Wednesday, August 22, 2007

4 Keys to CRM Success

I thought that this keynote from Malcolm Gladwell, the author of The Tipping Point and Blink, contained some interesting ideas--ideas that direct marketers can embrace and bring to our senior management as we bring CRM technologies to our organizations. Gladwell outlined four key areas to address in order to realize a successful CRM implementation. I agree with him that these four elements are key.

From the article that recaps the keynote: "In his morning keynote speech at the opening of the destinationCRM2007 Conference here today, Malcolm Gladwell described four core elements innovative leaders need to understand in order to win over the public: time, framing, connectivity and simplicity."

I'll summarize his thoughts on these 4 elements (and add my 2 cents):

1. Time: It's very important that technology is brought to market as speedily as possible. We all expect things to happen quickly. It's no longer good enough to promise a multi-month/year implementation. We need to be able to solve problems quickly and show results of the technology quickly. If we miss the boat on speed, there will be a whole new set of business issues that the original technology will not be able to address. Hence, yet another example of CRM technology failure, simply because we couldn't implement quickly enough to solve the problems that the technology was originally purchased for. Learning here: make sure that your technology investment comes with a timeframe that works within your organization. Make sure that the vendors deliver on-time (through rigorous project management). And, finally, make sure that you communicate early successes to management to prove that their investment is starting to pay off, and paying off sooner rather than later.

2. Framing: Gladwell used an example from early radio to illustrate this point. He described the first live sporting event ever broadcast (a 10-minute boxing match). Prior to this live event, radio had been used only for newscasts (which you could read in newspapers) and to broadcast music. Broadcasting a live event to the public for the first time "drove the widespread adoption of the radio."

This is an example of framing, or "putting the product or service in the best frame of mind to serve them, not you. In other words, when assessing a business endeavor, Gladwell encouraged leaders to answer the question "Why am I doing this?" with "Because it makes the customer's life easier," instead of "Because it saves me money." He explained that consumers "need to frame their experience to make sense of it," and that the most compelling viewpoint when encountering a new product is usually self-serving."

Serving up live sports on the radio served consumers at large, but ultimately benefitted radio as a new medium.

3. Connectivity: Gladwell emphasized the importance of social connections. "Unfortunately, "we don't respond to people unless we have a connection to them," Gladwell said--emphasizing precisely the importance of managing, maintaining, and nurturing relationships. People, institutions, and technologies that allow consumers to connect with their world are in "high demand," he said; in fact, that connection "fulfills a psychological need." Consequently, companies need to ask, "Am I feeding into social isolation, or combating it? Am I seen by my customers as linking and connecting them in a real way?"

If your CRM technology can facilitate connections (building, maintaining and nurturing relationships), then it's much more likely to succeed.

4. Simplicity: This one is almost a no-brainer. If the technology is too complex, it will not be used. "Gladwell appealed to the crowd that it was encumbent upon them "to create a mechanism to simplify the complexity" of their technologies, and that society as a whole needed to tackle "task persistence" in overcoming past missteps in deployments of CRM and other technologies."

If we take these four elements to heart and really think about how our CRM or other marketing technology investments are touching on all/some of these parts, success will be closer.

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