CRM—It’s Not About The Software

This sums up a lot of conversation, blog posts, interactions, and opinions. At the end of the day…

CRM Is About Humans, Not Software

Several months ago I read an article in CRM magazine by CRM expert Barton Goldenberg. In it he said that CRM is 40% “human,” 40% process, and 20% technology.

I agree.

CRM is a business philosophy/strategy designed to improve relationships between human beings, it is not designed to collect data for data’s sake. Do not let the complexity of the software blind you to the importance of user adoption and user satisfaction.

You cannot implement a successful CRM strategy with your customers until you get buy-in from your employees. That means you need to focus at least as much attention on your adoption strategy as you do in selecting a vendor. Frankly, probably more.

via CRM—It’s Not About The Software | Customer Service Experience .

Social computing set to impact CRM – 25 Feb 2009

How are you integrating social networking/selling into your CRM initiatives?

More than half of companies are likely to establish online communities to help them with their CRM initiatives by next year, but poor management may cause many of these projects to backfire.

According to a new report from Gartner Group, The Businss Impact of Social Computing on CRM – by 2010, more than 60% of Fortune 1,000 companies will have some form of online community deployed for CRM purposes. But if too many companies buy into the hype surrounding social networking and don’t take the necessary safeguards, then this could turn into a costly failure.

“Investments should focus primarily on the customer online buying process where it can offer a direct return on investment in terms of sales, awareness and customer loyalty.”

Adam Sarner, research director, Gartner

For example, Gartner recommends that organisations apply ground rules to install self-moderation, solicit feedback to make users feel appreciated, and assign an advocate to liaise with the community and represent it to the company.

“Social applications offer a great opportunity for CRM practitioners to improve customer experience and influence the customer, particularly in an economic downturn when companies are trying to keep customers and increase wallet share,” says Adam Sarner, research director at Gartner. “Investments should focus primarily on the customer online buying process where it can offer a direct return on investment in terms of sales, awareness and customer loyalty.”

via Social computing set to impact CRM.

The Top 10 Open-Source CRM Solutions according to Inside CRM

Open-source software is not for businesses who want out-of-the-box complete applications, but it makes sense for companies that want to tailor every aspect of the CRM experience from the ground up.

CRM buyers might have very few choices were it not for open-source applications. The CRM field is dominated by huge players such as Oracle Corp. and SAP, and the open-source model is perhaps the easiest way into the CRM market for new companies. Open-source CRM projects have been proliferating; SourceForge Inc. lists 369 active open-source CRM projects. The following 10 open-source CRM solutions have risen to the top of the list.

via The Top 10 Open-Source CRM Solutions – Inside CRM .

Recession Strategies: Why it is important to invest in CRM Now

Should be a good one. I am planning on attending

Date: Thursday, April 2, 2009

Time: 2:00 PM EDT

Duration: 60 minutes

Smart companies know you can’t save your way out of a recession. That said, with the economy struggling and not expected to improve for the foreseeable, businesses need to be more frugal with their spending and put their money into areas that improve sales, better services customers and/or helps them gain operational efficiencies.

Customer relationship management (CRM) technology is one of those critical areas that companies need to continually embrace, especially during tough economic times.

Attend this Webcast to learn how CRM can:

* Increase your revenue opportunities

* Help you better understand your customer base

* Provide relevant data to your sales force

* Improve your marketing strategy

When times are tight, customers expect more for their hard-earned dollar—more value, more service and more attention! Those companies that stay current with technology improvements and invest in CRM solutions will be at a competitive advantage when the economy bounces back.


Ellis Booker, Editor, BtoB Magazine


Chris Bucholtz, Senior Editor, InsideCRM

Michael Thomas, Director of CRM and Social Media Strategy, Neighborhood America

Sign Up Here.

Guest Blogger William Band: Six Trends That Will Drive CRM Decision-Making in 2009 – Think customers: The 1to1 Blog

In light of the recent sudden and dramatic deterioration of the economic climate, what are the key developments driving CRM strategies and the adoption of enabling technologies now? I recently recorded a podcast summing-up my take on the situation, based on Forrester’s latest research. Here’s what I know: Locking-in customer loyalty through deeper engagement and differentiated experiences will continue as critical priorities. Six trends will drive CRM decision-making in 2009.

via Guest Blogger William Band: Six Trends That Will Drive CRM Decision-Making in 2009 – Think customers: The 1to1 Blog .

