SCRM Vendor Challenge: Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It… Craft More Compelling Social Business Narratives

GOTCHA! HOW MANY OF YOU ARE NOW HUMMING THE MISSION IMPOSSIBLE THEME? 

This challenge isn’t at all impossible, plus I PROMISE that it will be both an educational and valuable exercise for any of you who pick up the thrown gauntlet. As well, likelihood is extremely high that you will have new &/or improved narratives to use in your marketing, demos, and training videos.

First a small disclaimer to frame this up: As you know, I don’t participate in either the CRM Idol contest judging or reviews. (Although I do vote on finalists at the end of the competition.)  There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is that as the CRM Idol Community Manager, it is very important that I keep my focus on each of you as people, rather than vendors of solutions. Which is not to say that I don’t discuss any CRM or Enterprise 2.0 vendors with the Judges in a professional context as industry colleagues – of course I do. But during CRM Idol season, with the panelists and judges I do my best to limit discussions about contestants to pointing out their feedback on experiences gained through participation, and highlighting examples of their contributions to the competition and the entire CRM community.

But during the off-season, you’re all fair game!

I can, will, and do, test and review offerings in my professional capacity. But my approach to assessment of products is much different from how the Judges approach and evaluate it, mostly because I’m deep in the trenches servicing CRM customers daily. Perspectives are different when you are the one selling, designing, implementing, and supporting social business, CRM, and Enterprise solutions. The CRM Idol judges offer you the 10,000′ vision and strategy perspective, while I am digging around with the wiring 5′ under the hood from the consultant’s vantage point.

I’m going to let you in on a secret that is both a coaching guide and your challenge:

It doesn’t matter what CRM or SCRM product I review, I use the same scenario as my testing framework for every single offering. His, yours & the other guy’s. And this is it:

Why do I use this ‘old school, traditional’ CRM process flow as a testing framework methodology?

  • Because I have used this same trade show scenario in hundreds of demos myself to tell an ‘end-to-end’ story about CRM.
  • It might not be a trade show, but ALL organizations have events of some sort or another. The events vary, but the end-to-end processes don’t change much.
  • That’s a screen shot from one of my demos. During the demo, I click into each and every one of those icons to show features & functionality while I am telling a use case story.
  • The flow above is pretty much the same for marketing campaigns, new product launches, promo code sales, etc.
  • (Some orgs may not create quotes, credit checks or order acknowledgements, but those are usually backend processes anyway, so they are there as placeholders for integration examples with ERP/Order Entry systems.)
  • This testing framework allows me to assess your product (and his, hers & theirs,) consistently on key deliverables & comparables:
  • Which of these same processes, functions, features and analytics can I do? Which ones are missing?
  • If any are missing, are they in planned development? Can I integrate with other products that fill in the gaps? If so, which ones?
  • How would I implement this in your product?
  • Can I configure &/or customize rules, logic, and flow?
  • Can I set data requirements or standards to collect/store what I need at each step of the process flow and the underlying processes, too?
  • How would I migrate data to your offering?  Is the data information architected well for integrations?
  • Can I get the reports and data I need to do a robust analysis of the whole flow and select processes/phases?
  • Do I like the user interface? Is it intuitive as I work through & navigate this flow?
  • How would I fit your innovations into this traditional example of a CRM flow.
  • Where are the logical spots to incorporate your social capabilities into my story & demo?
  • How could this process flow be improved and made more efficient using your Product/Service?

So there it is – your challenge, should you choose to accept it.  Step back and review your product with a proven use case story like the one above.

Most of you won’t put tickmarks beside all of these processes and features or you’d already be selling like the big platform players, (and for the record, in 15 years I’ve only worked with one product to date that did all of this easily, so don’t be discouraged – very few other vendors could check every box either). But… you can write your own new narrative about the things you can do innately, and via integrations, and craft kick-ass use case demos!

For those of you who are real keeners, I’ve created a slide deck for you with loads more coaching, strategy, and examples for telling more compelling CRM and social business stories.

It is up to you to decide if you’d like to share your discoveries & experience if you take on this challenge, but I’d be interested if you are willing.  It’d be fun to compare notes between contestant perspectives & learning, wouldn’t it? I know I’d love to see that trade show image totally reworked with a flow that demonstrates your own compelling use case.  Tell us a story.

