Sunday, October 13, 2013

Technology Elements in CRM 2.0



Customer Support

Self Support

Provide a unique customer experience by providing exceptional customer support

Sales Force Automation

Sales Intelligence

Empower the sales force with the tools and data they need to work efficiently

Enterprise 2.0
Collaboration tools

Allow employees to collaborate internally and externally with the applications they know and love


Collect and share knowledge in order to leverage what has already be done

Enterprise Search Engines

Find information quickly – independent of the place

Idea Banks

Self expression and information sharing with colleagues and customers

Social Bookmarking

Leverage the “wisdom of the crowds”


Reassemble existing pieces of information and functionality and build a new service

Really Simple Syndication (RSS)

Subscribe to streams of data on the WWW
(e.g. blogs, changes in a wiki, etc.)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Optimize the internet presence of the corporation for search engines, so that customers an easily find them

Campaign Management and Marketing Tools

Toolkit to find the right customers of a campaign and execute the campaign effectively

Analytical CRM
Business Intelligence (BI)

Analyze customer behavior and draw conclusions;
calculate lifetime value, up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, etc.

Real-time Events

Empower employees and management with real-time information; Automate actions based on real-time information and events


Sunday, April 7, 2013

CRM Strategy 2.0

The CRM 2.0 strategy defines the overall vision and outlining the process of how the customer relationships are handled by a company. This part of the corporate strategy includes general guidelines and processes dealing with customer contacts as well as business ethics related to the customer relations. Incorporating the Customer Relationship Model 2.0 into the corporate strategy can be a game changer. It might help discover blue oceans and unveil opportunities that would have been fallen through the cracks without meaningful customer conversations. CRM 2.0 might even unveil that the current corporate strategy is inefficient and needs to be adapted as a whole.

The Figure illustrates the CRM 2.0 strategy as being the root and driving force for the organizational structure and the technology. While this hierarchy is also valid for traditional CRM implementations, it is even more stringent for next generation Customer Relationship Models. Focusing or starting with technology results in a much higher risk of failure due to not aligned corporate culture and ineffective execution. Technology has to follow organizational and strategic guidelines.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Business Velocity - The Value of Networks

Bob Metcalfe introduced his theory of the value of a growing network around 1980, saying that Value ≈ n2. While Metcalfe was at that time trying to sell the concept of Ethernet to potential investors and the formula is heavily discussed by experts in the past years, it can still be applied in many areas of Web 2.0 growth.


Especially the “Critical Mass Crossover” is valid for communities within the social web. While there are thousands of social networking platforms available, the value for users exponentially increases with the number of registered members. Only a few platforms reach a critical mass of users that encourage others to follow and create a vicious circle resulting in market dominance. Being first is the guiding principle because consumers see very little value to sign up and actively engage in a social network that is just a copy of another one having an already grown community.

This results in a high pressure of fast implementation and dispersion of new ideas in order to pass the critical mass and fill the respective segment. The entry barrier for followers is relatively high, although there are usually niches to occupy in terms of uncovered regional or thematic territories.
Ebay is a good example for a company that pretty much completely occupied the global auction market for individuals. Although eBay fees eat up a substantial part of the auction returns for sellers, it is still the number one network because of the large number of potential buyers that do not see the value of searching on other platforms that are cheaper or free for the seller. This creates a tremendous entry barrier for followers and make eBay a company with a revenue of 14.07 billion US$ in 2012.

To gain such a competitive advantage, it is necessary to be fast to market and sometimes sacrifice quality product maturity in order to be first. Going to market with unstable or unfinished products is a difficult and risky endeavor – especially for large corporations that have an established and high valued brand. To avoid any damage to the brand, it is crucial to have an ongoing conversation with customers and let them know about the ongoing development and the existing issues. When communicating honestly, not only can brand damage be avoided, but also interested customers get involved and actively contribute to enhance and develop products and services. These users are more likely to become advocates for a brand or company.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

CRM is not about “managing” customers (anymore…)

CRM 2.0 is the move away from the transaction based “management” of customers (one way pushing marketing information) towards a real two way dialogue that is based on trust on both sides. To discover the full benefits of a changing customer behavior that is arising with new technologies, it is necessary for companies to open up, share information and start listening to customers instead of just pushing marketing messages out into the market. Engaging in such a meaningful conversation will help to discover new ideas and align products and services with the customer demand. It further leverages the willingness of users to contribute to the development and enhancement of products, services or ideas.

