Friday, December 26, 2008

CRM 2.0 tipping point?

questionmark What will be the tipping point for CRM 2.0? What (and when) will be the single event to make it mandatory for every company to succeed?

Will it reach the critical mass at all!? Is this just another hype and one more buzzword that will be forgotten in two years?

There are examples like Apple that show it is possible to operate a successful company without actively including customers in the process of creating and evolving products and services (although they do a very good job in listening to their customers...)

Maybe there will be two kinds of CRM strategies in the future - one that gets into a true two-way discussion with the customer and builds on co-creation and co-operation; and another one that keeps focus on operational efficiency or competitive advantage through unique (kept secret as long as possible) features and functions?

I believe it is possible to create an outstanding customer experience without any CRM 2.0 strategy. It might depend on the product or the corporate culture if it makes sense to deeply involve customers in the processes or not.

Taly Weiss collected some predictions form 'Social Media influencers' on what they think will change in 2009:

A Merry Christmas to all of you out there...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Business Velocity

Ciaran Dynes (Director of Product Management at Progress Software) presented some numbers that made it very visual how fast our world is currently changing... and it will get faster and faster in the future...

Business Velocity
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: business velocity)

With this ever increasing business velocity, the need for a new Customer Relationship Model is also increasing. The traditional CRM systems and strategies are not able to keep up with this acceleration.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Company Model of the future?

Zappos is not very much known over here in Europe, but the consistent empowerment of the own employees could be the future model for a successful CRM and corporate culture. Happy employees serve happy (and loyal) customers...

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

CRM 2.0 is not an IT challenge...

38852_i0_-_lost_bits_4 Our CTO, Hub Vandervoort, talks about the challenges to implement an SOA and concludes that this is also not only a matter of the right Software or Tool-Set, but a challenge to get people collaborating and communicating with each other (see SOA- Socially Oriented Architecture).

The same applies to CRM 2.0! Software will only support a new Customer Relationship Model - the more important part is the strategy and the shift in peoples heads that has to happen.

While technology was the initiator (Web 2.0) to create the demand for CRM 2.0, it will not be the solution to deal with it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's All About the Data...

This article from Bill Snyder shows that in many SOA projects the data and its structure does not get the attention that it should.
For a working 360° view of a customer - something that Amdocs is propagating for years now - many data silos must be integrated and made accessible within an SOA. It is not only about (business) processes and services, the data is as important, especially when it comes to CRM.

In a CRM 2.0 strategy, the data and its availability is crucial. Customers expect all data (and services) to be available whenever and wherever they need it. There is no real personal treatment of customers without a 360° view of their data.
How can this be achieved?
One possible solution is a shared information datamodel (SID) or an existing standard datamodel like TMFs structure. This can either be used by all SOA services or be mapped to them individually (legacy apps).

Friday, November 7, 2008

Oracle seems to get it

22008741_61203401 Anthony Lye from Oracle has a good vision of what CRM 2.0 really is about. And although CRM 2.0 is still not a tool or an installer that you can put on a server and be happy - It is important to have the right tools to engage users and be able to connect people and systems in an efficient way.

Anthony realizes the need to break through the very limited process-focused view of traditional CRM and connect to customers in a new and collaborative way. This is not only about gathering data from social networks and generating leads - its also about contributing to these networks and create value for the customers.

I specially like the fact that Oracle utilizes the OpenSocial API introduced by Google. It is always good if tools are based on standards and open source code. In this case it allows developers from the social networks or other Web 2,0 applications to provide interfaces to their platforms.

Monday, November 3, 2008

CRM 2.0 only for complex sales?

1071220_supermarket_pushcart_02 Anthony Lye from Oracle suggests that Web 2.0 features are more useful for complex sales situations rather than the High-Volume, Low-Margin business (like Amazons retail business).

But is this really the case? What about features like customer ratings and reviews for example?
These are Web 2.0 features that are more useful the more people use it (requires to pass the critical mass!).

Of course it is not possible - from a companies perspective - to stay in close contact to millions of customers worldwide in a very personal way. But doesn't that even more cry for a Customer Relationship Model that engages the customers to share their opinion and get into contact with other buyers and users?

I believe that CRM 2.0 could (and will) be used in both scenarios and deliver equal benefits on both sides of the sales spectrum. Of course the features being used will be different, but still they require to change the mind-set of employees and management... and of course a properly developed CRM 2.0 strategy...

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Economic downturn to increase the need for CRM 2.0?

With the crisis on the financial markets and the possible economic downturn in the Mid and Long-Term, I was wondering is this will also slow down the rise of CMR 2.0 or if this will even increase the need for next gen. Customer Relation Management?

Analysts still see Software as a Service (SaaS) as the next big thing on the market - which would support the fusion of traditional CRM and Web 2.0. But will companies be able to re-think their Customer Relationship Model strategy or will they prioritize this down until times get better?

I believe that the majority will see CRM 2.0 as a chance to survive the 'hard times' and come stronger out of them as aver before. Or, to see it from the other side, the economic downturn could be a chance for a business to focus on the most important parts - their customers - and get rid of some of the bad behavior that we could see in the past years of globalization, rise of technology and new markets.

Interesting times ahead of us... Will be interesting to see what the outcome will be.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Web 3.0?!

Is this really a 'major release' or shouldn't this really be Web 2.1?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Analogy to the TV revolution

Brian Halligan raised a good point - isn't the current (r)evolution of Customer Relationship Management (or Customer Relationship Model) very similar to the dramatic changes in Marketing with the introduction of the television 50 years ago?

