Last week I attended the CRM Evolution Conference in New York, which is always a good show to hear the latest trends in marketing, sales and service automation. I gave presentations on social support with B2B companies, and the impact of mobility on field service, as well as participating in a panel discussion on launching and managing successful communities. Here’s a recap of some of the most interesting conversations I had or session topics I sat in on.
I met with Jujhar Singh, General Manager, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, for an update on the service side of Dynamics, and he talked about the concept of xRM. In a nutshell, xRM means both extended customer relationships—that is, managing more than just the interactions—and using CRM processes and analytics to model and manage other relationships and interactions beyond the traditional marketing, sales and service world. Though I saw a few sessions on “Is CRM Dead?” I can tell you that CRM is very much alive, and continually evolving.
There were lots of sessions and discussions around channel management, one of the best was a session by Omer Minkara, Research Director with Aberdeen Group. OmniChannel isn’t just a new term for MultiChannel or Cross-Channel, it implies an identical customer experience regardless of the channel, and leveraging every channel (phone, email, chat, self-service, social, community) for voice of the customer analysis. With younger customers adopting newer channels, companies are increasingly under pressure to figure out a channel strategy, and invest in the infrastructure to avoid creating “channel islands” of content. While we are on the channel topic, Johan Jacobs, Principal Analyst, Digital Clarity Group, gave a great presentation on video customer service—the new “must have” channel.
Machine Learning/Predictive Analytics
This is always a fun topic, and there are some new startups trying to better automate service processes and customer interactions. A great example is StepOne, Inc., whose Contextual Care uses analytics and behavior modeling to anticipate what question a customer is going to ask, and prompt them with likely answers when they first access self-service. With all the data tech companies have on issues reported at each stage of a customer’s journey, I see this as an area worthy of investment to boost self-service success rates, and vastly improve the self-service experience.
My Power Hour session at TSW Service Transformations in Las Vegas this October is on the consolidation of knowledge management, content management, and collaboration. I heard elements of this in several sessions, and had a great conversation with Anthony Leaper, Senior Vice President and Sales GM at SAP about the importance of enabling collaboration across the enterprise. They are hearing this requirement more frequently, and are busy incorporating SAP Jam into all areas of their software applications to make collaborating with employees, partners, and customers a seamless experience.
Thanks to everyone who attended my sessions, and a special thanks to conference chairs David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com, and Esteban Kolsky, Principal & Founder of ThinkJar LLC, for inviting me to participate.
About the Author
John Ragsdale is vice president of technology and social research for TSIA. His area of expertise is in creating strategies for improving the service operations and overall customer experience by leveraging innovative technology. Ragsdale drives TSIA's highly regarded technology research agenda, delivering insightful, thought-leadership research and analysis on the most pressing business issues facing services leaders to enable them to better plan and execute their service strategies.
In 2012, Ragsdale released his first book, Lessons Unlearned, which chronicles his 25-year career inside the customer service industry. Filled with best and worst practices, insider gossip, and sometimes-shocking real-world stories, Lessons Unlearned helps support managers, company executives, and even customers improve service interactions.