A CRM wish list

I read this post the other day; “The 360 degree customer view is dead”. I’m glad it’s pronounced dead because it’s a terrible phrase. The more business jargon that can be removed from our vocabulary the better. Although it is a decent read, it got me thinking about business terminology and definitions and in particular the CRM market.

This week I’ve commented on several blog posts and Linked In Groups on the future of CRM. Writing makes me think and one key thought I have is that the industry is just a mass of over used terms that are designed to make those who use them sound more intelligent than they are. Now…no offense meant to Paul Greenberg (I’m sure he’s a nice chap), but here is a definition of Social CRM I picked up recently:

Social CRM is the integration of traditional operational customer facing activities including strategies, programs, systems, and technologies with emergent social channels to provide businesses with the means to communicate and engage with customers in their preferred channels for mutual benefit.

I hear you. You’re thinking 3 words; the first one begins with W and the last one beings with F.

Ok so I’ve no desire to try and define (or redefine) what CRM or Social CRM is or should be. I’ll leave that to the analysts. What I do know is that your average sales force in a B2B business is concerned with their contacts and their sales pipeline. I’d argue the sales pipeline is more important, but for this article I’m going to treat them equally. And by doing so, I’m going to create a wish list for a CRM system (call it what you will).

This is a wish list that turns CRMs inside out. It is a CRM that would be built from the outside in. It would have a heart beat. It lives with you; and follows you around. It is in effect “360 degrees”.

Here goes:

1. A CRM with hassle free, up to date contacts

I want a CRM system that knows the contact details of my contacts. I don’t want to have to enter in addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, etc. I don’t want to have to forward on an email to get all the right details. I want it up to date and fresh without me doing anything or filling in another crappy form.

2. A CRM with the right data, at the right time

I want my information to be available everywhere and I want it do be as easy to find stuff as doing a Google search. While I’m at it, I might as well dream that this information is available to me even without a phone signal or internet connection.

3. A CRM that’s part of me

I don’t want to have to download this app and that app, add an API key here and there and I also don’t want to have to remember another name and password. I want it to be part of my SMS, mobile calls, landline telephone, calendar, social media, document management, accounts and invoicing, project management tools and email. I want the system to know what I’ve been doing. I don’t want to tell it. So when I say “available everywhere” I’m not thinking the bog-standard desktop, tablet and mobile approach. I’m thinking every single thing I come in touch with in my working hours.

4. A CRM with a memory like an elephant

So now that it’s “everywhere”, I want it to remember everything because I can’t. I forget who I’ve spoken to last week nevermind this time last quarter. So I want it to remind me, prompt me, tease me, tell me what I’ve done before. And yes…while I am at it…I want it to be smarter than me, so that it gives me insights into previous deals, makes recommendations on who to call and learns as I go along.

5. A CRM that’s like an alarm clock

I want a system that is like an alarm clock. True; alarm clocks are the most annoying things on the planet, but they make you get up. I want this CRM to prompt me on what to do. Emails, SMS, reminders. I don’t want to have to set them – and I definitely don’t want my boss to be setting alerts or tasks (grrrrr) – but I would rather have these prompts than have to do the admin in setting them myself.

6. A CRM you can talk to

What I do want is less form admin. Can I talk to this new CRM system? I’m not looking for it to tell me who’s the fairest of them all, but I’d like it to understand what I say and keep a record of it – in the right place. And if it makes a mistake, I want it to learn from it. I don’t want to tag, categorise, move deals to different stages, hack at another spreadsheet.

7. A CRM that can dump

When I need data I want to export it in the form I need it in. I don’t want to export to some computing format that only MIT computer science grads can manipulate. I want to be able to choose and customise and then press the magic export button. Perhaps the system could even just email it directly to my boss and whoever else sits in those “management” meetings.

8. A CRM that can learn

Last but not least, I want the system to try to get to know me when I sign up. I’m happy to tell the system a bit more about my business and process if it means it will be more useful. And then I want it to learn. And keep learning.

So that’s the buildtracks.com 2012 CRM wish list for you. It might sound crazy, but let’s put it into perspective:

  • More than half of CRM implementations fail (source)
  • The size of the market is estimated to be around $18 billion – so the total value of failure adds up to quite a lot (source)
  • Half of CRM users use less than the half the functionality available – with usability being one of the key issues (souce)

So with the amount of money being spent in the industry (and therefore suggests demand) and with the rate of failure, isn’t it about time the industry got some innovation love? I’m not talking about just Social CRM (that’s making progress, but it’s only part of the solution). With effective CRM use closely tied to revenue growth there is a huge opportunity in the market to help businesses. There are a few tools coming on to the market (I can’t speak so much about enterprise – but I’d harbour a guess at saying they are stuck), but we are miles off getting what we need from CRM systems.

For just now, we’re working on making the sales pipeline interface easier to use – but we’ll be watching the industry closely – and reporting back!

Thanks for reading.