The Twitter Debate Continued – Is it Social CRM or Not?

Social Media Influentials Jeremiah Owyang , Brian Solis, and Paul Greenberg weighed in today on what the future might hold for Twitter.

I agree most with Paul’s viewpoint. Conversations that happen across social media (including Twitter) could all be mapped into the defined intersections within what has become traditional CRM.

At the front end; for lead generation purposes, during post sale service activities; which feed into customer service and support efforts. Some are figuring out how to include the cloud sourcing activities into product and service development. I am sure there are many other examples.

A good example is the new release by Toucan for SalesForce, reportedly enables tracking of twitter posts for contacts contained within your CRM system.

I agree, that for Twitter and other social media platforms, the greatest opportunity as it relates to Social CRM, CRM 2.0, or whatever you want to call it, is to collaborate with the traditional CRM vendors to capture, analyze, and leverage the conversations happening in the cloud to deepen insight and therefore relationships with customers, prospects, vendors, partners, competitors, etc.

Jeremiah Owyang’s Article
Brian Solis’s Article
Paul Greenberg’s Article

Your thoughts?

Looking Forward: Social CRM Explained

A great introduction to Social CRM and how it differs from traditional CRM by Brent Leary

Social CRM: Not your father’s Customer Relationship Management

Why Bother with Customer Centricity?

CRM Magazine asked their subscribers “What is the number one concern that keeps you up at night?”.

I found it interesting that none of the responses resembled anything like: “My kid is failing out of school”, or “My spouse works too much”, or “I can’t make the mortgage payment”. Oddly enough, all of the responses were CRM related. Go figure.

Nonetheless, the results were as follows:

Creating and Maintaining Customer Satisfaction: 27%
Providing a Return on Investment: 27%
Maintaining User buy-in and enthusiasm 16%
Cementing Customer Loyalty 15%
Finding the right CRM Tool 6%
Keeping up with CRM Innovation 4%
Respondants who sleep soundly 5%

Today, I’d like to focus on the number one reason that people are not sleeping at night, “Creating and Maintaining Customer Satisfaction”. We’ll talk about the other number one, ROI, in a few weeks. But, first, I’d like to take a step back and observe some findings from another study.

In a survey conducted by, it was discovered that having a Customer-Centric Strategy was the most important driver of success of any CRM implementation. In a future post, I’ll take the time to illustrate that Customer Loyalty has significant impacts on both the top and bottom lines.

So how do each of these pieces of the puzzle fit together? What is the relationship between Customer Satisfaction, Customer Loyalty, and implementing a Customer Centric Strategy?

Customer Satisfaction and Customer Loyalty are two golden keys to giving your company competitive advantage. Building and implementing a Customer-Centric Business Strategy is created with the intention of increasing both your customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty.

The first step in implementing a customer centric business strategy, (or any other initiative) is to take a snapshot of where you currently are. This makes it possible to measure your progress along the way. The two main benchmarks that can help measure the success of your initiative are:

How many of your customers are satisfied with the products and services you are providing to them?

In other words, how many of your customers are defecting and choosing your competitor’s products and services.

The second step is looking at 5 key areas in developing your customer centric strategy. I have listed a few things to consider in each area:

1. Overall Business Strategy

– What are your customer’s needs? Spend more time understanding this, as opposed to trying to get your customer to interact the way you want them to
– Focus new product development around customer feedback

Graham Hill just made a great post related to this How Harnessing Your Customers Doubles Your Innovation Success>/a>

2. Organizational Issues

– Senior management committed to leading company through organizational changes
– Sales, Customer Service, and Technical Support given incentives to work together to provide outstanding customer service
– Move majority of CRM technology selection authority from IT to “business” decision makers

3. Work Processes

– Build and modify work processes around servicing the customer better
– Work hard at increasing efficiencies, streamlining processes
– Seek to be the Low-Cost producer in your industry

4. Technology

– Consolidate all customer related data into one repository
– Integrate key front-office, back office, and web office systems to interact with each other
– Choose leading technology with capable vendors to assist in the process

5. Training and Support

– Provide your staff with excellent training
– Budget time and resources to make sure they are confident with the new system
– Adjust compensation incentives to encourage use of new systems, and transition sales focus from new customer acquisition to retention

“Being customer centric focuses your business decision-making processes on the impact that those decisions will have on your customers. The real trick is making the “right” decisions that result in a positive impact. In order to do that, the organization needs to understand who its customers are, where they are going and how can the customer’s needs be met. That type of understanding requires information, and information comes from data.” says Kevin Murtha of Greenbrier & Russel’s, in an article in the September, 2002 edition of DM Review.