The TV completely changed the way of marketing and 1089124_tvadvertising! Some companies were able to leverage the new tool and grow dramatically (Coca Cola, P&G, etc.) while others got stuck with their traditional way of marketing and did not grow or even went out of business.

Very similar to what the Web 2.0 does with CRM! Customers discovered how to avoid the traditional advertising - i.e. one way or push communication - overload and more and more using new ways to do their purchase decision. The social networking is playing an important role in this decision.

With a good CRM 2.0 strategy, companies can leverage this development and grow with it. Staying in the old fashioned structures might not be a good idea...

Examples how CRM 2.0 could deliver benefits

 switzerlandI recently moved from Germany to Switzerland and now going through the pain of changing my address with all the companies I am dealing with...

Why can't they connect to a service like Plaxo so that I do not need to change my address with each and everyone of them?

Agreed, there is some security issues that need to be solved and Plaxo might not be the right candidate for holding a 'master address', but this example shows that there are applications of CRM 2.0 that really deliver a value to customers. Maybe they would even chose service providers based on their degree of adoption to these kind of networks...?

For example my mobile provider or insurance company could subscribe to my profile and use OpenSocial to get updates for my address and personal details. This could trigger an email that asks me if the new data is correct (e.g. new address or martial status) and provide a single link where I can confirm. This would safe me hours of my precious time calling all these firms and sending out many many letters and emails...  What a nice dream :)

But wouldn't you immediately sign up for this? Did you ever go through this pain after a move?
Wouldn't that be a criteria when we select a product or service?

Thinking further this is valuable data that can be used for up-sell and cross-sell opportunities that would otherwise potentially fall never have been discovered. Maybe I need a new insurance when I got married or moved into a new house? Need a new price plan for my mobile when I am moving to a different country? Huge potential here...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Social CRM is not a product you can buy!

When I am reading through Oracle's Vision of Social CRM ( I keep thinking that this is really missing the "social" component at all.

What defines a CRM to be "social" ?
How can a product help you achieve this ?
What is the outcome of social CRM ?

Adding some Web 2.0 collaboration tools doesn't help without a properly defined and executed (yes, I came to the conclusion that excution is AS important than strategy :) CRM 2.0 strategy.

It is all about how we leverage the existing tools to create a unique customer experience that differentiates a company from competition. There is no CRM 2.0 installer! There is no way around activating the brain and spending some thoughts of how that really works...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

93 percent of Americans want companies to have a presence in social media...

New research from Cone LLC finds 93 percent of Americans want companies to have a presence in social media. (more)

This is an impressive number and shows the importance for a CRM 2.0 strategy. Although the study says that the demand is high, the people asked were unsure about the ways this can be achieved.

  • 43 percent say companies should use social networks to solve customer service issues;
  • 41 percent want businesses to ask for customer feedback on products and services; and
  • 37 percent believe organizations should develop new ways for customers to interact with a brand via applications and widgets.

As the "how" is not clearly defined, yet, there is a good opportunity for early adopters to utilize new Web 2.0 techniques and platforms to engage customers and get into a fruitful conversation with users and potential buyers. Being the first always helps to reach the critical mass that is so important in social networks and the Web 2.0 universe!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oracle to include social networking in their CRM offering

The solution (called Oracle Sales Prospector) does real-time recommendations based on previous buying behavior.

Not sure where the social network component will fit in there, though...

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Semantic Web

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What is the value of being able to search 124 billion web sites on cuil if I just want to have an answer to a simple question?

The Semantic Web will be the future answer to bring meaning into the fast growing information overload that the Internet delivers. It will be able to answer questions and - combined with mash-ups - show exactly the information we need rather than five thousand search results which I will never ever be able to look at.

In the context of CRM 2.0, the Semantic web will help internally to understand customers better and externally help deliver a unique experience that differentiates from competition.

..more to come...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

SOA and the Enterprise 2.0

see my post in the SOA blog:

This is relevant to CRM as it outlines the technology changes required to implement a CRM 2.0 application based on a SOA.

I find Giles statement about the next generation of users very important. They will expect all the Web 2.0 applications at their jobs - that is why this time the innovation comes from outside the enterprise, not the other way around.

This might be a proof that the customers are more and more empowered and the enterprise has to adopt in order to be successful in the future... CRM 1.0 days might be gone soon!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Human Nature

"People like doing business with people they like and trust"

This is a very true statement and seems to be written in human DNA.
In the past, many CRM solutions did not consider this simple fact at all and focused on collecting customer data and make them available in many different forms and at any place. With the right strategy, this can help build fruitful customer relations and create an environment of trust and cooperation. But a pure CRM installation is not the guarantee of success!

Sales reps appreciate a tool that delivers data of the customer but they are not keen on entering a lot of data into an application that is not helpful for them to win deals or generate leads. Social applications connected to such an application can help improve leveraging the social intelligence that improve these flaws. Additionally the Web 2.0 applications can improve the communication with the customer and build a better relationship from which both sides profit.

But again, tools or applications is only one side of the medal. It it necessary to back that up with a bullet proof and well thought through CRM 2.0 strategy. Software can only help building and maintaining relationships better and more effective, they can not replace real people talking to real people - people they trust...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

CRM 1.0 vs. CRM 2.0

  • Starts with a (ready developed) product
  • Strong Focus on SFA
  • Gathers information about the customer
  • Where is the Customer Relation?
  • Where is the value (+experience) for customers?
  • Process focused (Inside-Out view)
  • Provide content to engage consumers in a conversation
  • Collaborate on products and services
  • Listen to users and customers
  • The consumer engagement will lead to loyal customers
  • This will create a Meaningful Customer Relationship that brings value to both sides!
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Viral Marketing and CRM 2.0

Viral Marketing (did I mention that I don't really like that term?) can be a powerful marketing tool, especially if the budget is somewhat limited...


this shot can easily backfire!

