Posted on by Satya Krishnaswamy
We have been snowed (rained?) under for the last few months with demos to prospects and analysts. With a short lull in proceedings, I have had the time to reflect on the common themes in the feedback I have received through these meetings. Given the extreme levels of noise in the “Social CRM” space and the fact that all vendors sound the same as far as their marketing materials go, I believe the following are three items that buyers in companies most care about as far #SCRM solutions go:
(a) User Experience: It is obvious that most Marketing, Community, Support and Sales folks are not techno-geeks and therefore do not take pleasure in proving that they can use complicated tools that are designed for folks with degrees in rocket science. The user experience should be as simple as possible without descending to a level where the outputs to the user are reduced to being meaningless. Unfortunately, a whole crop of the first generation social media monitoring/listening tools and “Social CRM” solutions out there make an already complex life for the business user even more complex.
(b) Insights: Paul Greenberg has been pushing the concept of an “Insights” category in the Social space for some time now. See here for an example. This is increasingly becoming important, nay critical, for the business users, who for years, have been subjected to looking at pretty (and sometimes not so pretty) charts and thinking “OK, what is this telling me?” and “What do I do next?”. Solutions that pull in data and do row/column based reporting will just not cut it any more. Is it possible to automate all insights? No, certainly not. But to the extent possible, vendors should extend themselves beyond their comfort zones and start looking at how they can start providing more value to their users.
(c) Use Cases: Business users belong to various functions/lines of businesses. Their daily lives typically revolve around being involved in, managing and responding to scenarios that start at point A and end at point Z. For example, scenarios could range from managing marketing events to supporting their communities to generating sales leads from conversations taking place on social channels. They are therefore looking for tools that mirror these use cases as much as possible and not a bunch of building blocks that they need to piece together in order to support their business. They do not have the time nor the inclination for Lego sets. For this, the vendors need to have sufficient business experience and inputs from their users to understand how to build their solutions on a use-case basis instead of doling out plain vanilla toolsets.
I pity the average Social Media manager out there today because he/she is probably being bombarded by a gazillion vendors on a daily basis. As I said before, all of them sound the same (even to me which is a interesting considering that I am part of a vendor company) and hence I would not be surprised if these buyers reflexively start shutting off all such inputs.
This would be a pity – instead, I would like to humbly suggest that they use the above 3 criteria to start separating the wheat from the chaff. This will automatically filter out a significant amount of noise from their inboxes!
As a last word, these 3 key themes are also reflected in Lou’s post last week about the lessons from the Gartner 360 summit that we attended. Obviously, these are common requirements that we are hearing from different corners of the market and vendors who are well prepared to satisfy them will be able to successfully crest the wave that’s bound to sweep over all of us soon.
See for yourself how Social CRM can improve your ROI