There is no doubt in my mind that the explosion of social media presents an amazing opportunity for every vendor in the CRM marketplace. I believe this to be the case because of what social media represents: bringing every level and generation of sales and marketing individuals together on shared platforms.
Think about it – as Facebook transitioned from a college network to a global social network – it created a use case for web-based CRM applications. The comfort level of CRM users is now much higher, and barriers to entry and adoption theoretically much lower. This presents opportunities and challenges.
One major challenge, in my opinion, is tackling the seeming paradox of robust CRM and the streamlined user experience of modern social media. Social tools like Twitter have blown up because they are fast, simple to use, and the learning curve is two seconds. I can’t name any CRM system that people can feel totally confident with using in a few minutes. Sorry, but it’s true.
In a way, the chasm between robust CRM usability and social media is a symptom of the greater disease. The technical needs and the user-driven initiatives are not always aligned. All of the CRM providers do work on this, I believe, but there is always room to improve.
So, as Twitter takes over the universe, what can we learn? Well, for one – even simpler, easier interfaces as the initial user experience. Get users used to the system and comfortable before throwing in bells and whistles. To further expand the Twitter analogy – get used to the simple yet effective Twitter web page before upgrading to all the cool features of TweetDeck. Don’t be afraid to “turn off” out of the box CRM features in order to move forward in your deployment.
If the world can find a way to effectively communicate with each other in 140 characters (and usually less with all the “RT,” @replies, and hashtags on every tweet these days), then certainly we as CRM providers can offer up even more streamlined, intuitive user experiences to drive adoption and make it easier to leverage the strong platforms and engines underneath the UI.