Your CRM: Return on Investment at the Speed of Trust

copy-of-susan_headshot4 The more I read Stephen M.R. Covey’s The Speed of Trust, the more I am convinced that a major contributor to failure of Customer Relationship Management implementations is a lack of trust within the company that invested in the CRM.

When Pequod first entered the CRM business, one of the major anxieties we frequently heard was “You mean that anyone in this company could read my eMail?  Do they have to?” The look on the speaker’s face was usually one of anxiety and fear.

eMail is  territory that many employees  still regard as personal, despite the fact that it is sent using corporate computers and corporate software.  Courts rulings in favor of the employer rather than the employee have the effect of creating anxiety, fear and serious corporate headaches among all of us who may have sent eMail  while using corporate resources.  I recently heard of an eMail policy that actually includes chastising any innocent recipient of eMail deemed inappropriate for the workplace. What happens?  Even more anxiety and fear. Not exactly an environment for trust.

All of this fear and anxiety can lead naturally to messaging outside the CRM.  Texting, Tweeting and messaging in other social networks may help one employee build one social relationships with one potential customer while creating the illusion that one’s employer cannot see those messages. However, even if these messages seem to the employee to be totally harmless, using alternative message channels contributes nothing to help others in the same company to learn appropriate, business-building strategies from each other.

In some cases, alternative messaging reflects a desire for acceptance among friends and potential customers who mostly use these messages as chat—not necessarily the messaging that would help others in the same corporate setting. In others, it’s a sometimes futile attempt to avoid being monitored by one’s boss—or one’s employees. And in still others, it’s an effort to avoid a law suit, such as that brought by an employee’s union against an employer that enforced its policy about the use of eMail inconsistently, as in Guard Publishing Co. v. National Labor Relations Board.

In any case, failure to incorporate appropriate business-related messaging as part of a CRM effort reduces the effectiveness and return on investment made in the CRM. So what is an employer to do?

Develop a company-wide culture of genuine trust in sending, receiving and recording business-related messaging in your CRM. That will help companies recapture return on investment in CRM at the speed of trust.

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The Social Networking Experts’ Marketing

copy-of-susan_headshot4 There is something truly strange in the land of Social Networking. Have you noticed the rapidly-increasing numbers of social networking experts who want to tell you all about how to make best use of social networking in your business? How to make social networking profitable? Their numbers seem to increase as our economy struggles to get back on its feet.

What’s really strange is not that these experts are suddenly coming out of the walls. Or even that a mathematical statistician friend at the U.S. Census Bureau attended a professional conference of the American Statistical Association where social networking was the focus of one of the meetings. (Evidently some rather interesting statistical conclusions are being drawn based in part on preferences one selects in FaceBook and other social networking sites. But I digress..)

What’s really strange is that these social networking experts are NOT using social networking to get my attention—and, they hope, my business. What ARE they using to get my attention? Would you believe plain old-fashioned eMail? Virtually every single piece of promotion I have received to attend this or that free  webinar has arrived in my spam-defended eMail stack. Talk about mixed messages.

So why aren’t these social networking experts using social networking to connect with me, instead of adding unto my already overflowing eMail stack? If I just spent a little more of my already overspent time in FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo or the other S/N applications, would I find myself befriending or being followed by someone who ultimately wants me to buy his or her paid seminars on social networking? Is there something about Return On Investment missing here? If I raise that issue, will I be shouted down by the Social Networkers because I am asking a suddenly social marketing incorrect question?

It beats me.

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Serendipity: Toastmasters and Managed Services

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Serendipity. Yes, this edition of the Pertinent Pequod Posts is the result of serendipity. First, it was a software engineer and fellow Toastmaster writing about the process of considering “not just the ideal or expected way to input and interface with the code but also look at how the code handles an error or an improper input so the program would not crash or cause problems.”* In other words, this software engineer PLANS AHEAD before simply wasting time writing code. It’s a best practice used not only by software engineers but also by systems integrators and successful professionals in many different fields.

Then a Pequod corporate opportunity came up to offer IT managed services to business customers. One we just could not refuse. More detail is forthcoming soon!

The basic delivery of IT managed services is fairly straightforward. It allows a non-IT business with serious investments in computer technology to get on with its own efforts without worrying about backups or cash flow unpredictability due to a sudden hardware breakdown or unplanned, software incompatibility as a result of an inappropriate upgrade. It includes an automated survey of computing assets and infrastructure, which will form a basis for planned updates. All the business has to pay attention to is an agreed-upon Service Level Agreement by your managed services provider. Staff in businesses with a Service Level Agreement for Managed Services are now completely engaged in doing and managing those tasks for which they were hired to do.

At the same time, a high quality provider of managed services makes a point of having status conversations with the customer on a regular basis. Hardware assets purchased five years ago may or may not be on their way to final failure. Hardware assets purchased five years ago may not provide the performance needed for today’s software applications. Regardless of the economy, no customer should discover these facts because a piece of hardware fails.

Similarly, no organization or company should proceed down a course without total front end analysis of what happens if Plan A (or perhaps no plan at all!) does not serve well, or starts to crash and ultimately fail. Large organization (think 225,000 members) or small business (think 50 employees), every enterprise will have greater opportunities to succeed when its focus is on its primary mission rather than on the details of the infrastructure that gets it there. Toastmasters International should have consulted with professional change management experts before it went down its current path. A businesses that thinks it cannot afford managed services really needs to reconsider its corporate mission and what infrastructure services it depends on to achieve that mission.

*Thanks, Will Hsiung, for your blog about Proposal A.

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