It occurred to me at a Salesforce Marketing Cloud event in New York last week that CRM has come full circle in a fundamental way. I was never a fan of labels like “CRM 2.0” or “Social CRM” or whatever came along, mainly because those monikers did not indicate anything that was new in doing business.
Surely you can make a case that those names describe some new features for the traditional set of apps but it’s just “what is that?” The implicit assumption was that you would know what to do with the stuff, and that’s saying a lot. Most people have no idea what to do with an innovation; Those who receive the title “early adopters”.
This is a “so what?” Because additions simply pile on features and functions, when the objective, for me, is always finding ways to do business better, smarter, faster, and with less jealousy to the customer.
This takes us back to the implicit assumption. Most of the set additions did not accomplish all of that. They may have done some of the four requirements in large numbers, but these days, if you can’t do all of them at once, you’re staying behind.
So, for example, social media added to CRM provided a better, faster, and cheaper (than email or direct mail) way to spam or annoy the customer, and I single-handedly tried that effort in C-minus. Will provide Who wants to tease?
So I think we have gone full circle. It feels like 2000, when CRM was very much upside down and hosted something new, or on-demand, CRM – long ago. The reason for my thinking is that in the last two years, we have seen a market boom with a large number of new categories of solution types – and most importantly, they work a lot together.
Taking an increasingly important position in the midst of all this is the analytics revolution. We have reached the point where we are seeing more tools than general-purpose, and exclusivity is driving significant opportunities for CRM users as well as our customers.
The introduction of usable predictive analytics, or machine learning, is helping many businesses correct the back end – making the customer less jealous. Let’s face it, if you can better guess who has a desire, need, or interest in a product or service, and if you can focus on that population, to an extent you don’t bother. Are, rather informing.
Even better, if you can resolve customers who have the highest likelihood of not wanting the message you’re sending, and who are likely to be the most irritable, you’ll avoid them all. – Those who will waste you being irritable while saving money.
This is all good, but we also need to keep in mind that being supportive – and not bothered – is defined differently in different contexts, say sales and service. Coming up with the next-best offer based on prior experience, for example, it plays differently than sales in the service.
In service, it’s easy to see you’re being helpful – in sales, you can see what you’re throwing things at the wall to see sticks. This is why analytical applications will be so important for specific jobs in the front office. This is also because I think Salesforce’s announcement of analytical apps on the Waves platform is a big thing.
Wave and its Analytic app are designed to provide analytics support to a wide variety of applications in the front office, providing insights appropriate to a particular role.
The first app for sale, is designed to do so and I hope that by Dreamforce – it’s early this year, in September – we’ll see a growing list of analytical apps that help in specific areas such as marketing and service Huh. . This is not to say that there is no analytical support already – but just wait.
Now we can identify audiences by general characteristics of need, and we can design specific programs and promotions for them.
We can custom-design those customers traveling with us. All of that, plus the fact that we can use machine learning or predictive analytics to help us identify what to do in our personal moments of truth, tells me that we have turned the corner.
We have shuffled the deck. This is a new [insert your favorite metaphor here]. We are in a new CRM era.
A note of caution though: This new era will not be like the old one which enabled many of us to work on the basis of intuition. There is great freedom in the workplace driven by analytics, but now intuition has to be driven by the information presented by analytics. It is a new formulation of people, process and machine for a new era.