The Modern CRM

Its Not Your Mother's CRM Anymore

CRM technologies are over two decades old. Companies first used them to provide “inside-out” efficiencies;operational efficiencies for sales, marketing and customer service organizations when interacting with customers. They aggregated customer data, analyzed that data, and automated workflows to optimize customer engagement processes. Companies could easily argue  business benefits by measuring operational metrics like reducing marketing costs, increasing revenues from sales people, decreasing sale cycle times, better pipeline visibility, decreasing service resolution times and more.     

Because of this quantifiable ROI, CRM became a must-have in large organizations. This strong demand prompted CRM vendors to tackle huge swaths of business problems, and fueled ongoing innovation and consolidation in the marketplace. Today, much of CRM technology is commoditized, and leading vendors offer competitive solutions, choke-full of features and functions, including deeply verticalized solutions.

Being successful at CRM today builds upon yesterday’s internal operational efficiencies and extends the power of these solutions to better support customers through their end-to-end engagement journey to garner their satisfaction and long term loyalty – an “outside-in” perspective. Modern CRM strategies enable good customer experiences. They support customer interactions with one another over a range of social, digital and mobile channels. How? By leveraging the vast amounts of interaction and transaction data to deliver contextual experiences that add value to the customer, and preserve the value of the company brand. 

How do you modernize your CRM?

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Vendors Battle For The Heart Of The Contact Center

Organizations fail to deliver a quality of service that customers expect. Our data shows that 67% of US online consumers say they've had unsatisfactory service interactions in the past 12 months. This parallels recent data from Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Research survey. This is because companies need a variety of queuing and routing, CRM and WFO software to support end-to-end operations  - software procured from a number of different vendors. Today’s set of un-integrated components restricts contact center managers from obtaining a full, multichannel view of customer interactions, makes it difficult to configure more effective rules for contact flow, and ultimately impacts the quality of service delivered.

The last decade has seen continued consolidation and turmoil in each of the three software categories, as vendors have acquired direct competitors to fill in gaps in their offerings. More importantly, vendors have acquired companies in adjacent spaces to broaden their customer engagement management capabilities and offerings. Today, the leading vendors within each respecive category offer robust end-to-end solutions, and you have to dig deep to find feature differentiation between software solutions. This has left vendors focusing on different verticals, geographies and deployment sizes in order to grow their footprint.  In addition, some vendors have made moves into developing capabilities or making acquisitions outside of  their respective categories to increase market share. Many vendors offer a combination of 2 of the three foundational building blocks for the contact center - but no vendor has robust end-to-end offerings across all three categories.

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Surprise! Customer Service Doesn't Need To Be Delightful - Just Effective

Forrester data shows that valuing a customer's time is the most important factor in good customer service. Customers simply want an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question upon first contact, so they can get back to what they were doing before the issue arose. Here are the numbers:

  • Consumers have little tolerance for long or difficult service interactions. 55% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can't find a quick answer to their question. In addition, 77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service, up 6 points from 2012.
  • Older customers are as intolerant to friction in service interactions as the young.  Impatience is not only a characteristic of the young. Older Boomers are not tolerant to long customer service interactions. Meeting these high expectations for the older generation can pay off. US online seniors may be less likely than their younger counterparts to purchase online, but don't underestimate their online commerce activity: 71% of US online consumers ages 69 and older have made an online retail purchase in the past three months.
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What Is Customer Success Management And Why Is It Important

I attended the Gainsight Pulse conference in San Francisco on May 14 which is a unique event for customer success managers to network, learn best practices, and understand the value of this role. You could feel the energy of the 900+ conference members, fueled by the fantastic 115 speaker roster featuring luminaries like Malcolm Gladwell, venture capital firms like Battery Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, and Summit Partners, and companies like Salesforce, Marketo, LinkedIn, Zuora, Brainshark, Bazaarvoice, Evernote, Zendesk, Xactly, Box and many, many more. So, the question is what is customer success, why is it important, and why now?

Why now?

The subscription economy - where products are purchased as services - has tipped. This is because monthly operational costs are often easier to rationalize than large capital expenditures. Industry segments like media and entertainment have moved to a subscription model. Other industries like publishing, computer storage are moving in this direction. This move to a subscription based delivery model is evident in B2B software, as highlighted in Liz Herbert’s TechRadar analysis of the SaaS market. Some software categories like SFA, eLearning, human capital management are almost exclusively sold via the SaaS delivery model. Others - like collaboration, customer service software and marketing automation software – are heading that way.

What is customer success management?

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Do you have a large customer service team or a small one? Start here to choose the right vendor solution

How do you start to narrow your choices when you are looking for the right customer service solution for your group. Start by asking whether your team is large or small, and whether your needs are primarily phone based, or whether you support your customers over a variety of voice, digital and social communication channels.

