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Traditional Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is all about customer, prospect, and opportunity management.  Being able to store, track, and manage information about customers in a central location with the hope of ultimately moving them through the traditional, linear funnel (awareness, interest, desire and action) has been a staple for many businesses for several years.  However, the customer landscape has significantly evolved in a short period of time, and the legacy capabilities are no longer effective in serving the consumer in the digital age.  Customers are now digitally wired, extremely educated, and in the driver’s seat.  With the advent of social media just over a decade ago, consumers can now express and cascade their views in an instant to thousands of others in their network.  Consumers today expect to research, engage, purchase, and get service without really interacting with a sales rep.  They want to seamlessly jump between in-store, mobile, and online channels.  They also demand that interactions with a brand be consistent, contextual and relevant – respecting where they are in the world and their “job to be done”.  With this said, in a recent Wave report, Digital Experience Delivery Platforms, Q3 2014, Forrester states “Companies want contextual, unified delivery capabilities for customer acquisition.  Digital experience delivery capabilities help companies address challenges with providing personalized experiences across channels.  As older technology becomes outdated and less effective, primarily due to siloed delivery and data, unified delivery and data will dictate which providers will lead the pack.  Vendors that can provide these data management and unified delivery capabilities position themselves to successfully deliver business-first tools to their customers.” It is evident that traditional CRM does not have the capabilities to truly satisfy these sophisticated consumers. As a result, it is imperative for companies to go beyond CRM and have a greater focus on Customer Engagement to grow customer loyalty, wallet share, and shareholder value.  The key word here is Engagement.  Continuously learning from customer interactions to better serve these folks is paramount to surviving and thriving in this digital economy.   


Driving the business forward requires having the right people, processes, and technology in place.  The landscape described above comes with new capabilities and enhanced processes enabled through technology.  The final and arguably most important piece is ensuring your people – your workforce – have the proper training and skills to adopt and ultimately execute on the actionable intelligence being provided.  The ability to act on structured and unstructured data in real time are capabilities companies have never had in the past.  Let me share an example to demonstrate this point.  A good friend of mine is an avid runner.  In preparation for an upcoming marathon, he will most likely want to get a new pair of shoes.  Given he is a young, tech savvy individual, the expectation is having the ability to move from device to device and feel confident that if and when he walks into a physical store, the store associates will automatically recognize him (using his smartphone perhaps for identification) and be able to help him complete his purchase.  Based on his profile and real time analysis of his activity inside the store, he might also be offered a special deal on a new pair of shoes, a voucher for a discount on a Fitbit training band and a jacket because it’s getting cooler outside.  How about another example?  Now I’d be remiss if I did not bring up (American) football given the time of year.  Imagine the ability for an NFL franchise to go from hundreds of thousands of fans in their database down to a very specific demographic and social profile – call it 700 fans.  Imagine the ability to tweet an offer to those fans with an option to buy instantly. These campaigns, for example, could be run during the days leading up to the big game you are attending with your family.  How did they know you’re attending?  Well, it’s possible by having real time visibility into your purchase history (ticketing / transactional view) or visibility into unstructured data such as a tweet you made the night prior.  In the any case, this insight into action is what SAP calls “Tweet to Receipt”.  The attached photograph actually gives you a glimpse into this concept. This truly represents what is meant by Customer Engagement and going Beyond CRM.

            Being able to understand the information, execute campaigns in real time, and run what-if analyses to determine the impact are true game changers.  Yes, technology will help make this a reality, but having skilled people with the proper competencies is just as important.  Due to the fact that this new reality requires a different engagement model with customers, it’s important to have deeper collaboration between Marketing and HR.  I will ask you.  What are the prerequisites, experiences, and/or skillsets that you want your future workforce to exhibit in this space?  Are your recruiting and training programs aligned with or agile enough to align with this new reality?  Ultimately, how can you find that balance of customer touch points that are not overbearing but much more targeted and relevant?  Once achieved, one can expect improved conversion and potentially higher average transaction values, while at the same time improving overall customer satisfaction and retention rates.  Think through the above scenarios.  We are absolutely living in a world that is transforming before our very eyes.  Being able to quickly adapt to the Digital Economy and take advantage of this new reality will result in significant business benefits and competitive differentiation for your business.

To learn more about this topic and moving Beyond CRM, please visit:

Forbes:  “Beyond CRM – We Are Not in Kansas Anymore”

SAP:  Beyond CRM

Until next quarter (Q1 16′), thanks for reading.

Twitter:  @Kargman_SAP

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