INSIGHTS and the CRMification of Society

A little while ago I was recording a podcast with an up and coming CRM company focused on banks and credit unions, CRMNext, and one of the questions that came up involved what’s on the CRM horizon. To be honest, no one really knows, but because I spend a lot of time trying to understand both this industry and the broader landscape, I am never without an opinion.

As luck would have it, Salesforce made a timely announcement a couple of weeks ago that bolsters the point I made in the podcast, so some stars seem to be aligning.

So, what was my prognostication? It’s something I’ve been noodling on and writing about for a while: I call it the “CRMification” of our society. I’m not great at naming things, which you can tell from this. (I once named a cat “Bird” so it can get worse.)

In my mind, CRMification is the process by which the culture absorbs CRM technology, processes and techniques to achieve some kind of new utility for getting things done better, faster and cheaper. Today we should add safer too.

You see this all the time, and another way to state it is that CRM is a disruptive innovation in the culture — another sterling example of my capacity to name things. If you’re asking what the next normal is, I think it will have something to do with CRM. Whatever.

Guidance for Pandemic Practices

In, Salesforce has built a universal application suite to help companies internalize best practices developed in the pandemic to manage more effectively and keep employees and customers safe.

In addition, it has developed a 40-page paper with plenty of visuals. Most importantly, was built on the Lightning Platform using new and existing technologies in a matter of weeks. So here are the apps so far:

  • Workplace Command Center, based on platform technology, is the single pane of glass for accessing all apps to help open up business again. Similar to managing a sales territory.
  • MyTrailhead for educating employees and workplace reskilling, because everyone’s job will change somewhat just to accommodate life with masks.
  • Emergency Response Management, a new product, came from the public sector cloud and helps coordinate responses, similar to field service.
  • Shift Management and Planning, based on scheduling optimization from field service, because people need to work staggered shifts to avoid overwhelming social distancing rules in the building, on elevators, and in public transport.
  • Volunteer and Grants Management, from Philanthropy Cloud, helps organizations to support workplace giving programs and to engage with organizations like food banks. If your business runs a cafeteria, what happens to the leftovers at the end of the day?
  • Contact Tracing, a manual activity, this system leverages traditional CRM technology to trace people with exposure without gobstering your cell phone data.
  • Employee Wellness Assessment, helps to monitor employee wellness and capture results, including mental and emotional status.
  • Extend with Partners engages partners in the AppExchange to add functionality. It will be important over time to help expand the offering.

Most of the apps are coming to market shortly, according to Salesforce, but some customers already have them and there are user stories.

As you can intuit, this is all about helping the economy restart in a safe way. The downloadable companion report describes a matrixed approach with three tracks or columns (Stabilize, Reopen and Grow) and four template rows with sub-areas that span the three columns. So for example, the first template addresses the following:

How you make decisions

  • Structured planning and information gathering
  • Accelerated and delegated decision-making
  • Establishment of a data culture with clear instrumentation, visualization and new KPIs

This template runs across all columns, for instance.

Other templates: how you work, how you engage customers, and how you serve society. Each has its own set of specific templates. Confused? Don’t be. Find The COVID-19 Response Playbook here. It’s free.

My point is that in a very short time, this company has generated a new application suite focused on the unique problems of re-starting the economy in the middle of an active pandemic.

It is applying core CRM capabilities — like an expandable database, analytics, process flows, call center and more — to do practical and logical things that otherwise would take too many human resources to be affordable. To my way of thinking, that’s CRMifying the culture, and it beats running a business on gut instinct.

Contact Tracing, Shift Planning

Consider just two capabilities: contact tracing, and shift management and planning.

We’ve already been apprised of the need for contact tracing to identify and track people found to be exposed to active carriers of the virus. It’s already in use in several states. This is a basic epidemiological tool that generates lots of data. If tracing is done by hand, it quickly spins out of control in an epidemic where spread is exponential. It’s not unlike running a sales territory and trying to winnow down all of the potential interest into deals.

The other tool, shift management and planning, is something that is still done on paper in retail operations and restaurants, for example, but has not been applied to vast industries where people are on salary and just work.

There are a lot of practical and necessary aspects of this. For instance, if your building is suddenly restricted to 25 percent or 50 percent of its occupancy capacity, it suddenly becomes important to schedule employee appearances to avoid overwhelming social distancing on elevators and cafeterias, not to mention rush hours on public transport.

It’s also important to get as much of your team working as possible to support your business. So, there is a sudden need to manage a workforce well beyond the eight hours of a traditional workday and well beyond the usual in-house requirements.

There are also a lot of apps that deal with health and safety, which I will leave you to discover, but suffice it to say that they also work within the matrix to adapt to your style of business and your practices.

You see the strong impact of the Business Roundtable throughout, most notably if you are familiar with the organization’s recent declaration that the old idea of a corporation — that its purpose is solely to make profits for shareholders — has been expanded to other constituents, like employees, partners and local communities. You can see this running throughout the product.

During the crisis we’ve seen multiple companies offer their products for free use — Zoho, for one — as businesses try to get open or continue running. This is something different, however, and it’s quite possible that and any other products it inspires will form part of the basis for the next normal.

It has a lot going for it in that it is fundamentally a management tool aimed at an organization’s most valuable resource, its people. That’s one of the reasons I’m thinking about the CRMification of our society — or whatever we eventually call it.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.

Denis Pombriant

Denis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry analyst, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can't Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. Email Denis.

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