Candians PCWorld has put together a list with 'viral' marketing campaigns that really did not deliver the expected result.

What about risks in CRM 2.0 using social networks?

Similar to Viral Marketing, CRM 2.0 utilizes social networks to gather information about the customer and establish a ralation - ideally making customers loyal to the brand or product.
What happens if the engagement in social networks fail or even show negative results (i.e. consumers run away or make fun of the products)?

A very important part of a CRM 2.0 strategy must be a management of the engagement in social networks that allows to intervene if thing start running out of the rudder. As high as the gains of CRM 2.0 can be, as high are the risks.
This shows the importance of a well defined CRM 2.0 strategy that does not blindly engage customers and use the nice&new Web 2.0 world, but create a concept that will bring real value to consumers and make them loyal to brand or products.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

CRM 2.0 - Vendor selection process

Here are my thoughts about vendor selection process and implementation phases - any comments highly appreciated!

Phase 1 „Daydreaming“
  • Determine Business Needs
  • What are the challenges?
  • What was the initial reason to think about a new CRM strategy?
  • Get help from an external advisor if necessary.
  • Define the ideal CRM solution
  • Outline the Hi-Level requirements
  • See the company from a customers‘ perspective

Phase 2 „Talk Turkey“
  • Come back to reality – you can not archieve everything you wish (what about ROI?)
  • Sync with existing CRM strategy and business processes – approve a project
  • Priotize the wishlist – separate the crtitical points from the nice-to-haves
  • Discuss with customers, employees and advisors
  • Identify the technology to be used (i.e. SaaS)

Phase 3 „Issue RFI, RFP“
  • Create a list of required functionality
  • Send this list to anumber of vendors (4-8)
  • Find a rating scheme and qualify the returned answeres
  • Ask the vendors to create a proposed solution
  • Asses and compare the outlined solutions
  • Find the two (or three) best fitting vendors
  • Focus on the vendor rather than the product
  • Technology must fit the strategy!

Phase 4 „Compare Vendors“
  • Does the corparate culture fit?
  • Is the vendor financial stable and is the roadmap promising and complete?
  • Is the product future proof (technology, platform), can it grow with your company?
  • Pricing model and license cost
  • Cost of implementation and customization
  • Required Hardware

Phase 5 „Proof of Concept“
  • Find a business process that covers as much technical aspects as possibe but can be implemented within a three week timeframe
  • Ask vendors to implement this business process with their product on site
  • Have IT and business people supervise the customization and administration process – get their buy-in!
  • Finish with a workshop where the vendor presents the PoC and answers questions how it was done
  • Try to estimate the efforts for the full project

Phase 6 „Implementation“
  • Keep business involved - gather feedback from future users during the implementation phase
  • Create reusable application code
  • Keep future upgrades in mind
  • Involve customers as beta-testers
  • Favor a staged approach for a ‚big bang‘

Phase 7 „Rollout“
  • Let users decide, not the contract – usability is the most critical factor...
  • Design DOES matter!
  • Provide detailed information to users (employees and customers)
  • Training
  • Collect feedback and keep improving the functionality and business processes
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

Next Best Action (NBA)

Just came across an article from Anette Mitchell (Architect of O2's NBA) and that reminds me of some requirements we came across when selling Amdocs CRM to Telco customers.

First we tried to implement a solution ourselves but soon recognized that it requires quite a bit of code and analytical CRM capabilities to suggest a product or action (could be a campaign or agent script) based on the customers history and customers that were in similar situations.

Some actions are pretty obvious and can be added 'manually' (like customers with a high probability of churn would get special churn scripts) - but for the complex decisions it requires a sophisticated analytical CRM technology that is able to find patterns in customers behavior and predict in real time what the contact might be looking for.
It must be real time as the current interaction with the customer might have massive influence on the NBA...

NBAs have the power to turn the call center from a cost center into a profit center. This has can massive influence on the customer experience but requires well trained staff and a technology generating high quality predictions. It is also crucial that such a system learns from customer decisions, e.g. do not offer same or similar products if already declined by a customer.

All this help to approach (inbound) customers only with offers that potentially generate value for them.

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Oracle pushes Social CRM Applications

Oracle introduced the new Sales Prospector on Although this is focused on SFA (and there is so much more to social CRM and CRM 2.0...) this is a good first step and shows that Oracle is listening to its customers (or at least to the analysts :)

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

[fun] ROI Charts

Sam Lawrence created some nice ROI charts :)

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Asking the right questions...

Carly Fiorina, ex HP CEO, says that good leadership requires asking the right questions:

I totally agree with that! And further it is important whom you are asking these questions... and like she says, the customer always knows that something is wrong. And even if a customer cannot exactly tell what - listening to customers is crucial to detect the need for adjustments and change. A good leader will know what to do from her/his experience even if it is not articulated correctly.

Having an outstanding leader saying this, emphasizes the need of a customer centered Corporate Strategy. This might be the essence of CRM 2.0...?

See also Christo Norden Powers book on Powerful Questions to learn how to ask the right questions - although this is more focused on a one to one environment. For a company, analytical CRM will deliver the answer (when having asked the right questions to the software :).