It has to be kept in mind that CRM 2.0 is not just a technology or software tool but consists of several components that all need to be considered and eventually implemented.


The underlying technology is only a minor matter but has to support the shown elements. Open Source software and Software as a Service (SaaS) can help to reduce the cost for the IT infrastructure in order to set the clear focus on the strategically more important parts like the required change in corporate culture.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The new 360° view (of customers)

imageCan you remember back in the year 2000, when all the CRM vendors started to preach the “360 degree view of the customer” vision? Although this is twelve years ago, the adoption and implementation of this concept has only been completed recently in many corporations.

And now – after having combined all the internal data sources and delivered the relevant customer information to the applications and users that need it (in real-time) – the game has changed again!

With the rise of social networks and the internet of things, there is so much more information available than just the internal customer database.
Especially the tech-savvy and younger generations are divulging many details about their preferences for products and services that can be used to tailor the often praised Customer Experience.
In addition, the rise of smartphones and RFID helps tracking customers and their behavior (consider privacy here!).

Ok – all these information is out there to be found… but HOW?

There are some Basics that have to be in place before you should add all the social media and machine data:

  • Master Data Management (MDM)
  • Customer Data Integration (CDI)
  • Storage (lots of it – be prepared for Big Data)

The next step is to get hands on all the new data:

  • Create a Facebook page and get many “Likers” – that’s how you get hold on their personal information
  • Text analytics – analyze all public available sources like twitter, blogs, forums, etc.
  • Have your customers opt-in to your marketing activities – ideally at first contact
  • Do excessive click-streaming on your web page(s)
  • Include offline shopping activities (if any)
  • Build a social graph and bring external data together with you customer database – it will be a challenge to tie together the multiple identities of your customers.
  • Decide where a decision needs to be real-time or where post-analysis is sufficient (not everything has to be real-time!)
  • Include the new data to calculate a more accurate customer value 
  • Integrate the external customer information into frontend(s) – e.g. CRM, Integrated Marketing Management (IMM), (Web-)Shops, etc.
  • Allow communication on all channels – you can still push customers to your preferred channel, but do not force them!

Are you already touching these new sources of customer data? Are you thinking of extending the variety of channels for the customer hub?
I am curious to hear your experiences, successes or failures in doing so. Feel free to comment or drop me a message.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Interactive Chat as a support (and sales) channel


I just read an internal memo about the huge success of our (SAS) “proactive chat” feature and was thinking about my masters' thesis, where I stated that the standard triple of telephone, mail and email might not be sufficient anymore and additional channels help to establish a better relationship with customers.

I cannot disclose the numbers here, but in terms of revenue generation, I was actually stunned how the chat feature helps to make money and generate leads. Now given this success, one can only anticipate how this helps improving customer relationships through an outstanding support experience.

While SAS putting a lot of effort into this – like a real-time decision when and how to present the chat feature – and has a large Inside Sales team to handle these incoming chat requests, it is also possible for very small companies to extend their list of channels by a chat.

I recently bought a new TV and while looking for the best price I was stumbling across a very small shop (probably a one-man show) that had a very good price and was pretty close, so I could go there and get the TV the same day while saving the shipping cost.
I had some questions and wanted to get a better feeling (since the price was really low), but writing an email was taking too long and I felt calling him might be a bad idea because it might interrupt too much and I would need several calls to answer questions that were coming up while I was still reading about the TV in the internet and comparing other prices.

The intermediate between a telephone call and an email was a chat. There was no fancy web-chat feature on the store’s website, but he had simply put a Skype-Button on it that was showing if he was online and available..

Cost free and still very convenient!

He could answer my questions, make me feel good about his business and got the deal… simple as that.

Bottom line is that there are many ways to use technology to help build a better / trusted relationship with your customers and improving the customer experience.

