Augmented Customer Relationship


Are tools supposed to guide or assist?[tweetmeme source=”Marcio_saito” only_single=false]

You most likely have used a GPS device to guide you from point A to point B. You also know that your GPS system has a Point-of-Interest (POI) feature that allows you to locate gas stations along the way and insert them as waypoints in your route.

You have never used POIs to find gas stations. And you never will.

Why is that? Humans are not good driving to a place they don’t know, but they are very good at finding gas stations along the way. That is because we can search them visually (we are much better than machines at that) and use patterns such as “there is usually a gas station on freeway exits”. The GPS POI software does not provide enough value to justify itself for that task.

The “Relationship” in CRM Tools is like the GPS Point-of-Interest

If your company has more than a handful of people in sales, you have a CRM system which is used, among other things, to store contact and transactional information and provide reports and dashboards to management. You know your CRM tool was also designed to enforce sales processes and help sales people sell. And, as you probably know, they don’t use those features for real.

Like looking for a suitable gas station, Sales is a human, non-structured activity and it is impossible to capture the relationship aspect of it into a linear workflow. If the CRM system forces you into a fixed process, you just stop using it.

Does that mean CRM Tools cannot help people to sell?

Of course they could, but it takes a different approach. For activities that are not suitable for automation, systems should not attempt to guide through a pre-established path or workflow, but  instead it should assist by bringing meaningful data in context that enhances their ability to make decisions on the fly.

Augmented Reality is an emerging technology that overlays a data layer over what you see to assist you in making faster decisions. Imagine that as you drive, your car can detect sources of infrared and project on the windshield so that it highlights a deer crossing the road in front of you. It is still up to you to avoid hitting the animal, but the system is providing information to assist your actions.

When it comes to Sales, CRM should assist, not guide

If CRM systems can refrain from guiding people through a rigid sales process and rather project a data layer on the windshield that brings information in context so that humans can make better and faster decisions, maybe we can get the right combination of guidance and assistance that makes CRM software not only good at storing contacts, capturing transactional data and providing analytical reports, but actually help you to find more gas stations.

That is one of the promises of Social CRM.

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