Probably the most important aspect of the new tools announced today is that they are based on the Lightning Design System, and so form part of the entire landscape of tools used to build Salesforce CRM applications. In earlier generations of the Salesforce platform, people often came up against what insiders used to call a ‘declarative cliff’, where they would come up against one small element that couldn’t be done via point-and-click, and then the whole process would have to be coded from scratch. Because the new tools are part of a single platform, the objects and process flows they create can be fine-tuned in Lightning App Builder, or handed over to a developer for more in-depth coding as required.
I’ve been prompted by some discussions on LinkedIn to write briefly here about CRM – or customer relationship management to give it its unabbreviated title. The idea behind CRM is that an organisation can record every interaction it has with its customers, so that anyone picking up a future call can be instantly caught up with what is going on, and analysis of the data can yield clues as to where services are breaking down and need improving (“3,000 calls this morning about missed bins? Maybe we have a problem…” – ok, not that, but you get the idea).
This sounds like an eminently sensible thing to do, only in most cases it turns out that it isn’t in practice. Firstly, over the years, getting CRM systems used beyond the contact centre (whether directly or through integration with back office software) has proved very difficult, so this complete record rarely is actually complete, thus defeating the purpose. Secondly, the supposed goal of a single record for every customer is invariably brought down by data uncleanliness, the habit of creating additional records for the same customer, and a general sprawl of records where customers don’t fit into neat holes (eg issues around services delivered to households, and those to individuals that often result in a mess of customer data).
So CRM for CRM’s sake seems like a non-starter. But in the last few years I have been involved in projects that have involved implementing CRM and CRM-like systems. How can this be justified?
For me it comes down to a fairly simple process. First identify the outcome you are trying to achieve, whether as part of an individual service delivered to customers (or residents, or users, or citizens: pick your favourite) or a corporate wide thing. Then assess what capabilities are needed to make that happen (booking, reporting, case management, assessment, payments, document management etc) and then work out which of those capabilities you already possess in a reusable way, and which you need to buy. Now, if those you need to buy can be delivered in the way you need by implementing a system that calls itself a CRM, then fine, buy and implement the CRM system. But there is no capability called ‘CRM’ and no service outcome called ‘CRM implemented’.
Hence, no CRM for CRM’s sake, but by all means buy a CRM if it delivers the capabilities you need to transform your services.
This is our first Salesforce integration, and it was made possible through the use of an API, developed by Rutland’s own tech team. At our end, all we had to do was write the code to integrate with it, and boom, two-way communication.
‘CRM’ or customer relationship management is one of those IT phrases that can put the fear of God into people, and with good reason.
There aren’t many people who have managed to avoid the organisational carnage that attempts to deploy CRM can cause. Careers have been left in ruins, consultants missing in action, businesses killed along the way.
But it really doesn’t have to be that way! In fact, using a small scale, lightweight CRM have been incredibly helpful in getting all manner of projects done.
My favourite is CapsuleCRM. It enables you to very simply keep contact records and assign various bits of information to them. It also helps you keep a database of the emails you send them, and helps you to organise your workload by attaching tasks to people.
You can also create cases, where tasks, people, notes and files can all be held together in one place. These can be used as a case management system relating to an organisation or person you are working with, or can even be used as a rudimentary but effective internal project management tool.
Finally, there is a free app that you can use on your smartphone so your contacts, notes and tasks are never far away.
Of course this is a CRM so there are some sales pipeline features in there as well. They may not be of use to you. But that’s ok – either don’t use them at all, or think up some other way that those features might be helpful to you.
With pretty much any project where you need to keep a track of people and your interactions with them, having a lightweight database like CapsuleCRM around can be super helpful. CapsuleCRM has a free tier, so you don’t even need to pay for it, or it’s just £8 per month per user if you want to unlock extra storage and so on.
I find this stuff so you don’t have to:
- Building an Open Source Laptop | MAKE
- Moving to GOV.UK – the MHRA experience so far
- How many people does it take to tame the Digital Dragon? (digital skills for all!)
- PauPress | Contact Relationship Management for WordPress.
- comms2point0 – a primer about successful online communities
- Flickr: The British Library’s Photostream – AMAZING resource
- Mobile Opportunity: Wearability is Not Enough
- Housing organisations lag behind in social media and digital engagement | Housing Network | Guardian Professional
- The paperback edition of the Social Learning Handbook 2014 is now available
- A checklist for digital inclusion – if we do these things, we’re doing digital inclusion
Just a quick thought: could local authority customer service centres be sources of content for their social media channels?