Chat is one of the channels that is increasingly getting popular as it fills the gap between phone calls and emails. Chat messages are more interactive and faster than email while still not as interruptive as a phone call.

Have you had a similar experience? Is your company also supporting chat as a medium the get in contact with customers?

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Avoid Social Media Failures

imageI just came across a blog post from Jeff Stibel where he talks about ways how to stay out of trouble when it comes to social media (both from a corporate as well as from a personal perspective).

While most of the issues that can arise with the Web 2.0 technologies and the “Social Web” are easily predictable with common sense, it is alarming how many people still make fundamental errors in dealing with these platforms.
CRM 2.0 (Social CRM) has to make sure doing these things right! It is a good idea to built a customer relationship on trust and transparency rather than blow out exaggerated marketing messages that have a massive negative impact on the brand when customers realize the truth.
Corporations have to keep in mind that customers are talking about them and (in our days) basically the whole world can read along.

Jeff actually brings it to the point when he says:
“…the most foolproof way to stay safe on social media is simply to be who you say you are. Pretending to be something you're not, or attempting to conceal or manipulate the truth is a surefire way to lose.”

…nothing more to say I guess.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Master-Thesis about CRM 2.0

I am thinking of putting my thesis online - would anyone be interested?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The End of Management

PT-AP668_manage_G_20100820153607[1] You have to read this very nice article about management and how it doesn’t fit into the 21st century:

Very good research collection on how the model of large managed corporations will be obsolete in the future and Enterprise 2.0 will get successful.

We can see many examples in the corporate landscape that follow the path of Enterprise 2.0 like

  • SAS (listed in the article)
  • Dell and Starbucks (collecting ideas from outside the company)
  • Nike (design your own products)
  • Zappos (flat management structure and motivated employees)

I am sure the list goes on and on (feel free to add examples in the comments section) and shows that there is a need for change in our thinking in regards to management and the way we (want to) work. That is why I wrote about the “Customer Relationship Model 2.0” and not referring to it as “Management” anymore…

What do you think about this? Another hype that will be forgotten in 5 years? Traditional Management is about to die? Or something in the middle?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Does every company need CRM?

crm-logo If you listen to the CRM tool vendors, it is crucial for every business (independent of its size) to use a CRM software in order to streamline its processes and collaborate effectively with customers and across the organization.

But is this really true for all kind of businesses and all sizes?

First off – I do not think that there is something like a “one fits all” solution for CRM. Even the vertical solutions from some vendors cannot immediately fulfill all the needs without adaption and customization.
And if you think of CRM as a Philosophy rather than a piece of software, installing a CRM tool will not provide a competitive edge anyway. The “me too” approach does not differentiate and thus is limited in its ability to deliver value to the company and its customers. Focus usually is around cost savings and process automation – nothing that will dramatically increase the customer satisfaction or the customer experience.

So what to do with small businesses (SMBs) that think about CRM and do not want to spend a large amount of money into licenses and consulting / implementation projects?
Good news is that there are so many free (or low cost) options out there that it makes sense to think about creating a CRM strategy that does not rely on a fully integrated CRM suite with a high price tag. With a limited number of users it is possible to create an outstanding customer experience by using the tools that customers use (which are usually the ones that are available without cost) and streamline the activities solely by outlining and communicating a CRM 2.0 strategy.

Ideally the used tools offer some kind of integration to avoid the creation of application or data silos. With the emerging standards, more and more applications will offer the possibility to take part in workflows that span multiple applications, departments or locations. But even if there is no possibility to automate this integration, I truly believe that it is not a big issue to do some of the internal collaboration manually.

Again, if the strategy is clearly set and communicated, it is no big deal to export and import some data and send it around via email… Crucial is that the people (i.e. employees) collaborate and pull together.
With smaller companies this is more important than a highly integrated CRM suite and well defined (but rather inflexible) automated business processes. The attitude of collaboration and co-creation will also help engaging better with customers and thus take the Customer Relationship Model to the next level…

Another side effect is that the employees are able to use the tools the know and love – this Enterprise 2.0 approach will also attract and maintain talent within a company.

In the next post I will outline some free or low-cost alternatives for SMBs when it comes to CRM – stay tuned…