No one said CRM was easy.

Michael Moaz over at Gartner recently penned an interesting article: We failed at CRM. Now let’s try Social CRM – it’s even harder.
A few quotes form his article stood out to me.

One of the woman on the panel compared a CRM program to childbirth: “I thought once a child is born, the hard part is over! Boy was I mistaken!”

Completely agree. I’ve been working in CRM since the mid 90’s, and one thing is always clear: your systems need to keep evolving. Your business changes. Technology changes. Customer demands and expectations change. Your systems need to change as well. Much of the work we’ve been doing here at Dovetail over the last 5 years is helping organizations update their CRM systems. Companies poured millions into their CRM systems early on, then left them alone for years, and they started to rot.  The original implementation team has typically moved on. The project champion has gone on to new projects. Knowledge about how the system works, or why things work they way they do is lost.

As Michael pointed out:
A degree of entropy creeps in, and unless that enervating forces is dissipated, you’re doomed.

snake_oil We’ve been doing more and more Health Checks for companies, where we come onsite, spend some time with your system and your people, and produce a report that outlines suggestions and improvements. Invariably, we find that at its core, the system is working. But it needs updating. The system has been stuck in its original implementation mode, which may have been great 10 (or more) years ago, but it hasn’t evolved. Workflows and processes have changed, but the system hasn’t kept up. We see lots of manual work. Duplicate data entry. A lack of integration between systems. A lack of reporting and analytics. All of this leaves users and management frustrated.

I often here "We’re thinking of chucking this system and starting over with something new". OK, you can do that. But beware of falling into the same trap. A long, expensive rollout of a new CRM package, only to have it start to rot shortly thereafter. It still needs ongoing love. In most instances, existing CRM systems, when given some love, can be updated to meet current and future demands. And at a lower cost than a rollout of a new implementation.

"Legacy" CRM apps can often easily be updated with new web-based front ends, eliminating classic client-server apps and issues. APIs and web services and integration platforms allow for a more seamless integration between enterprise systems – and all these social networks everyone wants to tap into. Mobile applications extend the reach of existing CRM applications to our handheld devices, allowing access from anywhere at anytime. Data archiving solutions allow old data to be purged from the system, improving system performance, and de-cluttering old, noisy data. And on and on. Once we start applying modern tools and technologies, and getting our systems back in line with current business processes, it makes it that much easier to tackle new initiatives.

But simply throwing "Social" onto the front of anything doesn’t make it so.   There are still a lot of questions and processes that need to be worked through.

From the article:
They point to the successes without really getting beneath the outer wrappings of these programs.
How are posts converted to Cases? What is the escalation process?
How is an opinion / request that is captured in Twitter or Facebook transmitted to Technical Support or Customer Service so that they know what the small Social Media team knows?
How do knowledge articles get created and vetted?

All of these Social CRM workflows should be part of your overall CRM workflow. Otherwise you’re missing a big part of the CRM story.

Social CRM is not for the weak or the undisciplined, and neither was CRM.


Image courtesy of @gapingvoid.