“You may dispense with the pleasantries, commander. I am here to put you back on schedule” – Darth Vader

Confession: This blog is a bit of a homage to a concept first mooted by an old friend of mine and focuses on what has come to be a realization of those early thoughts, the thoughts of two, forty-something CRM professionals whose childhoods were indelibly marked by two equally ‘dark’ forces, Darth Vader being one, Thatcherism (at least in my case) being the other. I will leave the latter subject for an entirely separate blog piece.

Darth 2.pngWhen I think of Darth Vader now I tend to think of him as the poster child for “old world” CRM. What do I mean by ‘old-world’ CRM? I mean the traditional, command and control, commodity play Sales Force Automation (SFA) model that has sadly come to represent CRM for many today. The problem with that model though is that although it may support internal sales reporting and compliance needs it doesn’t really support brand differentiation. In that sense, in today’s world it is a model that is dying, and fast. Why? Because the power and control in today’s sales relationships rests with the customer.

They now “manage” the relationships they want to have with brands and companies, through the ubiquitous nature of social, mobile, and real time connectivity. This is true irrespective of market profile: Business to Business (B2B), Business to Consumer (B2C), and Business to Business to Consumer (B2B2C).

Old world CRM relies on a ‘inside-out’, blind push model to define and shape the customer experience. If you want a relationship with your customer that’s founded on a great customer experience, that’s not going to work anymore. You can’t put your customers “back on schedule,” and you can’t keep your salespeople on a schedule that’s based on an outdated buyer journey. You need to employ an intelligence-based, subliminally promoted, individual pull model (outside-in) through all customer interaction channels. Note to Darth: It is actually all about the pleasantries, Mr. Vader.

Five Fun CRM Facts

  1. The worldwide CRM market experienced 12% growth in 2012, three times the average of all other enterprise software categories. Gartner cites demand from enterprise clients for CRM systems that help acquire customers, analyze and act on customer behaviors, and increase all- channel performance.
  2. Big data inquiries are increasing in CRM, driven by the interest enterprise clients have in getting more value from all the various data sources including social network data and specific customer interactions.In 2013, it is estimated in the US alone, retail ecommerce sales will total $259 billion, a 14.8% annual increase over 2012’s $225.5 billion. The longer-term outlook is also bright, with digital sales expected to increase at a 14% (CAGR) through 2017
  3. In 2013, it is estimated in the US alone, retail ecommerce sales will total $259 billion, a 14.8% annual increase over 2012’s $225.5 billion. The longer-term outlook is also bright, with digital sales expected to increase at a 14% (CAGR) through 2017
  4. 79% of customers today spend more than half of their total shopping time researching products online.
  5. 53% of customers will abandon an in-store purchase due to negative online sentiment discovered via their mobile device.

Beyond CRM

B2C represents the biggest growth sector in the CRM market space. Yet traditional CRM is based on legacy B2B sales practices. That may be a good fit for some companies, however even the typical B2B buyer is being influenced by consumer trends. It is clear that for B2C focused requirements there is more than enough evidence to support the need and opportunity for specialized B2C tools that can lift the conversation, and take the overall customer experience to a whole new level. The future of CRM lies in a customer experience platform that puts the individual in control, but provides strong links to your organizations ability to close more transactions with them.

Think Consumer to Business – C2B

At SAP, we think true customer centricity comes from addressing the entirety of your customer’s experience with your organization. Any decision maker should be empowered to deliver game-changing customer experiences and generate predictable business growth. Everyone in your organization should be ready and able to embrace any and all of the “fun facts” cited above. Whether you are contacting a lead or collecting on an invoice, you should have the information you need to elevate the customer experience. Whether you are interacting with customers online or in-person, via chat or via social media, you should know where they’ve been and what they want—before they even know it. E-commerce should not amount to an e-xcuse to drop the ball between your customers’ different touchpoints with you. And your enterprise social intelligence should be accurate and global-reaching, giving you the ability to understand and shape the conversations that shape your brand.

Yes, customers are more empowered and connected than ever. But guess what? So are the enterprises, and the individuals that serve those customers. We’re empowered. We’re connected. We don’t need babysitting from an evil overlord. And we don’t need legacy CRM systems that do little more than keep us on schedule.

And… Find out how shopping gets sexy with hybris!

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