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360 view of your customer, are you kidding?

by Bill Ziska

June 4, 2010

For years, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), has touted a 360 degree of the customer as what you will gain from their solutions.  With each new release, the promise became stronger and stronger.  Consider these recent additions:

  • Add competitive information and you’ll know on who your customers depend.
  • Add social marketing and you’ll not only know your customers, but you’ll know their friends.
  • Add Web Analytics and you’ll know what their looking at and why they buy from you.
  • Add Call Center and you’ll know what they don’t like about your company
  • Add, Add, Add

 So why with all this insight are companies still failing to get the 360° view, or even 90°.  After 30 years in the consulting industry, with the last 15 dedicated to CRM, I think I have the reason.  Companies don’t have the ability to focus on a complete CRM solution, nor do they have the energy to try. 

Take the recent downturn in the economy, when you’re trying to just stay in business, it’s really tough to remember “Oh yea, I need to link my call center to the sales force so we have better insight into what our customers think”.  Recently, I conducted a CRM selection for one of my clients, when we got to the “show me your clients that are doing what we want to do” phase of the project, i.e. Client visits, we flew all around the country meeting with client s from all the major CRM vendors, and no surprise to me, we never met with a single company that had even come close to a 360 degree view of their customers. 

Many had a basic understanding of who were their customers, who were their prospects, but once it got past the basics, the real value of what CRM could do was lost.  When I asked them “Why did you first decide to implement CRM?”, almost everyone said for the desperate need of customer information and insight that would drive toward better, more sustainable relationships.  So naturally the follow up question was, “So why stop with Sales Force Automation(SFA)?”.  The answer supported my finding, “we had such a tough time getting adoption from just SFA, we didn’t have the energy or ability to gain additional funding for the next phase of the project”.  Make this work first, then we will talk about what comes next seemed to be the common response.

So where does that leave us?  For a vast majority, with partially implemented solution and nowhere near the 360 degree view of the customer CRM promised.  So what can we do about it?  That’s one of the topics I’ll explore in this Blog, and perhaps with your help, expand the possibilities, and yes even the view of our customers. 

So what's been your experience?



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