I’ll leave you to it. Queue the Mission Impossible theme again… :-p

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Back to Basics: Event Analytics for the Non-analytical – Part 1

As consultants and analysts, we all want to deliver on visions of a new kind of socially enabled enterprise, much like the promises offered at Dreamforce, but there are pivotal challenges that will ultimately decrease the likelihood for real success stories, if the core language and educational challenges go unaddressed.  One reality is that many VARs and even more customers don’t speak in terms of data intelligence at all yet, much less words like social, engaging, listening, monitoring, and analysis which have now been added to the business lexicon. We have to simplify it and make it easier, especially for SMB’s with lean staffing.  In an effort to aid the non-analytical, but eager masses, this will be a very basic ‘how to’ guide series for organizations on how to take smaller sips from the firehose, and chew on new knowledge nuggets in smaller, more easily digestible morsels.

Frameworks are useful. Development has Agile. Project Management has Prince2. How about a basic framework for smoothly integrating monitoring and analytics into their business? There is a critical need for a widespread basic methodology as a starting point. I’m not suggesting this series will be that kind of framework, but let’s start by giving some simple steps in simple language as a starting point.

If we shift our thinking away from use cases and toward specific events, we quickly recognize that we can iterate how social, listening and monitoring are woven into the processes that are affected by events. And we can guide customers to build more value and intelligence into their services as a result.  We can also teach an invaluable set of basic principles for understanding better how to market, monitor, respond and analyze activities and insights, in phases and as a whole – regardless of whether users have fancy new tools or are performing manual analysis.

Given that there are different use cases & needs across organizations – there is no ‘one scenario to rule them all’ – the key to better story-telling, messaging and use understanding is to present using a standard basic, but infinitely flexible theme. The basics – while there are unique requirements and goals for every business, ALL businesses share one commonality:

Whether large or small, all organizations have events – planned and unplanned.

(They might not call them events, but that is what they are.)

  1. All orgs have events, whether planned or unplanned
  2. Events can have internal, external, or a combination of both audiences
  3. Events may include any combination of: customers, partners, prospects/leads, supply chain, vendors, employees, VARs, competitors, influencers, public, media, industry interests.

In simple terms, an event might be planned like a new product launch, a marketing campaign, a webinar series, or attendance at an industry conference or trade show. Unplanned events might be something like a natural disaster that affects business, loss of wireless connection during a big conference, or it might even be a single negative tweet that spreads across the internet. Once you shift the story to begin understanding that you can look at most business and social activities as events, it becomes easier to begin to analyze them using a very simple method: break the event nuggets into bite-sized, chewable, digestible bites.

ALL events can minimally be broken down into Before, During, After phases

With that basic shift in perspective, non-analytically inclined business users can now begin to ask relevant, intelligent questions to determine where listening, engagement, response, community building, follow-ups and sentiment might fit into their business processes and KPI’s at each phase. It is as simple as repeating these steps over and over – before, during and after every event – rinse and repeat infinitely to improve your value offerings and business intelligence:

  • Monitor
  • Feedback
  • Assign
  • Action
  • Response
  • Process
  • Analyze

Using the event method, you have:

  •  two kinds of listening/data mining/analysis – confirmation (searching for knowns) and discovery – searching for unknowns using layered data that builds over time
  • and two kinds of responses – real-time recovery/action and longer term strategies/initiatives generation

You can:

  • tell stories with a better narrative flow – you can can show cause to correlation
  • Build your own framework for consistent analysis – measured across multiple dimensions, data points and metrics
  • It’s repeatable – can repeat on infinite events or over and over on the same event – like a negative tweet turned into a happy customer
  • From a fan page ‘like’ to an international story making headlines – when examined under the same basic framework  it is easier to decide what drove success and failure at each phase.

Take it a step further and think a head to audit, governance and risk management for your organization. All social conversations and activities (events in and of themselves,) can be linked to a specific point in time. Whether creating policy or running recovery strategies, what happens before, during & after are critical considerations.

If you leap even further ahead, you’re now also providing a solid foundation for doing predictive analytics for future events based on activities by phase during earlier events. Ultimately, customers and business users can begin to build their own maturity model and better understand how to merge activities and analysis into their own unique processes more readily.

We’ve established that all organizations have events, but many look at those events as a whole project, or as singular unrelated happenings.  Businesses can improve their own value offerings by defining goals, KPIs, process adjustments, and activities – before, during and after events, large or small. It all starts with a basic understanding of layering data and the value of infinite intelligence loops.

Like hula hoops, the more loops you can spin and longer you can keep them off the ground, the healthier & more fit you are… and healthier businesses can deliver better service and value.

Next up in Part 2 of this series, we’ll explore how to use this basic method to plan a trade show event and incorporate engagement, community building, customer service and analysis into each phase of the event.