Saturday, March 28, 2009

Do we still need Operational CRM ?


According to Gartner “the ratio of operational CRM, analytical CRM and social CRM in packaged applications will shift from 90:9:1 in 2009 to 70:20:10 by the year 2020”. This means there would still be a strong focus on operational CRM and the so called ‘social CRM’ part will only account for 10 percent of CRM suites in 2020.

One one hand I have to agree that operational CRM will still be an important part when it comes to CRM software – even in more than ten years from now. On the other hand I strongly believe that the way companies will execute a CRM 2.0 strategy will dramatically change and shift more to the ‘social CRM’ part than Gartner predicts.

My vision is a software suite that comprises not only traditional CRM tools such as a call center frontend and a sales force automation application, but also all the enterprise 2.0 features such as

  • wiki-webs
  • forums
  • instant messaging
  • knowledge management tools
  • intranet search (across all platforms)
  • social networking applications (linked to external/public platforms)
  • web-conferencing
  • video-conferencing
  • Document collaboration / store

This would allow to effectively execute a CRM 2.0 strategy and reduce the operational part to a minimum as customers can be invited to use these tools (some thoughts need to be spend on security here…) and actively contribute rather than getting stuck in a fixed sales or support process flow.

Currently i do not see any CRM suite getting close to this vision. might get there soon, but their problem is that the perception on the marketplace is still as a provider of sales force automation – the curse of the brand – and that the networks need to get (much) faster to allow the SaaS model (I do not see them doing Cloud Computing, yet) to deliver an acceptable experience with all these tools. Implementing the full set currently requires a best of breed approach including tools like Jive SBS, Google, SharePoint, WebEx and many more…

Monday, March 23, 2009

Enterprise_2.0_install.exe ?

While reading through Dion Hinchcliffes article “Sharepoint and Enterprise 2.0: The good, the bad, and the ugly”, I keep mapping his experience to what I am currently going through.

We are currently trying to establish a collaboration environment in our PreSales organization in EMEA and was checking out Sharepoint last week. First bumper: it requires a Microsoft Internet Explorer! What do my colleagues with their MacBooks do now? After this rather disappointing experience I found the integration into Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint pretty convenient. But again, what if your focus is not the Microsoft Office suite (looking again at all the MacOS users…) or you need to share office documents across the Microsoft boundary to OpenOffice?

I actually think that we will use Sharepoint only for collaborating on Office documents in bigger projects and only as long as there is no alternative that is more flexible. My Company is currently upgrading Jive ClearSpace (now SBS?) to the latest version and we will probably use this platform as a main target for collaboration and knowledge sharing. But still this will be just a tool that only helps us doing our work better – nothing less but also nothing more.

image This example shows very well that there is nothing than Enterprise 2.0 out of the box. It can only be a part of a larger CRM 2.0 strategy and has to be extended outside the corporate firewall to be effective – or would you be happy to enter your personal data again for the internal social network after having this information available on LinkedIn and XING already?? What if your customers have answers to problems and are willing to share this knowledge?

The secret is not copying the successful Web 2.0 platforms inside the company, but making use of the reference application secure enough to utilize the original instead of (a) copy… At least our new Progress Communities (going live end of the week) will share internal AND external data on the same platform. This means customers can actively take part and influence products and their development. Authentication will separate employees and customers if needed (and only if needed!). Now I would like to see my favorite social networks being integrated into Jive (and then twitter, then IM, etc…).

Welcome to the new world!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What is a “Conversation” ?

image When it comes to Social CRM or CRM 2.0, we often talk about establishing a conversation with customers. I think we all agree that pushing marketing data to a (static) Corporate Website or waiting for customers to call in when they have problems with the products is far away from having a conversation with them. But how can we define and establish such a conversation?

Creating a group on XING / LinkedIn, signing up as a corporation to Facebook or having an ‘official’ MySpace page does not automatically create efficient conversations with customers or prospects.


First step to get into a meaningful conversation with customers is a tough one, as it requires a company to share information that might normally be treated as confidential. This insight and the possibility to allow feedback from customers and prospects (using Web 2.0 tools) is the starting point of a real two-way conversation.

Of course the feedback has to be read and analyzed by someone in order to answer and get further feedback. This leads to a dialogue (and true collaboration) that allows to take action to improve a product or create new products and services.
To close the loop, the information about the new or improved products have to be shared again to allow new feedback and so on…

The Enterprise 2.0 paradigm can help creating the mindset within the corporation and will allow to create a relationship with customers that is worth being called so!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Call Center –> Contact Center –> Enterprise 2.0


While in the 90s Customer Support predominantly happened on the phone, with the rise of eCommerce new channels were added and the “Call Center” was renamed to “Contact Center”. Unfortunately some of the additional channels (other than Email) like online chat or instant messaging (IM) did not get very popular due to technical limitations in the pre-Web 2.0 era and the missing experience of customers with this kind of communication.

In the current economic climate the agent costs are being reduced by the use of tools like knowledge management or customer self service. RightNow is a CRM tool focusing on this area and  showing some popularity when the focus is short- and mid-term savings (without losing customer satisfaction).

With the rise of Web 2.0, there are additional channels that need to be supported like blogs, micro-blogs, forums, wikis, social networks, SEO, etc. Within a CRM 2.0 strategy, the increased transparency and the concept of an Enterprise 2.0 helps reducing the costs even further by allowing direct contact into the company (even right to the experts) and establishing conversations that not only reduce the need for specialized support agent, but also help building the self service capabilities and knowledge management repository. is recently growing the number of partners to leverage these new channels for its new customer support strategy.

In addition to the savings, the conversations help analyzing the customer requirements and aligning the product development with the customer needs. Involving customers also helps creating advocates - opening additional (viral~) marketing channels.

It has to be kept in mind, though, that these new channels are mostly targeted towards a tech-savvy and younger audience that is familiar with the new technologies. It would be a bad idea to completely shut down telephone support or tele-sales, even if the target group is the generation Y and techies.