The promise of CRM for the sales departments of the world has been widely chronicled…greater visibility, centralized views into customer/prospect data, etc. Customer support is the same scenario – single views into account and case history increase time to solve, and knowledge tools speed resolution times etc.
Marketing – however – is still the last bastion for domination by the general CRM concept, in my humble opinion. Don’t get me wrong, much progress has been made. Tools such as one click lead to opportunity conversion available in products like Sugar make the lead to order process simpler. And general email marketing tools simplify the execution of marketing campaigns, etc.
But we can and will do much better. While CRM systems are great at automating a lot of otherwise cumbersome processes, the next step is optimization. There are ways to get at this today – but it involves too many systems and data handoffs for my tastes. I hope to see some more work done around making this as seamless as – say – Sugar’s Cloud Connectors.
The goal – better segmentation and personalization of messaging inside your CRM system. This may or may not involved multiple channels and touch points, but definitely a lot of analytical tools. The idea is to separate profitable profiles from the following (much thanks to Ginger Conlon at her 1 to 1 Media blog for pointing out these great customer buckets named by Tim Suther, senior VP of multi-channel marketing at Acxiom):
- Leaky buckets – customers who quickly leave
- Zombies – they sign up for an account but never buy anything
- Quiet types – they never advocate for your brand
Of course, it takes a strong marriage of technology, measurement, observation, gut and common sense to really skim out the less desirable prospect buckets. And of course, you can never cut out all the noise. But as we move into a much more multi-channel, real time world – we need to market with the speed and alacrity that our prospects and customers are coming to expect.