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Co-Creation - one step beyond customer feature proposals...

I was thinking before how you could create a community like the open source one or the flock of free plug-in and gadget developers that actively create content and share it (being proud of their creations) while still having a business model and earn money from it.

Obviously it is hard to find an example in the software arena as only few people are willing to spend money on Software in times of Linux and OpenOffice. But Paul has found a very good example of a clothing store called Fashionology LA.

Read his blog post about what the store is doing to create a unique customer experience that customers are willing to pay a premium for.

I wonder if the Apple Store (iPhone v2) will be an example of a successful implementation in the IT world. The fact that content creators are able to offer their programs for free makes me doubtful... Although there will be a good solution for the micro-payment via the mobile service-provider.

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CRM market growing at 23% in 2007

Gartner released their CRM report, stating that the CRM market was growing with 23% in 2007.
SAP leads the pack followed by Oracle (Siebel, PeopleSoft) and

Report says that (CRM) customers are more and more looking for social networking and related technologies. This will help players that actively develop into this direction (like and Oracle). Amdocs - No. 4 in the market - might suffer from this trend with a missing CRM 2.0 strategy.

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Apple's customer experience

I just read an article about Apple that was confusing me because they for sure create a fantastic product experience, but they are probably the most un-collaborative (does this word exist?!) company in this arena. Apple is actually doing everything possible to not communicate with its customers. Their policy is to keep everything product related as secret as possible. Even different departments within the company do not know what the others are doing. That avoids that somebody gets the full picture of a new product and accompanied with strict prohibitions in the employees contracts about what they are allowed to talk and to whom, it allows Apple to gain a competitive advantage that is massive (expected three years for the iPhone). When products leave the labs at apple, they are extremely stable and have only few bugs (although they are found quickly and the example of the iPod battery shows that consumers are able to strike back...).
The buzz that is created by new apple products allows Steve Jobs to leave customers in the dark during the development process without harvesting the negative feedback that everybody would expect. While Google motto is "Don't be evil", it looks like Apple's is the opposite. The leadership methods of Apple are antipodal to the open and collaborative ones that are common in most of the Hi-Tec and Software companies these days.
Interesting enough - Apple is tremendously successful with this strategy, gaining more and more market space from companies like Microsoft that recently started to open up to it's customers. Is this just an exception or will this market - which seems to be a precursor for CRM 2.0 strategies - fall back into traditional ways of leadership and marketing?

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Undergoing MyBlogLog Verification

Paul found a nice app to create a tag cloud from any text or website/blog with RSS feeds.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

CRM market still growing fast

AMR says the market for CRM software will grow with double digit rates.
This is pretty interesting given the fact that so many CRM projects still fail... Do companies realize that buying a CRM software is not sufficient to be successful?

What about the required changes to company strategy and employee behavior? According to AMR the Web 2.0 technology is mostly demanded in the SFA arena - but what about service and support? What about marketing and innovation?

Let's hope the software vendors get the basics right so that users of their platforms will finally be able to focus on the required strategic and behavioral changes towards CRM 2.0...

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Presonalized Customer Experience - Something completely new?

When I was running today on my usual track, I was thinking about the new personalized customer experience and what is so new about it. I came to the conclusion that we already had this concept in the past. It is not so new!

In the corner shops in the past, there was a truly personalized experience. The lady behind the counter knew all her customers personally and treated everybody different. She recommended products which she believed were of good quality and delivered some value to the consumer.
By sharing the experience of other buyers of the same product she could back up her own preferences. Customers met in the store and shared their experiences themselves - positive and negative ones.
The conversations were not limited to products, though. The people that met in the store chatted about their daily life and shared stories about family and friends. Sometimes interested people would spend some more thoughts about peoples problems and create solutions (could be new products or services).

With the globalization in the last decades the consumer got bombarded with new and cheap products from all over the world.
Innovative products reached millions of customers without any thought about their special needs or potential problems with the usage in different environments. No need for extensive testing or customer feedback - competition was fought on price and features.
As customers started buying in big stores without the personal support from the personnel or via the internet without any personal contact, there was no way to make problems public about products or services. Other consumers would buy the products because of the nice and shiny advertisements and producers made good money with selling bad products.
Marketing was made by analysts that gathered data, ran some algorithms on them and created products they believed had a good potential on the market. Supported by massive TV, radio and print campaigns the products were introduced to the market and produced with an efficient and cost effective SCM. No one ever spend any thoughts on products and services could be personalized and how the customer could be involved in the creation and evolution of them. And actually for quite a while there was simply no way to do this!!

But now there is way (!) and companies need to re-think their process of inventing, marketing and producing goods. The empowered customer is now able to share her/his experience with millions of other users via the internet and there are ways to create a personalized experience even for thousands or hundreds of thousand users.

So isn't CRM 2.0 a kind of 'back to the roots' thing? Weren't we as customers missing the personal component of the selling-buying process in the past years - but still want to keep the advantages of a global marketplace where companies have to compete globally on price, features and quality?

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The Customer changes... so do companies?

I know this youtube video is pretty old, but it still perfectly visualizes what happens if companies do not change and adopt the new Web 2.0 world...

But is a CRM 2.0 strategy everything it requires to make customers happy? What else does it take to make consumers loyal to a brand or product - why and when do they become advocates?

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Customer Experience

Some CRM vendors talk about Service and Support when they push the Customer Experience. But the full Experience of a product or brand is so much more than that (although service is a crucial part of it...)!

