Wednesday, May 23, 2007

CRM - enlarging the circle

Most definitions of customer relationship management are either indecipherable or self-referential:

The infrastructure that enables the delineation of and increase in customer value, and the correct means by which to motivate valuable customers to remain loyal - indeed, to buy again.
- The CRM Handbook
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a broad term that covers concepts used by organizations to manage their relationships with customers, including collecting, storing and analyzing customer information.
- Wikipedia
I personally like this simple one:
A 360° view of your customer.
Traditionally CRM hasn't been particularly collaborative. Many company websites provide self-service functionality and perhaps some message boards, but much of the time this functionality appears to be providedin order to keep customers from calling the help line.

I think that Dell may have just changed the rules of the game with the introduction of` their IdeaStorm website. I think that Dell may have added a few degrees to that 360° view...

Working With Sales

I have been taking a break from my typical Technical Architect design-related duties the past couple of weeks and have been working with the sales team on a deal for a large media company. It has been interesting to see the sales guys in action since I usually don't get involved in a project until after the sale has been completed.

The sales/consulting dichotomy is particularly interesting. The sales guys deal with much higher-level requirements than we do in consulting. As a result, the solutions that sales pitches often differ significantly from the solutions that consulting actually implements. I think it would be an interesting experiment to have some of our sales engineers actually work on an implementation that they have sold. In addition to providing a feedback loop to the sales process, such an experience would have the added benefit of lending our sales engineers additional legitimacy. Statements such as, "I just implemented Feature X at Company Y last month and here's how we did it" have incredible power with customers.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to wear a different hat for a couple of weeks and it looks like we are going to get the order!