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?