What is the Customer Experience and why is it so important?

Creating an Experience means that the consumer receives a product or service that emotionally touches her/him and leaves an impression that is positive in all areas.

The Web 2.0 technologies allow empowered customers to share their experience with thousands of other users or potential users. If the experience is negative it will seriously harm a brand - if it is positive the customer becomes an advocate and kicks of the viral marketing machine (don't like that term).

A CRM 2.0 strategy must acknowledge the power of customers and actively create an Experience that is unique and all positive. This could be achieved by engaging the customer in a real dialogue and listen carefully to what e says. Innovation has to be a central part in such a strategy as well. Innovation from both sides, internally and externally.

The consumer will only become an advocate for a brand or product if if it delivers a great value (which is not related to the price!). In general the consumer is looking for products and services that leave them with a good feeling which might be created by innovation, the price, the uniqueness or the reputation.

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CRM 2.0 Strategy Discussion

I collected my thoughts about what a CRM 2.0 Strategy will consist of.

Is this complete, anything missing here? Any feedback welcome!!

Next step is to get this structured and add some details in how this can be achieved...

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Innovation centric

A. G. Lafley suggests in his book "The Game Changer" that companies should be centered on innovation. But he admits himself, that innovation that does not bring value to customers is nonsense...

So shouldn't the business be customer centric then?

I think there are many ways for customers to influence innovation and the products that come out of it. This graphic should visualize on a high level how that could look like:

The Web 2.0 will increase the influence of customers on innovation massively. Companies that actively support this development will profit from it and gain competitive advantage while companies ignoring it and staying with the old fashioned 'isolated' innovation process might not be able to create a customer experience that makes customers loyal.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Social Graph

The Social Graph could completely change analytical CRM in the future. Brad Fitzpatrick gives a good outline what the Social Graph is and why it adds value to users.

The OpenID project and Google's Social Graph API may be delivering the right tools to implement a working social graph across various web 2.0 platforms. If the critical mass is passed, no platform will be able to not open their APIs to connect to such a Social Graph.

As soon as this happens, companies will have to include this data in their business processes to make sure...
  • They address the right people with the right product offers
  • Customers are able to recommend the company or products
  • The buying experience is unique and exceptional
  • New and promising leads will be addressed
  • Customer support is leveraging the user community (save cost)
  • Feedback is possible and heard
Additionally it might be a good idea for businesses to play an active role in communities and the social graph to increase visibility and create a personal user experience. If I add a company or a brand to my list of friends, it shows my loyalty as a customer and makes this position public to my other contacts and friends. This is basically the same thing as if I am chatting with a friend and tell him how much I love my iPhone, but it's not only one person - it's a full community (across platforms) that can see my favorite mobile phone, including the vendor itself (-> cross-sell + up-sell opportunities).

As soon as the Social Graph gets usable (barriers are high in the web 2.0 world!) it will tear down the walls between the different platforms and web 2.0 communities and dramatically widen the horizon for each user. It will allow smaller niche platforms to operate with less user numbers - as long as the member can access friends in other platforms without registering twice...

Technically the Social Graph is ready to go (maybe the Semantic Web will get reality as well some day?). Google's initiative to create a standard API will probably help to make it usable also in a CRM 2.0 context to find new leads, help create a unique customer experience, initiate viral marketing (or however you want to call that) and build a community of users that help define, build and enhance new products.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cross-Channel Integration

Image:Bonjour Browser.pngIf you - as a company - want to create a truly positive customer experience, there will be no way around the integration of all the different contact channels.
This was already a hot topic in the CRM 1.0 days (and still is) and led to terms like the "360 degree view on a customer". But having all the information available at the agents fingertips is not everything needed to create an experience.
In addition to the collection of data and making it available in the front office, the analytical side of CRM needs to take all this data into consideration as well when it comes to real time offering suggestions or campaign management. Additionally the customer wants to get the same experience independent on the channel he is using. There should be no difference between an email, a letter or a phone call to a business.
I am one of the typical "1st try an email..." type of guys. And guess what, I am getting really upset when it takes 3 weeks to answer my email but the agent on the phone can resolve the issue within 10 secs. Does it also take three weeks to answer a mail - or are they considered more important?

It looks like the processes in a CRM 2.0 environment need to change dramatically from the current ones, that seem to have strong preferences on certain channels (while ignoring some others completely).

The following questions need to be considered in a CRM 2.0 implementation:
  • What channels do I need to serve?
  • What are the costs involved (opening new channels will disburden others)?
  • How can I make sure the experience is the same across channels?
  • What channels do my customers prefer (each customer individual)?

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Treat women different?

Jackie Huba is raising an interesting point when she explains the differences of men and women when it comes to the word of mouth.

Although I agree that there are differences, I would say (as an affected person :) that most of the arguments she raises also apply to men. I would tend to say that it is a matter of the product if you personalize your CRM towards women or men. And this could lead to differences that vary from the color scheme of the website to the wording or functionality.

Interesting point, though. Need to keep this in mind - maybe there is a different CRM 2.0 strategy if the audience is mostly male or female?

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Customer Feedback

Ben McConnell did a nice post in his blog about customer feedback that doesn't really fulfill its purpose.

Besides filtering the customer feedback and suggestions, asking the right questions and leaving the customer the freedom of choice in his answers (and the channel), is crucial.

How can this be incorporated in a proper CRM 2.0 strategy? I will add a reminder in the strategy discussion...

