“I found three Big Problems for CRM: … (1) DATA: Effectively managing the data we collect has now become a Big Problem…. (2) KNOWLEDGE: Knowledge cannot support CRM automation…. (3) PURPOSE: We don’t know what CRM is doing” (Esteban Kolsky, “Connect,” Customer Relationship Management, April 2012, 39-39).
From the perspective of the Voice-based CRM data entry industry, these three BIG PROBLEMS FOR CRM all stem from the same two causes: (1) ignoring 90% of the qualitative customer relationship management information available, and (2) overbuilding the 10% of the quantitative or numerical information.
Let’s see how this assertion explains the Three Big Problems and suggests a direction for a solution to those seeking to improve their CRM implementation or are thinking of implementing a CRM solution..
1. DATA: “Data is the reason we implemented CRM in the first place. Whether transactional, operational, demographic, attitudinal, behavioral, and now sentimental, the core of what CRM does is collect and store data from all interactions…. Effectively managing the data we collect has now become a Big Problem.”
CRM today collects too much information of the wrong kind. The key point to remember is that the service is named “CRM” and at the beginning that stood for “Customer Relationship Management.” ONLY CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT! In the beginning of the CRM movement 20 years ago, the concern was human and dealt with the needs and concerns, the background and context of customer values and desires. The need was for ways to handle the qualitative knowledge regarding the insights, feelings, aspirations, perceptions, and interests of the customer. This information was expressed through words and sentences, through conversations, discussions, shared collaborations – highly qualitative inter-human and interactive expressions. These expressions were at the heart of ‘customer-concentric or ‘customer-centered’ selling approaches and systems.
The primary source of data, information, or knowledge about the customer relationship was the sales rep and others at the front end or cutting edge of the contact with customers and the marketplace. Tom Siebel (who pioneered Siebel Systems and the early CRM industry) worried two decades ago about the possibility of CRM failure if the sales team did not participate fully in entering current, accurate, and complete knowledge of the customer interaction. The sales team’s qualitative knowledge from the field was the key to CRM success.
Today with CRM, the focus is on IT quantitative (numerical) solutions, and EVERYTHING IN THE ENTERPRISE has become content for CRM systems. The original intent of CRM, qualitative customer relationship information, has been lost and all of the information now being included in CRM systems has overwhelmed the service. However, if we choose it to be so, CRM can return to simplify and be about this limited set of qualitative knowledge again, focus again on the sales team, and be a very powerful service in successful organizations.
2. KNOWLEDGE: “All of the details you need to know are what constitute knowledge, which should be readily available and constantly updated for automation to happen effectively. As you can imagine, not all these elements are always easily available nor are they always updated. Knowledge cannot support CRM automation.”
CRM today does too much, includes too much, is far too complex! What is it, after all, that we “need to know” for CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT? Just that simple qualitative knowledge that reveals the human essentials of the customer relationship right now – knowledge from the sales reps that is current, accurate, and complete. A very limited set of fields in the database. And where does that information come from? From the sales team speaking or reporting religiously and fully into their simple database system. THAT IS THE ONLY “KNOWLEDGE” THE ORIGINAL CRM SYSTEM WAS INTENDED TO PROVIDE AND IT WAS AND IS SUFFICIENT! When we focus exactly on the CUSP of the organization/customer relationship, at the moments where our people meet their people in business transactions that affect the relationship, then we begin to get the qualitative knowledge “we need to know.” If we define knowledge only as that related directly to simple customer relationship management, how much do we really need to know to manage it well?
When CRM became everything for everyone, all things IT and digital, it grew out of simplicity and into complexity, expanding far beyond the capability of simple CRM to handle. For many years now we have all of the systems capability needed to handle true, simple CRM qualitative knowledge very well. How can we handle something that includes EVERYTHING?
3. PURPOSE: “What job (or jobs) did you hire your CRM solution to do for you?… Most organizations I have worked with have almost never been able to answer this question before implementing CRM….Whether you are spending time, money, and resources on a system that does not allow you to have full control of your data, that does not support the automation of simple tasks, and that you, well, don’t know why you have it. Could this be true?”
CRM has lost its focus and purpose. Over the years CRM has left its roots, has been taken over by IT and numbers, computers, money, talent, complexity, and high tech imperatives and demands and has focused entirely on processing the 10% of the information easily digitized and handled by computers. Most companies today are admitting that they don’t know why they have a CRM implementation when they are still struggling to stay abreast of simple, human, qualitative interaction and information.
If you want a simple Customer Relationship Management system that handles qualitative knowledge and helps your sales team capture and enter into the system the information they are generating out in their meetings with customers, then go back 20 years to the beginning of CRM and look at those early solutions – a little, sufficient digital, a lot of talk and text and explanatory information (qualitative knowledge). Sadly, high tech has drawn all of the talent and money away from the development of “human” or qualitative solutions. A little creative and innovative improvement over time would have made CRM systems today simple, clear, and powerful in providing the organization leaders with usable customer relationship management knowledge.
They were sufficient and can be again!
If you want to improve your CRM implementation or if you are looking to implement a CRM solution, stop for a moment and think about it. Turn your back on complexity and over-built IT solutions. Go looking for RETRO solutions, like VOICE-BASED CRM DATA ENTRY and databases that can handle qualitative information. Look for the generic and effective solutions to a very straightforward and simple HUMAN need to know what is going on in the customer relationship – ‘out there on the ground’!
One humble spy with critical observed information from the battlefield is more important to the success of the General and the battle operation than the trillions of computer bytes flying back and forth among the technologies in the battlespace. One humble spy who saw something ‘out there’ and has important things to say.