“But we have CRM!”
Every company has made substantial investments in CRM technology during the past decade. This was good andproper, since CRM is essential for optimizing interactions with customers. CRM applications enable companies to respond to customer inquiries in a timely manner, detect trends in customer behaviors, and improve the efﬁciency of service-and-support operations.CRM applications, however, do not do everything that companies need to do in order to achieve a superior customer experience. Two deﬁciencies in particular stand out:
CRM applications are not very good for aggregating all the information customer-facing professionals (CFPs) need to do their jobs exceptionally well. Instead, they are primarily designed for exploiting the information stored and managed in the CRM system. Of course, it is possible to import data from other structured databases, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, into your CRM application. The problem with this is that such integrations tend to be both functionally limited and expensive to maintain. Every time you upgrade either your CRM environment or any of the structured database sources from which your CRM is drawing data, your integration canbreak. So the more sources of data you integrate, the more you spend and the more you expose yourself to the risk of a glitch. Worse yet, CRM applications provide little or no means of effectively incorporating the rich range of unstructured data sources within and beyond the enterprise – including content management systems, documents and other content stored in Microsoft SharePoint, Lotus Notes, emails, web content and social media – into the CFPs workspace. This means that CFPs who depend exclusively on CRM are invariably cut off from much of the insight they need to better understand customers and anticipate their needs. And this approach assumes 100 percent of the information your CFPs need exists in your CRM + ERP system, which is not the case. CRM applications are not very good for searching, socializing or contextually ﬁltering large amounts of diverse structured and unstructured information. Instead, they are designed to populate pre-deﬁned screens with predeﬁned data for pre-deﬁned workﬂows. CFPs don’t actually need more information. They need the right information. So they need their desktop tools to do more than just aggregate all sources of potentially relevant information. They need it to quickly guide them to the right piece or pieces of information for a given situation or context. CRM doesn’t do this. CRM applications can’t ﬁnd all of the emails your salespeople have received from prospects explaining why they’ve chose a speciﬁc competitor’s product over yours. They can’t tell you if someone in another business unit has already done a distribution deal in Brazil that you can use as a template for yours. CRM applications can’t locate the right collateral piece from your Marketing database, the right service report from your SharePoint, or the right sales opportunity buried deep in a ﬁeld service report.