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Internal Collaboration and Community features did a nice video of their 'ideas' product that pretty much outlines how CRM 2.0 can help optimizing the internal flow of communication and empower employees to be able to contribute to product innovation the same way customers could do...

This example also shows a good way to use the community to (pre~) filter a large amount of data (see the post about filtering). I am missing the possibility to involve the customers here... wouldn't it be a good idea to let the customers decide on the value of these ideas - they will be the ones that ultimately use the products?

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lower the barriers...

Today Google announced a tool called "Google Friend Connect" that will help include social networking features to (standard) websites.

It will leverage Google's OpenSocial to connect to various social networks and allows web designers to include social features with very little effort. This clearly shows the direction and the increasing popularity of the Web 2.0.

From a CRM 2.0 perspective, it will reduce the technical effort to include SN features on a corporate website while underlining the importance of a well thought Relationship Model to avoid damage to a brand or company's reputation.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Increasing Customer Influence

Why CRM 2.0?

Well, Ben McConnell has some good examples of the increasing influence of customers on the popularity of brands or products.

These examples show that the Web 2.0 opens new ways to share experience amongst customers and it is therefore extremely important for businesses to 'steer' this experience in order to avoid negative promotion.
What Amdocs calls the 'Intentional Customer Experience' leads into this direction, but a CRM software is not everything needed to achieve this. A proper and well defined CRM 2.0 strategy is the basis which probably requires a re-thinking within the company as well. New business processes won't help, if the corporate culture doesn't adapt as well.

These examples show very well the importance of CRM 2.0 and that it can make the difference of being successful in the new world of the Web 2.0 or being doomed to failure...

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Increasing number of Sales Channels

An important argument for a company to implement CRM 2.0 is the massively increasing number of interaction channels with its customers.


Times are gone where we (as customers) were fine with mail, phone and maybe email as contact options. While the website (self-support, online-ordering, faq, etc.) has already been recognized as an important channel, the Web 2.0 adds many more.
The next generation of customers is more likely to use social networks (Facebook, Wer-Kennt-Wen, MySpace) and blogs (or micro-blogs) as their reference and influencer towards a purchase decision. And there is much more than viral marketing to this - it requires a holistic strategy to be successful in this space.

If a company is not preceived as authentic, the effect of a marketing effort might be counterproductive!

Public Product QA

In the open source community it works very well that the Quality Assurance (QA) is done by the whole community, i.e. developers and users. Can this work for commercial products as well? And how does this fit into a CRM 2.0 strategy?

It is already very common (for products that con somehow be 'updated' after the sale) to release products that are not properly tested. The customer is used as a beta tester to find bugs that can be fixed through updates. This happens due to the time pressure on the market and has implications on the customer satisfaction and experience.

A well defined CRM 2.0 strategy can include public QA and therefore reduce costs and TTM without negative affects on the customer side.

Google is frequently testing products on stability and collects valuable feedback on the application (see

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Effective Filters

Sam Lawrence is searching for the new 'Inbox', bringing my attention to effective filters in a CRM 2.0 environment.

When a company implements a CRM 2.0 strategy and allows its customers to actively take part in the product life cycle and and development, there will be tons of feedback (if there is none, the strategy probably didn't work out too well...) that need to be handled. One of the big topics currently in the CRM world is Time To Market (TTM) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) which would both be negatively affected by this overload.

How can the amount of information be reduced but at the same time made sure that no valuable data gets lost or the customer experience is impaired?

The answer will probably be some kind of smart analytical CRM software that is able to sort, filter and route the right information to the right people in the organization.

So there is more to CRM 2.0 than implementing a platform for Web 2.0 applications. The 360° view was yesterday, now it is more important to filter than to collect. Smart suggestions (realtime recommendations) are an example that points into the right direction - give the users a guidance of what makes sense in a particular situation and what data is not important.

I will try to define the requirements for such a system in the strategy section of the site...

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

War of the Worlds...

Tomas Kohl has outlined a somewhat hostile view on the composition of CRM 2.0 :)

He is probably right that there is nothing like harmony in the interaction of these components. And as Paul Greenberg stated, VRM is a kind of opposition to CRM, which means the customer will follow nothing but his own interests in such a context.

BUT, from a company perspective, wouldn't it be possible to leverage VRM to build a CRM 2.0 strategy?

Could this be the differentiator for a business if it deals with VRM (and all the other Web 2.0 inventions) rather than fighting it (or seeing it as a threat)?

I am sure that there is a lot of tension and potential conflicts associated in this interaction, but I think the company that can deal with it the best will win. And even if the driving forces for a business are always profits (and that's how it should be), a proper CRM 2.0 strategy has to place the customer much more centric as this is the case currently.

After reading Tomas' view on things and spending more thoughts on it, I think I will need to revise my simple diagram a little. It does not reflect the reality as it should. Thanks for the feedback here!

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CRM 2.0 and Advertising

An article from a German IT Mag raised an interesting question about how advertising can connect to the Web 2.0 world.
They make a good point that classical banner ads are not working very well in social networks, as their users are not looking to buy something (like when searching the web) but find advertising on their homepage rather disturbing.

From a strategy perspective it might not be a good idea to go for banner ads in a social network - also because the content of the page might be inappropriate.

But how will social networks finance themself and how can CRM 2.0 work in this environment w/o spreading a negative mindset about a brand or company?

A possible answer is shown by services from Slide or Meebo that are actively engaging the community to spread the word. This is viral marketing at its best and delivers on both, advertising and brand identification.

