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CRM and Technology Companies

Technology companies should be good at CRM, right? After all, it is their technology that is driving the Internet, enabling e-channels, customer contact and e-biz. Yet, if there ever was a case where having, understanding and using the right tools does not a masterpiece make, this is it.

1. Single, real-time customer view

As for telecom services companies, some tech companies lack a single, real-time view of the customer, so developing customer knowledge and insight is difficult or impossible. When is the customer's purchase window? What products might they be considering? How are we and competitors positioned? Who from our company was last in contact with them? When were they last in contact with us and what did they want? Questions such as these cannot meaningfully be answered when the single view is not in place.

2. Channels not integrated

Even more challenging is the potential for an important relationship-sales call to be made immediately after the customer has complained via another channel. We love you, you want us not. Companies tend to drive traffic to the low cost interface, first from personal sales to call centres, now to the web. Customers are accessed via a plethora of communications and exchange channels, and the companies using these channels often do not have a strategy in place for integration and channel management, both within e-channels themselves and between e-channels and bricks and mortar.

3. Customer value not aligned with programs

More so than companies in other industries, tech companies do not discriminate relationships sufficiently among customers according to their current and potential value to the company. Some do not design objectives according to the value of the customer: non-customer - desirable, non-customer - unwanted, new customer, returning customer, and L-M-H value customers. Question: what do you want the relationship to look like and will you know when you have it?

4. Legacy investments under-cutting strategy

Some tech companies are anchored to the past by the investments they have made. For example, investments in business models, legacy technologies, channel relationships and even in relationships with some employees may be barriers which limit the company from achieving its full potential. As one tech GM said, we must overcome success - unlearn some of what has made the company successful, jettison ballast, and head for new horizons to reach a higher level of performance.

5. The employee relationship

Yesterday's technology company was focused on command and control, directing and managing employees as individuals and in small teams. Today's technology company has as its main enemy, time. The company cannot afford to be bound by anything. It is designed to be fast. Ideally, it has no centre and no commanding leader. It should expect and reward collaboration from its employees. The tech leader creates an environment for success and breaks down barriers to change. Employees are encouraged to challenge the status quo. Doing so is not seen as disruptive but is valued because it is evidence of a genuine desire to make the company better. Unorthodox alliances, new ways of implementing the vision, exciting intensity and boundless enthusiasm - all are much sought after by the company. But what does the employee receive in exchange for all this? For some companies, there is more work to be done here.

6. Needed: A process for innovation

Margins for almost all tech goods and services are declining and will never again hit historical levels. Commoditization has hit tech hard, and companies now know they cannot shrink and cut their way to prosperity. Now innovation should be customer-centric. Customer innovation allows companies to define and transition business models from volume to customer-specific relevance. It comes back to differentiating customers based on relationships and having a plan to create the value each customer wants.