"The Perfect CRM" - or "The Perfect Tool to manage Agile Delivery" - how much are you willing to spend for "perfection"? It turns out, you'll have to budget much more than initially intended. Read on...
The perception of perfection
What is perfect anyway? Is it what the critics tell you? Is it what the market informs is "the best" (based on sales data)? Big brand does not always mean best value. Take a CRM system - a few names will come to mind, one probably with more of you than others. Is it a good CRM system? Most likely. Does it fit into your business? That is a different question. For a CRM, or any other business application, ask the following questions:
- How does the application fit in my overall platform strategy?
- How does the application fit within my transaction processing?
- How does the application fit within the user and customer experience?
The value of the platform
The value of the platform is often underestimated - until the point where it is too late to turn. We tend to first look at a solution to a specific problem - we solve that problem without looking at the impact across the chain - create the next problem to solve - repeat the process. A platform strategy is like establishing the game and playing field, prior to selecting the players - we we use a sports analogy. It is no use having a top-scorer in the team if other team members cannot create a scoring situation. Similar with business applications - the "best of breed" premium is wasted if the integration with the rest of the process is sacrificed. Worse - you may even have less return on investment than with an application that has less features (one may consider if these features are as valuable to begin with) but better integration.
The real value of a business application is in how it plays with your other applications. How does the transaction flow from one system to the next? It is not just about built in integration (out of the box). Of course, it is nice that the customer record in CRM is replicated in your accounting package. But where information truly starts to add value, is when in the CRM account records, one can see the outstanding receivables, the current status of delivery of purchased goods, the current status of projects, and customer support tickets. Further, integration with your phone system, to automatically route and log the incoming and outgoing phone calls with your customers, integrated email conversations, email campaign responses, and even customer visits to your web real-estate are crucial pieces of the customer information puzzle.
User and customer experience
Customer experience is essential to customer loyalty. If you cannot provide a great customer experience (or at the very least, a better experience than your competitor), then customer loyalty is based on factors that are not entirely in your control (such as convenience, lack of competition, or price) - any of these factors can change - even price - to a point where you cannot follow.
User experience is closely linked with customer experience. Case in point - try calling a customer support center - how frustrating is it for both you, and the support agent, when the required information is not available at the time needed, and you need to repeat your query over and over, every time you are transferred to the next agent.
In the retail sector, many optimisations have been made to make the transaction tendering process as smooth and swift as can be, and still link the customer details for the customer 360 degree view - think scanning loyalty cards, or linking credit cards with loyalty schemes.
To conclude - a Digital Business Platform is the foundation of your strategy. The flashy features generally provide a WOW factor on the short term, but overall the negative impact of any business application that does not fit within the platform provides challenges resulting in poor user and customer experience that outweigh that WOW factor.
Aurelian Group provides a Digital Business Platform as a service - building an integrated experience to you, your employees, and your customers.