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User statistics

Recent article reveals that women have (in average) more contacts than men (62 vs. 57) and the majority of users (80%) have 1-100 contacts.
19% of users have 100-1000 contacts, 0.66% have 1000-10000.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Global Map for Social Networking and CRM 2.0 Strategy Discussion

I created two pages on the Google site to collect all information about the various social networks and another one that will take any ideas of how a CRM 2.0 strategy could look like - including the problems and trade offs that are associated to them.

Find the map here and the strategy discussion here.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nike: first small steps into CRM 2.0?

Nike seems to be one of the first adopters of the CRM 2.0 concept with Nike+:

It looks like Nike does not only engage their buyers to build
communities and share their (positive) experience with the products,
they also listen to the users on the Web 2.0.

I will try to compile a list of companies adopting CRM 2.0 like concepts or at least having a similar vision in some kind to proof that CRM 2.0 really can make a difference.

Global Map for Social Networking

While signing up and testing out on different social networking platforms, I found that there is quite a difference in the user group and focus amongst them.

Although all the platforms are open to anyone in the world, most of the sites are only strong in certain regions, age groups or focus groups. How would a company choose where to engage within a CRM 2.0 strategy? What functionality is important for my customers and where are they probably sharing information (i.e. where can I reach them best)?

My idea was creating something like a global map for social networking platforms. Try to analyze which customer groups are signed up where and using which applications / functionality within the Web 2.0. Could this help corporates to define an effective CRM 2.0 strategy?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Outside-In View

One of the Amdocs Marketing messages is around the 'Outside-In Perspective', i.e. the customer view on CRM rather than the 'Inside-Out Perspective' that only considers company features and processes.

This is true on one side, but does not really cover both sides. It is not enough to listen to the customer, it is very crucial that a business can offer value and an experience to buyers that is unique on the market. This will require some leadership and customer education in a specific area.

Companies like Apple do a very good job listening to their customers, but this is not the only reason for their success. Steve Jobs is also a visionary and is able to show new ideas and uncommon products bringing two worlds together.

To make buyers to loyal customers (i.e. Apple fans) requires a real Two-Way CRM that is also able to provide an outstanding and personalized customer experience with the products and the company or brand!

So it is a nice feature of CRM suites to adapt to existing business processes, but it is also necessary to re-think these processes and make sure they allow Two-Way CRM.

CRM 2.0 = CRM + SCM + PRM + VRM ?

Reading through several comments about CRM 2.0, Paul Greenbergs Blog and Charles' emails, I started thinking if CRM 2.0 could be the sum of CRM connected with Supply Chain management (SCM), Partner Relationship Management (PRM) and Vendor Relationship Management (VRM).

Is the future of CRM just a mix of all of these playing together somehow? Or is there more to it?

Maybe CRM 2.0 is just the intersection of these?

Blue Ocean Strategy Canvas

Charles encouraged me to do a strategy canvas for CRM and here is the first draft for it.
I will probably add some more aspects during my research to highlight the important areas that are needed to make CRM 2.0 successful.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Why change?

Why should a company at all go for CRM 2.0? Does traditional CRM not deliver the same or better results or have less cost associated with it?

This is an interesting question that companies will ask themselves when it comes to implementing next generation CRM systems and processes. Not only the customers must see a value in sharing knowledge and data, but also the business must have a compelling reason to change!

Some good arguments for an upgrade to CRM 2.0 are:
  • The fast changing economy in our days
  • A different business climate compared to the 90s
  • Shorter product life cycles
  • Customer has more and more choice - products become a commodity
  • Differentiate through unique customer experience rather than price or quality
  • Loyal customers are more and more important to ensure enduring revenues
  • CRM applications got more flexible and richer in functionality

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Advisory Relationship

Charles' comment about the differences in the business - customer relationship made me think about the changes that CRM 2.0 will imply in this area:
"CRM 1.0 assumes a “transaction relationship” with the customers. Trust is not necessarily important, just ”feeds and speeds,” so to speak. Does this not imply an advisory relationship? What kind of relationship does CRM 2.0 imply? Is this just a little change or is it a qualitative shift in relationships? Is trust important? In other words, there are a lot of subtitles involved in this 1.0 to 2.0 shift. What are they?"

If I follow the idea of an active customer that is willing to provide data and information about himself and takes part in what I called a 'two way CRM', it is absolutely necessary to create a high level of trust between both parties. Otherwise the customer will not be willing to provide all that data - he will see no value in doing so.
In the past (actually this is still the standard for 95% of the market) CRM was always a one way - or advisory - relationship, meaning that the businesses tried to gather as much data as they could of their customers and made them available wherever they could. That's what they called a 360° view of the customer and the goal was providing this information with some intelligence (e.g. what product can I up/cross sell to this customer) in real time on all available channels.
Although this still desirable, it will not be enough in the future to differentiate from competition and create a unique customer experience - which will lead to loyal customers.

CRM 2.0 really requires a much stronger relationship to customers, allowing them to take an active part in decisions and get more influence. A good example is the internet community that grouped together and bought Ebbsfleet Utd., a football club that is now actively managed by the members which take part in all decisions (even the formation during a game or player changes). How loyal would you be to a product where you are involved this deep?

CRM 2.0 should really be called "Customer Relationship Model 2.0" as the term Management suggests that the business 'manages' customers, which is not the case anymore...