 

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The Forrester Wave: Customer Service Solutions For Enterprise Organizations, Q2 2014

During the past five years, the customer service capabilities leading vendors has matured as vendors have focused on solidifying the foundational building blocks of customer support capabilities. Vendors have folded new technologies such as social capabilities, business process management, decisioning, business intelligence, and mobility into their solutions to allow organizations to offer more-personalized customer service experiences. Vendors have also focused on different buyers – those that have to support enterprise-size teams who respond to inquiries primarily over the phone channel, and those that have to support small to mid size teams  who support multichannel operations.

This maturation makes it, in a way, increasingly challenging to be confident of your technology choice. In The Forrester Wave: Customer Service Solutions For Enterprise Organizations, Q2 2014, we pinpoint the strengths of 11 leading vendors that offer solutions suitable for large and very large customer service agent teams. Here are some of our key findings:

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Forrester's Top Trends For CRM In 2014

I'm moving into covering the greater CRM space, yet still retaining a deep focus on customer service technologies. Now-retired analyst extraordinaire, William Band and I put together our top trends for CRM in 2014. These trends are all about leveraging strategies and technologies for better understanding, connecting with, serving, and delighting customers. You can access the full CRM Trends Report for 2014 here.

Trend 1: Companies Strive To Be Experience Driven. In 2014, we predict that an increasing number of  organizations will adopt a more-disciplined approach to customer experience transformation. You can advance your organization's customer experience maturity by following a four-phased path: repair, elevate, optimize, and differentiate. To help enterprises excel at CX, leverage Forrester's framework that outlines 40 essential practices across six disciplines: customer understanding, measurement, governance, strategy, design, and culture.

Trend 2: Enterprises Will Embrace Tools That Create An Outside-In Perspective. To make meaningful improvements, organizations must align their customer experience ecosystems. That requires understanding customers' deep needs, viewing interactions from the customer's perspective, and socializing customer insights - and organizations will embark on this journey in 2014.

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Forrester's Top Trends For Customer Service In 2014

In the Age Of The Customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are – customers. In an attempt to move the needle on customer service operations, in order to keep customers satisfied and loyal to your brand, these are the top trends that you should be paying attention to. You can get my full report here.

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Trend 1: Customers Demand Omnichannel Service

Customers want to use a breadth of communication channels for customer service. Across all demographics, voice is still the primary communication channel used, but is quickly followed by self-service channels, chat and email. In addition, channel usage rates are quickly changing. Customers want consistent service experiences across these channels. They also expect to be able to start an interaction in one channel and complete it in another. In 2014 and beyond, customer service professionals will work on better understanding the channel preference of their customer base, and guiding customers to the right channel based on their on the complexity and time-sensitivity of their inquiry.

Trend 2: Customer Service Will Adopt a Mobile-First Mindset

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Microsoft Acquires Parature To Better Position Against Multichannel Customer Service Vendors

On January 6, Microsoft announced their intentions to purchase Parature for a reported $100M. This event is a good thing all around. Net, net, it plugs some holes in the  MS Dynamics CRM product, and gives Parature, a 13 year old company, a viable exit strategy.

Microsoft Dynamics is a strong CRM product for customer service. Forrester considers it a leader in our most recent CRM Suites Customer Service solution wave.  Microsoft Dynamics is also doing well. At their recent analyst event, they communicated the following statistics: 12% revenue growth in FY13; Dynamics AX and CRM growing by double digits worldwide and 30% in the Americas and Asia; and CRM Online growing by 80% in FY13, with two out of every three new customers opting for cloud. Microsoft Dynamics has 359,000 customers and 5 million users, while Microsoft Dynamics CRM has 40,000 customers and 3.5 million users. Read more about this event here.

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Verint Acquires KANA And Ushers In The Next Wave Of Consolidation In The Greater Customer Service Space

Today's news of  Verint's  intent to acquire KANA ushers a new wave of consolidation in the greater customer service space. Today’s customer service technology ecosystem is complex and comprised of a great number of vendors that provide overlapping and competing capabilities. I’ve previously blogged about what these critical software components are.  In a nutshell, the core capabilities needed for customer service include:

  • Routing and queuing: providing the ability to route and queue an inquiry – whether voice, digital (ex. email, chat), or social to an agent or a group of agents
  • Agent desktop/case management: Allowing cases to be created, workflowed, and resolved.
  • Workforce management and optimization: Allowing agent interactions with customers to be monitored for quality; allowing agent scheduling, forecasting, performance management, coaching, learning etc.
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