It is essential for your company to be able to have the systems in place to be able to capture, analyze, and share the information about your customers so that you can be more responsive to their needs, provide them with unparalleled service, and keep them as customers for life. But it all starts with strategy.

7 ideas to generate buzz with your existing customers

Guy Kawasaki recently did a couple of interview with Emanuel Rosen, author of national bestseller, “The Anatomy of Buzz”, and the recently released “The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited: Real-life lessons in Word-of-Mouth Marketing”.

In the interview, Guy asks Emanuel for ideas for helping his online business, Alltop. Here are 7 ideas that were directed at Guy, but are really applicable for any of our businesses, especially those that have a strong online component.

Get authentic user stories. Start an initiative such as “how I use Alltop” or “why I love Alltop”. Make it clear that you are not looking for “it’s the coolest thing” but for very specific examples for how the service helps regular people. Such an initiative does a couple of things: First, it helps users articulate why they like the site. Second, it can give other users some new ideas for how they could use Alltop.

Feature a short testimonial video on the front page.The current tutorial video does a good job explaining the concept. Add another one with user testimonials who tell, in their own words, how Alltop helped them. Again, make sure the stories are specific and the benefits concrete. Ideally, every visitor could find someone like himself or herself in these videos.

Involve people through voting. Let the public vote for the top three entries in each category or for whatever makes sense. This will get the bloggers buzzing to their readers. Check out American Express’s campaign, Partners in Preservations, which used a similar idea. In that campaign, the public had to vote on which historical buildings in each city will get a grant for preservation.

Take the current users to the next level. Even among the bloggers featured on Alltop, a lot of the comments are about how cool it is that they are now on Alltop and not enough about how they benefit from using it. The more time they spend with Alltop, the more likely they are to talk about it. Perhaps a trivia game or a treasure hunt on Alltop will encourage them to explore other categories, not only the one that classifies their blog.

Provide more Good stuff. People who believe in a cause tend to be more proactive in spreading the word. Consider a special promotion that involves the categories classified on Alltop under Good. Two examples for campaigns that may give you some ideas: Toms shoes and

Listen to more buzz. In addition to listening to what people are saying online, conduct face to face, email, and phone interviews to get a sense of how much users are really buzzing about Alltop—and if they are not recommending it, why not?

Continue the dialogue with users.

To see the full article, visit OPEN Forum by American Express OPEN | The Art of Generating Buzz, Part II.

It Came from Facebook! The Social Media Marketing Challenge that Can’t be Ignored

According to Global Faces and Networked Places, an eye-opening research report just released by Nielsen BuzzMetrics, “Two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visit a social network or blogging site and the sector now accounts for almost 10% of all internet time. ‘Member Communities’ has overtaken personal Email to become the world’s fourth most popular online sector after search, portals and PC software applications.” Not only is this segment large, but use of member communities grew at twice the rate of email last year, and three times faster than the other top online activities. Among the report’s other findings:

* While the total amount of time spent online, globally, increased by 18% last year, the amount of time spent on member communities rose by 63%, and the time spent on one site—Facebook—rose an astounding 566%. Facebook is the ninth-most popular site on the web overall, and also among the “stickiest” with the highest average time per person spent on the site of the top 75 online brands.

* The largest growth in Facebook traffic came from people in the 35-49 age bracket.

* Traditional advertising plays poorly on social networks; the percentage of visitors who view advertising on social networks as an “intrusion” rose nearly a third last year to almost 40%, and the share saying they “didn’t mind” seeing relevant ads also increased. As the Nielsen report puts it, “advertising should be about participating in a relevant conversation with consumers rather than simply pushing ads on them. After all, it is social media. Advertising shouldn’t be about interrupting or invading the social network experience, it should be part of this conversation…advertising should follow the same philosophy of adding value through interaction and consultation…and adding value – such as offers, sneak previews and co-creation of content.”

via B2B Marketing Blog, Web 2.0 Social Media, Business Blogging Tools, Micromarkets and Interactive PR.