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CRM is dead! Long live CRM!
by Mark Smith

Salesforce is an extraordinary success story. In the words of their larger than life CEO they ‘lead the industry as the first to bring cloud, social and mobile to CRM, and now with our latest release we are making artificial intelligence available to millions of Salesforce users with Einstein’.  That’s great but thing is, I think CRM is dead……..

Now given that Salesforce have a Market Cap of 60 Unicorns and an 8 and a half Unicorn revenue for 2017, you may be forgiven for thinking that I am talking total balls. But bear with me.

We use Salesforce, it’s okay as a piece of software – if you spend ages you can hammer it into good shape, it holds all our clients past and future in a nice database and it can spew out reports to keep my mania for numbers under control. It’s nicely up there in the cloud so more easily shared across our growing international operations. But I think for many users Salesforce is actually a piece of intermediate technology.

Why? Well the thing is Salesforce only works if you have a human sitting in front of it. Of course, it automates certain stuff – but at its core Salesforce and all CRM’s go out of their way to present data to cleverer sorts (we call them human agents) who can then choose how they articulate that information to other people (we call them human customers) for mutual (well not really mutual, but you get my drift) advantage. I know that the big man is all set on AI, and Einstein will make Salesforce sentient – only thing is it won’t. It can’t. Trust me, I am a Doctor (of biology) and I can tell you straight that people from my side of the tracks have absolutely no idea what real, human intelligence actually is. So making it artificial is like making god artificial or love artificial. If you don’t know what it is, you can’t recreate it – or worse you recreate what you guess it is and then annoy people with your faux interpretations.

Maybe I’m being harsh here – but let’s look at it another way; how is CRM charged for? It’s a per seat license, right? With some additional services on top for a few dollars more. Guess what sits on the seat? Yup a human agent. Now let’s pretend that Einstein will work (it won’t, but let’s pretend). What happens then? Tell you what, I’ll be the first to offer to buy that service – no need for anything other than the 1 seat then. Grand – I’ve just saved dozens of licenses as Salesforce becomes sentient.

So CRM is dead. But hold on, ‘long live CRM’ is in the title of these ramblings. Because of course it ain’t dead – companies need to hold a ‘single instance of you’ somewhere – they need to know that Jane subscribes to this, what she watches, what she listens to, what she buys, when she buys, how many kids she’s got, if she’s married, if she lives in a castle or a cave. That’s data. So keep it in a database – one that has its fingers in all the pies across the whole company – so that the single instance of you is kept alive with new data all the time. But then don’t for goodness sake sit another human in front of that – instead automate and automate and automate again. Frankly once I’ve bought something all I want to know is how it works, if it goes wrong fix it, when it’s up for renewal/replacement make me an offer, let me know what I might like to have by way of upgrade (or downgrade – loyalty is worth more in the long run than fleecing customers until they find you out) and so on. And none of that needs a human!

Omni-channel comms – be it from app, e-mail, phone call, WhatsApp, Messenger, SMS, Alexa, drone or cyborg should be deployed to keep me informed and make sure that I never have to pick up the phone or tweet to a provider about their crap service.

Long live CRM I say – only in this new world – CRM returns to its original box as a database and the other machines crack on and communicate personally, carefully, sensitively, empathetically BUT automatically to give the customer the very best experience. And, all the lovely money saved can be spent where it should be, on making the thing your human customers spent money on in the first place better and better.

Next up… ‘Making communication engines sentient’!

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