CRM at Work

I was in touch with a partner today about CRM implementations and the volume and kinds of data that companies new to CRM are forced to handle.

All too often, CRM becomes an exercise in managing customer information, as opposed to actual relationships. Businesses become to bogged down the numbers statistics instead of actually putting their CRM systems to work.

Many CRM systems do fair job collecting and integrating customer data, and with the increasing focus on analytics, some have invested heavily in tools and techniques for analyzing the data to make it more useful and actionable.

User interfaces and CRM solutions is an old-school issue that, despite years of trial and error, still remains one of the top three issues decisively shaping the industry, both in terms of vendors and CRM initiatives. The importance of UIs can not be understated. It was in large part due to bulky UIs from the 1st generation of CRM suites developed in the 1990s that lead to the industry receiving the proverbial egg-to-the-face and poor reputation at the turn of the century.

Fortunately vendors have learned their lesson, which has resulted in a renewed focus on simple UIs, the development of what I like to call the 2nd generation of interfaces. With CRM systems it doesn’t matter what you can do with it, it’s only as good as what you’ll do to it. Apple has long understood this – they distill the essence of each application to its simplest level so it’s useful in real-world situations. This means an elegant interface with nothing extra to get in the way.

When it comes to business end-users, it’s no different. People like things that are simple and just plain work they way you’d expect them to. And that’s exactly the philosophy we’ve taken here at Sugar.

3 thoughts on “CRM at Work

  1. I agree on the UI points. I really thought you were going to comment on the direction that CRM’s seem to be going: integration with accounting, more ERP than CRM or the “over-complication” of the infrastructure. All true BTW. Maybe another time.

    Mark

  2. Yes, definitely find a CRM, or any tool, that works the way you expect it to work. The time spent integrating a new system is usually more expensive than the actual purchase price. So, first decide how, why, and what you want a CRM to do for you, then find one that fits the answers to those questions.

  3. Colin, I agree. The UI has long been a challenge. CRM started with trying to put too much on one screen, when it didn’t fit – it ran to multiple screens, tabs etc and then of course then comes application bloat. I’m also 100% behind you on “what you will do with it”. There are many good implementations of the big CRM packages, however there seems to be too many bigger monolithic implementation failures that are much better documented.

    The importance of UI and bloat in the number of applications on the desktop to me has spawned a new industry, namely enterprise mashups – where we start not with application stacks, but with the UI – asking that all important question – what do you really need to deal with this customer process?. Ideally what we really need is a UI that as simple and intuitive as the iPhone is to most others. So unless you have a Greenfield site, then there needs to be a new approach to delivering this elegance.

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