Every year, I take 250 to 300 calls from Forrester clients. The vast majority of these calls are from executives embroiled in the process of trying to select the right CRM technology solution to support their business strategy. From these conversations, I have distilled a set of decision criteria to help you quickly cut through the CRM tech vendor underbrush.
Ability to meet your specific business requirements. You have to know what business outcomes you are trying to achieve, and define the business capabilities that you need to support, before you seriously consider investing in a CRM software solution. Although the core capabilities of leading CRM software vendors are quite similar, the companies I hear from still place a very high importance on the solution meeting the functional and technology criteria that are specific to their needs. Can the vendor meet your use-case requirements?
Ease of use for front-line workers. My clients expect CRM software to demonstrate the capability to make people more fruitful in their work, and this is predicated on how easy the solution is to use. Good usability encourages user adoption. Is the solution UI modern and adaptable to diverse role-based requirements?
Capability to provide advanced analytic abilities. My clients place a high value on CRM vendors' ability to provide analytic tools to better understand customer behavior and make insightful customer-facing decisions using the myriad customer data collected. Analytics are the key to unlocking the value in CRM applications. Does the vendor have powerful and easy-to-use business intelligence capabilities?
Inside the BPA Group at Forrester, we conducted a little experiment. I suggested that we should collaborate on a piece about the Pega acquisition of Chordiant. What followed was a large number of email exchanges. I drew the short straw in bringing all these thoughts together into a coherent whole. I prepared a document for Forrester clients to explore the acquisition in detail (probably getting through the editing process next week some time), and this blog post is culled from that document. So while the blog post bears my name, it reflects the collective opinions of Connie Moore, Bill Band, Natalie Petouhoff, John Rymer, Clay Richardson, Craig Le Claire and James Kobielus. Of course, I have put my own interpretation on it too.
Pega definitely wants to be in the customer experience/customer service business, and they want to get there by having a very strong BPM offering. It is not that they are moving away from BPM in favor of Customer Experience – they’re just strengthening their hand in CRM (or CPM as they would call it), more forcefully making the connection. We already knew this, but the Chordiant deal just reinforced that point (see related research doc from Bill Band in 2005 !!). This is not a new direction or change in direction for Pega, it is a strong move that takes them faster in the direction they were already going.
From a product point of view, Pega are adding/strengthening their hand – Choridant’s marketing automation and predictive analytics seem to be of greatest interest. Of course, Pega also values the engineering talent that Chordiant has, and will redirect those people over time to work on integrating these capabilities into the BPM offering. They were also interested in the vertical industry and functional expertise that Chordiant had to offer.
Forrester analysts will host a Tweet Jam on March 24, 2010, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM USA ET (6 to 8 PM GMT) to answer questions from business and IT executives about the top challenges they face in orchestrating customer-facing business processes to drive top-line growth. During this interactive Jam session, Forrester analysts will share results of our latest research into the topics of: customer experience management, CRM technologies and vendor trends, social media, and business process management.
Key questions we will tackle during this Tweet Jam include:
What are the key trends you need to take into account in planning CRM initiatives in 2010?
How do you know if you are delivering a differentiated customer-experience, and does it make a difference to the bottom line?
Social CRM: The real deal, or blogger hype?
How do CRM vendor solutions stack-up, and which ones are really delivering results?
Does business process management (BPM) “lean-thinking” have a place in CRM strategies?
Drowning in (bad) customer data: What to do about it?
How to take advantage of next-generation Business Intelligence tools for deeper customer insights?
Who should lead your customer management process improvement efforts?
What are the best ways to drive user adoption of CRM technologies?
What change management strategies and skills are needed to succeed?
What are the right metrics for success?
CRM pitfalls: What are they, and are there new ones to worry about?
Although millions of people remain out of work, the economy has clearly thawed and organizations are returning to investing customer-facing business process with a vengeance. Client inquiries and advisory work on CRM topics is going through the roof here at Forrester. Our most recent forecast for global IT purchases of business software anticipates a healthy 9.7% increase in 2010, after brutal decline of 8.0% in 2009. And, Social CRM is all the rage in the blogosphere.
If you are watching the Olympics, you know that the figure skaters spend years practicing to hone their fundamental skills before trying advanced patterns. And, they never stop practicing their elementary figures. My latest report on the key trends driving CRM technology adoption spotlights flawless execution will continue to separate successful CRM initiatives from losers.
We surveyed 58 business and IT professionals to identify the best practices for getting more value from CRM technology projects. These five fundamentals were the keys to success before the economic meltdown — and they remain so today:
91% of executives say customer experiences are critical or very important to their businesses, nearly 5,000 consumers prefer better customers experiences over lower prices and better customer experiences drive higher revenue and profits,—according to Forrester Research .
Many of the case studies you've seen me write about are B2C. But in the report on ROI of Social Media, I gathered data on B2B companies too. Here's a list of B2B communities.
Many people know Intel by their catch tune, "Inside Intel." And what's inside are the most amazing microprocessors that allow us to do great things back 25 years ago people could only imagine. Key to having been an innovator is always innovating. Intel- when they first came out with a new chip-- think back to the 286 processor and then transition to the 386. They met with some resistance in getting computer manufactuers to be interested in the chip. Why would you need more computing power?
So instead of staying stuck or ditching the product, Intel brought together a multidisciplinary team of individuals to tackle the problem. The net-net is that the team realized that its the end-user who is really their customer! when they went into computer shops and talked to the customers, they asked, "Would you like to be able to have many files open at once? Would you like to be able to run graphics programs, plays games, etc...." The customers responded positively with, "Of course we would!" That drove the computer store operators to tell the computer manufacturers to get those intel chips in their computers. Ah... I love that "voice of the customer" story.
But what I love more is that Intel innovated, why? Because they listened. That's a skill most companies don't have. And with social media, Intel has put their listening on dual processor tubro charged power. They know that their ability to innovate and lead the market is based on harnessing the power, knowledge and collaboration among customers, resellers, etc.. and Intel.
Many of my clients have asked, "How should I use Twitter for customer service?" There are many applications that are adding Twitter as part of the contact center apps. But today I'd like to talk about the basics of using Twitter. I spoke with Anne Wood, the Head of Knowledge Management at Carphone Warehouse to learn about how they entered into Twitterland.
NetApp is an industry-leading provider of storage and data management solutions. It has a presence in more than 100 countries-- thousands of customers and a network of more than 2,200 partners-- and a culture of innovation, technology leadership, and customer success. The company was seeking to build higher brand awareness and deeper engagement with employees, customers, and partners and decided to deploy both customer and employee communities.
Consumer Business Group (CBG) — formerly Linksys — is a division of Cisco that offers a wide variety of consumer and small office voice over IP (VoIP) and networking solutions such as routers, switches, and storage systems under the Linksys by Cisco brand. CBG has long held a reputation for excellent technical support and has developed a number of innovative approaches to contain support costs while still offering responsive service. One key initiative was the introduction of an online customer support community.