Most customer service departments in councils these days have CRMs of varying sophistication and they must be able to report on what the issues are that most people are calling about at any one time.
Perhaps this could be a great source of stuff to create content about on social media channels, whether Facebook pages or perhaps on Twitter, with links to web pages with more information.
After all, it’s by definition content that people would want, and might be a good way of channel shifting people away from the phone, if they are getting that information from elsewhere.
Anyone doing this already?
I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.
- Should the Public Sector pay for Content Management Systems? « Carl’s Notepad – [with open source] "You will still need to consider the integration aspects but open source products are far more likely to integrate (openness is key) then the big supplier products (no motivation to integrate)."
- Office 2010: the SharePoint factor – "The simple conclusion then is that to make sense of Office 2010 you need SharePoint 2010. The snag is that SharePoint is not something to roll out casually. Although it has a huge number of interesting features, it is also complex and easy to break. "
- No Overall Control – a Future State of ICT – "To really address the gap between people in ICT and people who work in the Business (people outside of ICT) you actually need to start moving the competencies that IT Professionals have into the Business."
- The Fate of the Semantic Web – "While many survey participants noted that current and emerging technologies are being leveraged toward positive web evolution in regard to linking data, there was no consensus on the technical mechanisms and human actions that might lead to the next wave of improvements – nor how extensive the changes might be."
- tecosystems » I Love WordPress But… – "the reasons we self-host our WordPress instances are being eliminated at an accelerating rate"
- Meatball Wiki – "Meatball is a community of active practitioners striving to teach each other how to organize people using online tools."
- Amazon Pursues The Feds and the Potential Billions in Cloud Computing Services – ReadWriteCloud – "Amazon is quietly pursuing the multi-billion dollar federal cloud computing market, intensifying an already fast accelerating sales and marketing effort by Google, Microsoft and a host of others."
- What’s Wrong With CSS – "Most of all, what I've learned from this exercise in site theming is that CSS is kind of painful. I fully support CSS as a (mostly) functional user interface Model-View-Controller. But even if you have extreme HTML hygiene and Austrian levels of discipline, CSS has some serious limitations in practice."
- WordPress-to-lead for Salesforce CRM – "People can enter a contact form on your site, and the lead goes straight into Salesforce CRM: no more copy pasting lead info, no more missing leads: each and every one of them is in Salesforce.com for you to follow up."
- A Collection of 50+ Enterprise 2.0 Case Studies and Examples – Nice resource. Some great examples in here.
- Headshift Projects: Projects by Sector – Nice collection of social software case studies.
You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.
An interesting development is the way social (in other words, anything ‘2.0’) technology is influencing traditional corporate IT. Despite not having an IT background myself, I find this stuff fascinating.
CRM (Customer relationship management) systems are no different, and an awful lot of talking, writing and developing is going on around the idea of ‘social CRM’.
The Altimeter Group have published a report including several case studies about social CRM, which is rather a good, thought-provoking read. Jeremiah Owyang, in his blog post announcing the report, says:
We know that customers are using these social technologies to share their voices, and companies are having a very difficult time to keep up.
I think the same could probably be said of citizens and governments.
From the report’s exeutive summary:
Social CRM does not replace existing CRM efforts – instead it adds more value. In fact, Social CRM augments social networking to serve as a new channel within existing end-to-end CRM processes and investments. Social CRM enhances the relationship aspect of CRM and builds on improving the relationships with more meaningful interactions. As the ‘Godfather of CRM’, Paul Greenberg notes, “We’ve moved from the transaction to the interaction with customers, though we haven’t eliminated the transaction – or the data associated with it… Social CRM focuses on engaging the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It’s (i.e. Social CRM is) the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”
The report is embedded below. If you can’t see it for whatever reason, you can download it here: Social CRM report from Altimeter.
I have been looking for a cheap, quick to implement and eay to use CRM (customer relationship management) system to use while a long term solution is identified. This led me to have a play with Zoho’s offering, which is a real gem. Not only is it pretty fully featured, but there is also the ability to customise fields, and add your own. This is invaluable as the service is pretty heavily sales-focused.
Add to this that the system is free for the first 3 users, and only $12 (about £6) a month for any additional users, it’s a real bargain.
Another option within this space is 37 Signals’ Highrise, which isn’t as fully featured as the Zoho effort.
There are downsides of course – I’m not sure, for example, what the data protection issues are for holding large amounts of other people’s personal data online are, especially for a public body. But in terms of features, ease of use, customisability and price, this is a real winner.