What Users Want

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There's no denying that CRM systems today are robust. They do just about everything but close the sale for you. So what's really left to add? CRM magazine interviewed more than three dozen managers and line-of-business CRM users to see what features could make end users' lives a little easier. It turns out that these users want better functionality, not more bells and whistles. "It used to be all about 'the more features the better'--the Swiss Army knife," says Allen Nance, president of CRM consultancy Mansell Group. "Now people don't want a Swiss Army knife, they just want a single blade." And that blade needs to cut through the silos of information to create a single instance of truth and a holistic view of the customer. "The limitations are not in the tool," says Drew Arnold, director of enterprise sales for mobile-software provider Intellisync. "They're in our application of the tool." So how can CRM leaders help improve the application of CRM systems and strategies? Users sound off with some suggestions: Put the Pieces Together "What we're looking for is the seamless integration in look and feel and format with other systems in the application portfolio." --Martin Howard, CIO, Patient Care, a healthcare services firm "The biggest challenge in CRM today is a true aggregation of data, starting with everything from the point-of-sale [onward]. We want to get to that nirvana of CRM where every system is synchronized in a real-time fashion, so no one piece of information is outdated from another.... Data is the foundation of everything." --Vince Vachio, director of e-business, Newell Rubbermaid "I've been very surprised at the complexity [of] and the lack of integration between the major tools that are out there. We have marketing groups that are creating materials that they think are valuable, but there's very little standardization in terms of what the sales force actually delivers. There's no feedback mechanism that allows the sales folks to say what's really valuable and what didn't work. You end up with a bunch of people doing what they [each] think is useful--and [they] keep creating bad material." --Patrick Guay, vice president of marketing and product management, netForensics "A really nice addition would be a seamless connection between the phone system and the CRM application. If the system could post information before the call reached the CSR, we could dive right into solving the problem without having to ask for basic customer information. That would cut out an extra minute or so of information gathering. When the CSR picks up, it's a blank slate to them; it seems to be that we're always starting over with each caller." --Trent Giardino, North America tech support supervisor, video-game maker, Ubisoft "Where our users are seeing room for improvement [is in] tighter integration with other products like Outlook and calendaring. One calendar that governs [users'] whole world would be great. What's hard is using [CRM] for their corporate calendars [and synchronizing with] users who aren't [on] CRM." --Dean Harbry, principal and director of information technology, Ronald Blue & Co., a financial-planning company "It's all about early identification of, Who is this? And how we use that knowledge...to make the call shorter or direct the call to a different kind of agent." --Jon Anton, Ph.D., director of benchmark research, Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality "[Companies'] ultimate wish and goal is a single-user interface with a single, holistic view of all their customers. It ultimately comes down to this: They wish they only had one customer-interaction database." --Allen Nance, president, Mansell Group More Information, Everywhere
"If we had more data, we could do our jobs better. Front-line people are driven by results, and don't see the value of that data until after they've seen the effects. I'd like to see [CRM make] more people be more willing to improve the total amount of data and the quality of it--to create a virtuous cycle." --Mark Battaglia, senior vice president of marketing, Initiate Systems "I'd like to see more warranty functionality in the basic CRM system, to determine which ones should be paid automatically without human intervention. Now we have to use a third-party product for that.... We don't get a lot of information about the customer, except through the warranty system. We could learn a lot if we knew where every piece of equipment ends up." --Barry Libenson, CIO, Ingersoll-Rand "It's powerful to track the activity of people opening your emails and tracking their clicking. You need to let the email marketing software do what it's going to do, but it'd be great if it captured all the other information." --Susan McKinley, business systems manager, KnowledgeStorm "We need to be able to see whatever information we need to see about a particular customer--[and have] a central resource where customers could go to see the information that's pertinent to them. There's a lot of information that could be integrated on a Web site, for example, that pulls from [all of our] various databases.... Knowledge management needs to be completely and fully integrated with everything else you're looking at." --Gary Ketron, director of technical support, Attachmate Keep It Simple "The key driver [of CRM] remains contact management. The ability to keep track of your tasks and your schedule--and being able to tie it all together in a customer framework--is the most critical piece of simplifying the system. [CRM needs] to minimize the number of clicks and data entry points, [and] the tediousness of updating so many pieces of information." --Scott Ehmen, vice president of business development, Intellinet "Every piece of new technology should make things faster and easier, make people's jobs better as a result. If you're now requiring a person to enter more information, it's naturally going to take them longer--they don't like that. It's an endemic issue with CRM in terms of educating people, and showing them what they get as a result of entering that information." --Barry Libenson, CIO, Ingersoll-Rand Tell Me Not Just What, but How "We load [a] campaign module...it generates a lead, turns into an opportunity--now what do I do to move that lead along? [Today's software] doesn't provide the most effective way of telling the sales rep how to move this opportunity from a twenty percent likelihood of close to a thirty percent to a forty percent [likelihood]." --Patrick Guay, vice president of marketing and product management, netForensics Contact Josh Weinberger at joshw@destinationCRM.com
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