Social CRM Technology: Features, Functions, Characteristics - Customer Relationship Management

The differences don’t stop there.Even the technology and the approaches to the technology are different.

Traditional CRM technologies have always been defined by features and functions.What are the technology tools and available automation that can make a company’s operations more effective when it comes to managing customers’ interactions with the company—or, as CRM got increasingly sophisticated, optimizing the customers’ experiences with the company?

For example, here’s how the data sheet reads for Maximizer CRM 10 for Sales:

  • Features
  • Account and contact management
  • Time management
  • Task management and automation
  • Sales force automation
  • Sales forecasting
  • Marketing automation
  • Email marketing
  • Customer service management
  • Microsoft Office integration
  • Outlook and Exchange synchronization
  • Accounting integration
  • Business Intelligence
  • Workflow automation
  • Partner relationship management
  • eBusiness
  • Access options:Windows desktop, Web, mobile devices, remote synchronization

This is an entirely straightforward listing of what is generally included in the CRM 10 for Sales application—one which, incidentally, is well suited for small and the low end of medium businesses.These features are also representative of those offered by most small and medium business (SMB)–focused CRM suites.

But Maximizer CRM 10 for Sales is not a Social CRM application by any stretch of the imagination.The closest “feature” that fits a Social CRM technology profile is mobile device access.The rest is the historical and traditional CRM—“Not that there’s anything wrong with that, ”as Jerry Seinfeld says.But it isn’t enough when it comes to customers whose trust lies in their peers, and the personal interactions with those peers are the bonds that strengthen the trust.

The 360° View Isn’t Enough But why isn’t the Holy Grail of traditional CRM, the 360-degree view of the customer with a single customer record, enough to monitor the interactions and provide the insights?After all, if you could achieve that complete customer record and make it available consistently across departments, you’d have what you needed, right?

You’d think so if you heard these quotes:

When running a multichannel retail operation, the most valuable resource is having a single view of leads, prospects, and customers across different channels.(DM News, March 2007)

Nationwide Gains a “360-Degree” View of the Customer to Advance Its “On Your Side” Promise (Tech Republic White Paper)

You and everyone else in your organization want to know everything possible about your customers.You want a single view of the customer that everyone across the enterprise can use.There’s nothing new about this.Businesses have been trying to get a single view of their customers and prospects for years.(Informatica Marketing Collateral)

In fact, if you Google “single view of the customer” there are between 32, 000 and 107, 000 references to that exact phrase on any given day and with any given algorithm.

Yet, while certainly valuable, it is data—not insight, not behavior, not a substitute for judgment, not a way to engage customers.It is a state devoutly to be wished when the ecosystem is owned by the company, not the customer, because when the ecosystem is owned by the customer, the customer is carrying on important parts of the business conversation well beyond the company’s walls and out of the company’s immediate earshot.Certainly the 360-degree view is valuable because it can provide you with a customer’s transaction histories and interactions with different departments, which gives you some knowledge to begin to develop an increased understanding of your customer.But this former Holy Grail is now just a prerequisite for customer insight, not a state of grace to be achieved.

Doing More to Get Their Attention
Why is so much knowledge needed and why a great depth of insight?Why not just basic patterns of activity or a reasonable but not deep knowledge of the customer’s other interests?

Because, my future and current colleagues and friends, the competition for that customer has left the halls of similar product offerings from competitive companies.Your competition is no longer Coca-Cola vs.PepsiCo.It’s Coca-Cola vs.PepsiCo and every single message that a single customer gets in a single day.You aren’t competing for their purchase at this stage.Because of the incredible proliferation of information, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from multiple channels, you are competing for the attention of the customer.While we’re going to cover that in a later chapter, the level of personal knowledge and insight you need for a customer is of a magnitude that is affected by the 3, 000 messages that each customer gets each day—a lot of noise that they may not answer, but they also may not differentiate between you and that noise.Again, more later.

Before we take this to the deepest part of center field, let’s look at what’s getting pitched.There is a combination of components that are critical for deep insight that are not the same components you might be used to—or at least, most of them are not.

  • DataThis includes the information the company can gather through the activities of the customer.That means purchase histories, returns, visits to e-commerce websites and time spent on different pages, marketing response to campaigns, and customer service inquiries and problems, among many others.
  • ProfilesThis is the “personal” information that is now so important in gaining insights into how a customer wants to interact with the company.This could be their movie and literary interests, their hobbies, their “style” likes and dislikes, their unstructured text comments in a community or social network that is either owned by you or deals with your company’s interests, such as Yelp for a restaurant or a geographically based retailer.Profiles become essential with the growing interest in micro-targeting—the deep dive into the customers’ lives (hopefully, without being intrusive) to understand their style and selection choices for predicting future, sometimes apparently unrelated, behaviors.
  • Customer participation This is their active involvement in supporting the development of your insight into their interests, including interactions through mapping experiences and the customer’s individual interest in fostering a relationship with the company.It’s the difference between marketing presuming they know what the customer is thinking and actually asking the customer what they’re thinking and expecting.Customer mapping is one method of finding that out.

Okay, components understood.What’s the rest?

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