Have you ever heard of a “Triptych”?
I admit I had not until about 7:00 am yesterday morning. I was in my office early working on a project team kickoff call I had to lead later in the day. This is a DemandEngine project where we will be conducting an enterprise-wide CRM readiness assessment for a large research institution. This University is doing CRM-right: strong executive sponsorship, program charter and supporting project team, and a cross-functional approach across traditional institution silos.
So as I am working on my presentation and notes, I receive an email alert about a new post from one of my favorite bloggers, Peter Kim. I met Peter several years ago when he was an analyst at Forrester Research. Today he is a recognized thought leader and analyst on social business strategy.The blog post is entitled “sCRM: Stop me if you think you've heard this one before”. Here’s an excerpt:
“Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software suites have been around for decades, "social" or not. Although today's playing field may be shaking out into an intense competition among SAP, Oracle, Salesforce.com, and Microsoft, the problems of CRM 1.0 persist in the world of CRM 2.0 or "social" CRM. CRM is like a triptych - a work of art consisting of three sections. The ornate middle section has always been technology.”
“The other two equally important parts are process and culture. Tech vendors would have you focus only on the center, but your program needs all three parts completed.”
In a pre-kickoff prep call last week, the project managers asked me to lead the call with some thoughts on CRM best practices. What better current example to use as part of my call and with full credit to – and thank you - Peter Kim.
The promise of CRM
If you have heard me or any of our consultants speak on the topic, CRM has a long track record in the corporate world dating back to the late 1980’s/early 1990’s. The path is well-marked with lessons of failed CRM projects with grand visions and technology investments that didn’t deliver expected benefits. What factors limited CRM of the past? Planning, people, and the business processes, mostly.
Fast forward to 2012, and CRM is now the “must-have software” in higher education. And why not? Consider some of the following messages I pulled from commercial and higher ed-specific vendors. What business, college or university wouldn’t want to:
•“Engage customers in powerful new ways”
•“Streamline the communication, application, and enrollment process so you can engage with the right students at the right time through the right channels”
•“Get a 360-degree view of your students” (I used this one a lot when I was with Sungard Higher Education)
•“Increase enrollment, reach best-fit students and meet strategic goals, while better managing costs”
•“Embrace the social web and use it to connect with customers and prospects.”
You are probably hearing a lot about social CRM, sCRM, or CRM 2.0. But what does that mean? (see "It's Time to Put the Relationship Back in Higher Ed CRM")
If you can post to Twitter and Facebook from your CRM software, are you now qualified as CRM-social? If your software can embed an inquiry form in Facebook, does that mean your college is engaging in CRM 2.0?
Technology alone can’t manage the student enrollment experience
We conduct secret shopping engagements for colleges and universities across the country, and more times than not, the presence of technology alone does not necessarily improve the enrollment experience. In many ways, communication automation, or what I call CRM-lite has put some institutions further away from their students.
As I had one client tell me recently after we presented our results from a secret shopping audit of his department, “our people think that because we have this CRM system, that email delivery platform, and another online application management system that we are recruiting students. In fact, the areas of opportunity have nothing to do with our software suite.”
The vision… and the reality
Unfortunately, the vendor-led vision and the on-the-ground campus reality is often something different. Technology vendors are not wrong in defining the capabilities of what is possible with their solutions. It’s the application of those solutions where the vision train derails off the tracks.
Let's compare the vision with what actually happens:
•“Engage customers in powerful new ways” = send more stuff
•“Streamline the communication, application …” = replace the human element
•“360 degree view …” = more logins and passwords
•“Reach best-fit students and meet strategic goals …” = send larger e-blasts
•“Embrace the social web …” = send multi-channel SPAM
One vendor prominently features a customer quote who touts, "Our CRM allows us to effectively measure each mail sent." Wow. You don't need CRM software for that; try one of the $15 per month email blast providers on the market.
A communciation flow does not a CRM strategy make
CRM should be an institutional philosophy and strategy, to re-orient how colleges and universities engage with students, the community, and it’s constituents across departmental functions. A CRM program (planning, people, processes, and technology) should focus on improving the experience OF the relationship in a way that is mutually beneficial.
Resist the urge to only gaze at the ornate middle section (technology) and take in the equally important parts of people and culture for your own institution’s CRM triptych.