Thursday, June 21, 2007

Could we all just Get Human already?

Denis Pombriant tells a tale about finding somebody's lost Amex card and the experience of trying to call Amex and to let them know he had found it. This proved to be quite a struggle, as Amex's sophisticated call center system aimed at improving efficiency (and to the extent that it's possible, removing all human interaction from the equation) wasn't equipped to handle such a call. He suggests that these other, non-sales related, types of interactions represent about half of what drives people to vendors, and asks, if the vendors can't handle these issues, is CRM really doing what it is supposed to do?
This experience made me think about CRM in general and its future. For a long time we have been operating on the assumption that the CRM of today — what some of us refer to as CRM 1.0 — is just a down payment on something better which we have named CRM 2.0. What if it is not a down payment, though? What if this is as good as it gets and maybe we have to deal with the idea that as organizations find better ways to achieve frictionless transactions, CRM actually gets worse?

I tend to think it's going to get better, in so much as the 2.0 in CRM 2.0 means web/enterprise 2.0. Paul Greenburg has had a lot to say about his on his blog. There is a huge gap today in the linking of CRM sytems to social software and communities. That link should be a no-brainer, but apparently has too many vendors (both the ones that produce the stuff, and the ones that buy it and should be demanding such integration) stumped at this point.

When I go to a vendor website and cannot find what I need, I want that instant chat button to save me unproductive time browsing their site. I don't have the time to dig, and am such a click-happy web browser that every minute out on the web and away from my immediate to-do list can spiral down into an hour or two of unproductive time that leaves me lost someplace a dozen sites away from where I started and wondering where the time went. Such are my ADD like tendencies.

Further, I want to find a wiki based FAQ where I can add a new question. Or a pointer to user based community sites. If the answer to the problem I'm having with my Canon digital camera is not self evident on the Canon website, how about direct link to discussion boards on the topic of digital photography where someone has no doubt already ask the question that's on my mind.

Not everything can fit into the flow charts of an automated call system, or the navigation of an online support site. It never will. So please, please can I just have the instant chat button on your website when I browse and a simple way to get to a human when I call?

I appreciate the service that provides, but why is it necessary?

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