Friday, April 25, 2008

The 2.0 concept

I sent the draft to Dr. Charles Savage, one of the extremely inspiring professors at the FOM and he has some important questions that need to be answered in this context. One of them is around the term "2.0" and its meaning - what is it really about Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 or human culture 2.0?
The answer is not the same to everybody, but my definition is this one:
CRM 2.0 is the move from uni-directional contact management to a bi-directional, collaborative and active customer experience. This is the fusion of CRM 1.0 with technologies from the Web 2.0 arena. The consumer is evolving to a prosumer that actively takes part in the development, creation and support of products by providing data, feedback and information about himself and his experience with the offering.
From a company side, it is no longer enough to analyze customer behavior and create a marketing strategy from the analysis of this data. The differentiator will be a unique and outstanding customer experience that can only be created by actively involving the customer and keeping a continous dialogue with them. This will lead to a high value relationship and finally to true loyality to a brand or company.

This active involvement of the consumer can be achieved with Web 2.0 techniques in the various customer touch points:
  • Customer Support
    - Customer helps Customer (Forums, knowledge sharing, mentoring)
    - Intelligent customer self-service (make solutions easily available online)
    - Communities (find users with the same problem)
  • Sales Force Automation
    - Offer the right product at the right time (real time decisioning based on customer live data)
    - Flexible product offering (let the customer decide what he wants to have and when)
    - Personalize the experience (give customers the chance to provide personal data)
  • Knowledge Management
    - Let users take part in the creation and maintenance of the knowledge base
    - Provide feedback (allow easy feedback and suggestions)
  • Ordering / Provisioning
    - Consumers decide on the ordering process (if possible)
    - Flexible in time and location
  • Marketing
    - Customer feedback (listen to customers)
    - Match consumer requirements and expectations if posspible
    - Reduce Time To Market (TTM)
  • Product Creation / Bundling
    - Flexible bundling (let the customer decide)
    - Listen to the customer when creating or enhancing products
All in all, its's all about bringing the customer on board and thus leveraging their knowledge while creating retention and identification to a brand, product or company.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

First draft of proposed topic

Yesterday and today I created a first draft of a document describing the proposed topic for my masters' thesis.
Next step is to get some feedback on the document and the topic to see if it is usable for a masters' thesis (no idea what I'll do if it's no good...).

I also started with a rough project plan to get an idea when I have to do what things...
The draft outline looks like this:
1) Executive Summary
2) Introduction
3) Problem Definition
4) Objectives
5) Methodology
6) Historical Background (CRM 1.0)
7) Web 2.0
8) CRM 2.0
a. Technology
b. Business Cases
c. Potential Drawbacks
9) Conclusion
10) Holistic Approach – ITM Checklist
11) Abbreviations
12) Bibliography
13) Declaration

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Revolution or Evolution

One of the most interesting questions around CRM 2.0 - in my eyes - is if this will be a revolution or more like an evolution of CRM 1.0.
Without being able to predict the final outcome, I would prefer an 'evolution' as I think CRM 2.0 will definitely be build on all the good things from CRM 1.0 and it will leverage many pieces that proved to be valuable in the 'old world'.
It's gonna be a very exciting journey towards real CRM 2.0 and it will definitely change things and the way business is made in the future (or how companies will differentiate). But we will still see some good old stuff then that was around forever.
A good example I see is SOA, which is also both - a hype and the normal evolution of software development in an enterprise environment. There have been many concepts before SOA that delivered the same kind of functionality or value, but there is a reason why they have not been that successful and why SOA is seen as a revolution in this space.
Again, it will be an exciting jurney and I hope that I will not only be part of it, but also actively design CRM 2.0 and it's vision....

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Day 7 - Two Way CRM

Currently most of the CRM activities are initiated and driven by business rather than the customer. With CRM 2.0, this can change as the customer will play a much more active role in this relationship.
By providing data and deciding whom to provide the data, the customer actively steers the purchase decision and will speak to companies on the same level. Ideally, the relationship will be much deeper and the company is rewarded by true loyalty from the customer.
While most of the current marketing activities are based on analyst recommendations which derive their data from anonymous surveys the might - or might not - represent the consumers' demand, CRM 2.0 can help to let the customer take part in the creation and development of new products.
This will not only lead to new ideas and inventions, but also save cost and deepen customer retention.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Day 5+6 : Sharing vs. Information hiding

On my way back from Zurich yesterday, I had some thoughts about sharing and the importance of sharing knowledge and information in the Web 2.0 and therefore also with CRM 2.0.
First thing that I recognized is that I still wasn't able to get a copy of a finished masters' thesis from somebody else and was unsuccessful to find one in the internet (will probably try again later today...). This shows the current mindset in our society and the fact that nobody is keen on sharing anything - especially not knowledge - with others if there is no good reason for it.
I added this under the "Problems" branch in the mind map as I see this as a crucial factor to be successful with CRM 2.0 and reach the critical mass necessary to keep it running:
"How can we change this mindset and get users to contribute in social networks by sharing their knowledge? What incentives are there for them?"

Thinking about this, I started looking for an easy way to start sharing stuff for this thesis and came across Google's "Shared Stuff" page. Basically this is an easy way to share Links to websites that you are surfing on. You just have to add a link to the Links-toolbar and click this to share the website your are currently visiting.
Find my shared links at

I will also add this on the Blog's links (on the right).

As soon as I find an easy way to make the mind map and other documents available, I will upload them and post the link here as well. The thesis document could be shared as a Google Docs file, but I think this requires a Google account to read and edit and I am not sure if Google Docs offer all necessary formatting options for a thesis document... need to check on that.