One would be hard-pressed to find a single soul who would disagree that email has been the "killer app" of the past decade. Yet the time has come for this killer app to relegate itself to the position of a simple delivery mechanism and make way for a new generation of Smart Email driven by smart applications.
So what is Smart Email? Emails that go beyond just passing along a flat/static message, instead delivering information that is properly categorized, labeled, and ready for additional processing. Such Smart Email would provide you with categories, priorities, next steps, and actions. Case in point? Email messages -- generated by a workflow system -- that tell you not only what is done, but what is to be done next, with what priority, and perhaps by what date; all the while keeping a list of interested parties abreast of these developments.
As is often the case, transformations in the high-tech industry have far-reaching ripple effects. The birth of Smart Email, for example, has only added to CRM's prominence and value, and has given a leg up to Smart CRMs.
In the early days of CRM, most services were just a single source of Information -- and it would have been more appropriate to call those services customer contact management. Not unlike plain email, once information was gathered, it would have to be correlated with various other sources, labeled, and further categorized to provide a full picture. It was almost like looking at nature through a two-dimensional lens. In managing relationships, success comes upon those with an all-encompassing information source, with multidimensions, and in high definition.
Therefore, while managing information to any degree was once important, today, managing information in one central location with ease-of-access takes center stage. Employing a less-than-all-encompassing CRM solution would be a step backward and would produce disappointing results.
A CRM system should provide you with centralized access to at least the following:
- contact Information (whether a person or an organization);
- status with you (the relationship: lead, partner, client, reseller);
- stage of the above status (active, prospect, severed, etc.);
- any potential new opportunities with this contact;
- a history of previous opportunities and purchases;
- the next action for this contact, if any;
- any email ever sent or received regarding this contact;
- any tasks assigned internally to manage this contact;
- any events put on a calendar that may concern this contact;
- any file ever sent to, received from, or related to this contact; and
- any other contacts that are related.
As you see, a pattern emerges. You need the CRM to keep track of the contact, anything ever done for them or related to them, any other contacts that may have any influence on the relationship, and -- last but not least -- any of your own colleagues that may affect the outcome. The information should be readily available, at your fingertips, any time you wish to reference it. Even more important, however, is that the information should come to you in a proactive fashion via Smart Emails.
You need to be reminded, either via a text message to your phone, or an email, or both, of any upcoming activity. This reminder should have the appropriate labels and categories, indicating priority, stage, next action, and more -- all with a link back to the source information.
CRM solutions that don't employ Smart Email will eventually disappear, giving way to the newer, smarter CRM systems that collect information, categorize them, and notify you.
Isn't it nice that, for a change, someone else is doing some of the heavy lifting in the relationship?
About the Author
Siamak Farah is the founder and CEO of InfoStreet, a company dedicated to providing small businesses with software-as-a-service, including CRM, workflow, calendar, email, and more. For more information, visit http://www.infostreet.com.
Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors. If you would like to submit a Viewpoint for consideration, please email viewpoints@destinationCRM.com.