CRM’s Last Gasp: Why Service and Support is CRM’s Last Chance for Success
If I were asked for a list of things I wanted to believe in, but had to admit were pure fantasy, the top three would be Santa Claus, world peace, and the “360 degree view of the customer.” Over the years I have heard a million presentations tout the promise of CRM, including a lot of abstract concepts about improving the customer experience that simply don’t jive with most company’s CRM reality. When SSPA, TPSA and AFSMI members talk about CRM, there is usually a bit of contempt in their voice, and in most cases CRM is something IT selected–and to some degree shoved down their throats–with little or no business user input.
We all know that CRM covers the disciplines of marketing, sales and service, but a dozen years into the CRM revolution, there remain few examples of cross-enterprise CRM implementations. Sales, and SFA (sales force automation), was the first priority for many companies when it came to CRM, and this SFA focus drove success for Siebel, Salesforce.com and other SFA-centric CRM vendors. Marketing has certainly had its CRM time in the sun, with CRM vendors buying analytic platforms and data warehouses in the last 2 years to better enable demographic analysis and accurate upsell/cross-sell. But what about service?
If anyone can understand the value of the 360 degree view, it is the service and support organization, with goals and incentives largely built not around revenue and profitability, but customer satisfaction. Support has a vested interest in understanding the 360 degree view of the customer–it helps them diagnose and resolve problems much faster if they have the whole universe of the customer (products purchased, implementation dates, versions, patches downloaded, self-service attempts, service history, etc.) at their disposal.
These thoughts had been bouncing around in my head for a while, but they became top of mind after a recent conversation with Michael Tarbet, Vice President of Americas Sales for Consona CRM. We were talking about Consona’s acquisition of the SupportSoft assets (including remote support and self-healing), and how adding this technology to the Consona CRM suite, which includes full CRM capabilities from Onyx, and best-of-breed knowledgebase, search and community tools from Knova; created the industries first truly “service centric” CRM suite. In fact, in my recent Web Collaboration market overview (“Ten Distinct Modules Comprise this Popular Support Technology“), Consona CRM was one of only two vendors (the other was Alcatel-Lucent’s Genesys) to offer all ten functional modules.
With the majority of legacy CRM implementations becoming more infrastructure than applications, companies look to their existing CRM system for basic incident tracking and entitlement/service contracts. But not much else. It is exciting to think about implementing a service-centric CRM suite that includes best-of-breed tools for all areas of service and multi-channel support, including value added service tools like proactive monitoring and remote fixes. I’m pleased to see a CRM vendor put a lot of effort into improving the service side of their suites…which have gone largely unchanged since the first Web-based UIs were introduced in 2001 or so. And I’m also happy to see a CRM vendor specifically investing in tools for high tech firms, since the telco and financial services industries have received the bulk of CRM vendor attention for the last decade.
I look forward to Consona CRM’s roadmap becoming a reality as the latest acquisitions are merged into the enterprise platform. Can a service-centric CRM suite change the minds of technology buyers to invest in CRM once again? Will support take the lead and create the 360 degree view so it finally goes from fantasy to reality? My fingers are crossed.
Thanks for reading!