July 2009 | Volume 28 / Number 2
CRM, BPO & Teleservices
CRM Executives Speak Out
By Brendan Read,
Our approach is for companies to participate and ideally lead the discussion. Social technologies have given the customer a greater voice than they ever had and this is a very good thing. Companies need to address these technologies and leverage them for strategic advantage. In their operations, they need to establish a SMS channel into their support organization. They should integrate Facebook (News - Alert) and Twitter into the 360 degree view of the customer and they should deploy a community for their customers to participate in. They need to understand the social structure of the new social media. There absolutely is a new language, an unwritten hierarchy of those that participate if you will and not, understanding and embracing this will be a disaster.
The concept of the CRM suite is just plain dead. Companies tried with sometimes tens of millions of dollars to isolate their internal operations into a single system. The reality is that these systems, most of which are mature and well designed caused different operations to conform to a procedure, sometimes at odds with how they are intentionally structured. So, it just didn’t work.
We suggest that a system be designed so that each department leveraging can actually execute their operational processes according to their charter, and that each department acquire manage and leverage whatever technology is necessary to accomplish this goal. Then through system integration, or if it is a well designed system that can handle federation of operational purpose, cohesion can be achieved. It is perhaps the longest path, but ultimately the best for a company.
SaaS (News - Alert) is an extremely expensive option for most organizations in the short and long run. However, cloud deployments with term or perpetual licenses are now available, and this ultimately is the cheaper path that still gives you the flexibility of SaaS.
Microsoft (News - Alert) Dynamics (www.microsoft.com/dynamics) Brad Wilson, general manager, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Business Solutions.
Ultimately, people who are equipped with a strong CRM system will be able to ride out tough economic times and come out on the other side in a better competitive position. You have to be proactive and structured about how you engage with your customers. The pools of people considering purchases are dwindling, so you have to make smart decisions about how you connect with them.
We realize that organizations are increasingly faced with supporting multiple mobile computing standards that frequently include combinations of Windows Mobile and other devices. Microsoft and TenDigits have partnered to deliver CRM to enterprises by providing centralized support for Windows Mobile and Blackberry devices, while also enabling user access to Dynamics CRM data even when disconnected.
Social technologies provide opportunities - and challenges - to the way that businesses understand and deal with individuals and groups. The ability to engage deeply with customers around activities that they spend time on, and to engage with their extended network of friends and family, gives businesses the opportunity to learn more, and to deliver more valuable products and services. On the other hand, the traditional one-to-one "dialogue" between a company and its customer is often disrupted as social groups and communities continue to increase their relevance as a trusted source of information and buying preferences. While it's not clear which technologies and business models will ultimately win out in this space, businesses need to engage now to drive learning into the organization and to build new strategies and capabilities.
Salesforce.com (News - Alert) (www.salesforce.com) Al Falcione, Senior Director of Product Marketing
In this economy, most companies do not have the capacity or desire to borrow money and make large capital purchases such as for data centers, hardware, and business software applications. Instead, they are turning to cloud computing and paying modest monthly fees to build and run enterprise applications. CRM is even more important in this economic environment because companies need to keep every customer and close every deal. Salesforce CRM applications have helped its customers grow revenue by an average of 34 percent and productivity by 33 percent according to third party research of more than 3,500 customers.
These days, when you have an issue with a product or service, what do you do? You probably Google (News - Alert) your query, or increasingly you are likely to turn to your social networks on Facebook or Twitter versus calling a customer service help line. Unfortunately, many of today’s contact centers are disconnected from these social conversations. Agents can't push solutions out to portals easily, nor can they benefit in real time from the knowledge that is being created by the customer community. With the Salesforce Service Cloud, companies and service agents can join these conversations, tapping into the knowledge and conversations happening in the cloud today.
Today, companies are demanding fast results, low risk, and are unwilling to lay out large, upfront capital costs for technology. The SaaS, or cloud computing model, is replacing traditional CRM software by offering a low risk, pay-as-you-go approach to CRM where companies can see results quickly.
Sword Ciboodle (www.sword-ciboodle.com) Ted Hartley, Chief Operating Officer, Sword Ciboodle Americas
The current recovery will have very few similarities with previous booms. In the past, when downturns and ultimately upturns took place, organizations controlled the relationship between them and their customers. Today, this balance of power has shifted in favor of the customer, and the phrase ‘the customer is king’ has never been more true. To that end, consumer buying patterns will be shaped by how well companies interact with customers, listen to their complaints and feedback, and respond to their needs.
Consumers will also be more cautious than with previous booms and will direct their demand towards organizations they feel they can trust and develop a strong relationship with. The most recent downturn has transferred power to the consumer, increasing their already high expectations and requiring companies to be transparent and authentic in all engagements. This will improve retention and help to convert customers who are ‘on the fence’ buyers. CRM solution providers will need to ensure that their products are able to cope with these factors by providing companies with the agility to respond to changing customer demands while also improving transparency.
Mobile devices enable an organization to extend the customer experience from one spectrum of service to another. The ability to capture details, enquiries, and cross- and up-sell opportunities while standing in front of the customer is a massive opportunity for an organization. However, this opportunity can only be fully realized if real-time synchronization with the customer experience application exists. Without this, crucial information can be lost, opportunities for additional revenue missed, and the enterprise view of the customer profile can become incorrect.
For companies that utilize a process-based approach to CRM, supporting mobility is simply the addition of another channel that is already supported by their existing CRM investment. For these companies, it’s about building customer processes once, deploying anywhere, and leveraging existing investments to enable more channels, more choices, more customer touchpoints and better service. Companies that do not have a process-based CRM architecture will face more challenges when trying to integrate mobility.
We are seeing more need for companies to integrate the social media experience into their CRM systems and strategies. Companies should evaluate the social media assets available and compare them to their strategic vision for how they want to engage with the customer. It’s not about using the most social tools, but which ones are right for your business and your customers.
Around 10-15 years ago, there was a trend toward multiple CRM point solutions, with a range of products targeting niche areas, such as marketing automation, sales force automation, and customer service. Today, there is a new trend around point solutions with different delivery and deployment models, including software as a service, open source, and platforms as a service, offering companies more options with which to customize their own solution.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that large enterprise-wide initiatives are a thing of the past. They are, in fact, still very much out there, but are being deployed in smaller bursts with a ‘think big, start small’ vision, rather than the traditional big bang approach. This phased approach to deployment makes the solution self-funding, delivers early ROI, and starts improving the customer experience from the outset. CIS