, I’ve spend the past several months mapping out dozens of the most common use cases for which my client’s customers engage them for customer service.  And the reality is that the chasm between “tethered” channels and mobile, particularly mobile self service, is pretty sizable.

It reminds me of a social media workshop I facilitated last Summer with a roomful of senior marketing pros.  I asked a rorschach test question.  “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say ‘social media’?”  You know the answer.  It was Facebook and Twitter.

In this case, I would guess the answer to that question for mobile customer service would be “apps”.

But why?

There are so many applications (no pun intended) for mobile customer service that are a far cry from the  self service nirvana-esque app that seems to be the predominant focus.  And, this chasm also seems to be the main challenge in moving forward with mobile-enabling customer service delivery. Because the level of development and integration to deliver true mobile customer self-service is pretty complex.

So, I have a two step suggestion.  This is nothing earth shattering.  But, from what I’m hearing, it appears like there’s value in calling it out.

Step one.  Start simple.  Start with mobile-enabling your current web presence.  What’s more frustrating than having to swipe your way around a standard website on a 3×5 inch screen?

Step two.  Keep your back end agent-based process the way they are today.  Heresy, I know.  And, think of the mobile device as just another portal into your contact center.  Make functionality like click to chat, click to call, send an email and sms front and center on your mobile website.  Get your customers comfortable with engaging with your contact center through the mobile device.

Then, if the adoption rate grows.  You have your business case for investing in the bigger project of mobile self service.

If it’s applicable to your proprietorship.