Editor’s note: The customer experience is becoming a key success indicator in the modern business world. Client feedback is a barometer that shows how efficient a company is working and predicts its future. That is why today, we present an interview with Michael Boysen, a CRM expert, who has designed and built technologies for marketing, sales, and customer service. Boysen is also the founder and editor of the blog, Effective CRM using Jobs-to-be-Done, which focuses on CRM, customer-centricity, and customer experience, among other topics.
Interview with Michael Boysen, Managing Director of Effective CRM
Trujay: Michael, you are the founder and editor of the blog, Effective CRM using Jobs-to-be-Done, which focuses on customer-centricity. Can a CRM solution improve the quality of the customer experience? How?
Boysen: Technology is no more a driver for customer-centricity than it is a driver for disruptive innovation. These things happen at the business model or operating model level. A friend of mine likes to remind me that 70% of the value is created by fixing the business, and 90% of the risk comes from deploying and operating technology.
CRM currently over-delivers, within a narrow focus, in so many ways that we sometimes lose sight of the simpler problems that need to be resolved. Sometimes they are cultural, and sometimes they can be found in fragmented and fragile technology portfolios that even CRM cannot fix. Develop a customer-centric operating model and then find the technology, and other resources needed to support it.
Trujay: Could you please explain to our readers the main steps of your Jobs-to-be-Done strategy?
Boysen: At its core, Jobs-to-be-Done is simply a different way to look at markets through a more stable, and precise lens. It addresses the problem-space, as opposed to the solution-space. The current state of research and analysis focuses on the solution space, and as a result, we have to go back for more year after year. It only seems like the markets are changing, when in fact it’s the solutions that are changing.
The process can be simple, or it can be rigorous. The approach depends on your needs. However, it always begins by defining a group of people with the same objective (job). This is the market. And while there are segments within these markets that identify how customers struggle differently, they are all trying to get the same job done. Don’t study “turntables”, study a group of people trying to listen to music.
Trujay: A number of CRM vendors emphasize the effectiveness of social media in data gathering and marketing campaign evolvement. In your opinion, can social networks enhance customer experience or have an adverse effect?
Boysen: Marketing campaigns are merely an organizational structure that can be orchestrated across many media. Is there an objective to launch a marketing campaign? Not necessarily. Data collection, the way I look at it, has a number of dimensions that I believe should be captured as market performance metrics:
- Is it important to access data from prior interactions? Are you able to do it successfully?
- Do we need certain prospect information to be successful? Do we have permission to collect it?
Social media is simply a current means by which we interact with prospects – collect and share information/resources – to inform them about an offering and help them reach decisions. However, one size fits none. In a perfect world, no engagement is required with a customer at all, and data is ubiquitous. This is true no matter what media emerge in the future to facilitate prospect/customer engagement. If you over-engage with contacts, it doesn’t matter what media you use.
Make the right offer, at the right time, to the right prospect, in the right location. Engagement is a means to an end, as is the channel. The end can be disastrous if you can’t pinpoint those data points for each prospect or group of similar prospects.
Trujay: In your opinion, what should business owners do to ensure their company’s growth?
Boysen: First, don’t assume your product or portfolio addresses the right problem(s). Viewing the world through existing solutions will end in some form of disruption because it is impossible to see higher-order solutions as they emerge. Second, don’t assume your ideas have any value. There is no shortage of ideas, but there is a shortage of understanding which, if any of them, has value.
We have markets full of similar products that are fighting for attention. Business owners should find the unmet needs of customers who are struggling to get a job done (in one way or another) and be different. This is in stark contrast to eliciting requirements/features for your current product. You will make the lives of your product team and your marketing team much better because you will be targeting the right problem, and aligning the right ideas to develop solutions and messaging.
Trujay: In your opinion, can CRM systems help gain efficient customer experience and reach desired business goals? What are the advantages and disadvantages of implementing the platform?
Boysen: The “customer experience” is a topic that requires a deeper conversation, but let’s just say that if you were to understand the core objective that is shared by a group of people, and you could measure how they struggle to reach that objective, you would serve your customer well. In turn, the business will be served well. If you don’t do this well, CRM is a simply expensive technology. An old organization plus new technology equals and expensive old organization (OO + NT = EOO).
Too many focus on the “user experience” which implies the consumption of an existing product. If it’s the wrong product, you will serve neither a customer nor the goals of the business. So, the answer to your question is no. Technology is only an enabler, but there is much work to be done to identify what must be enabled.
And one other thing to consider. There are many business objectives that must be reached to serve a customer appropriately, and some are invisible (e.g., no customer engagement). While they are generally not served well by CRM technology, they are important inputs to the customer experience. To me, that sounds like the opportunity for CRM vendors to exploit.
Trujay: Almost every business owner asks: “Which CRM platform is the best for my business management?” So, can you name one or more CRM solutions that you think are worth the most attention?
Boysen: One size fits none. Some are so costly and complex that they are actually a burden. It’s hard to find a CRM platform that does not over-deliver in some way. It’s also hard to find one that addresses the job companies are actually trying to get done – achieve profitable growth. Marketing and Sales along cannot do this, and integration across the value chain is time-consuming, frustrating, error-prone, and often incomplete.
Having a background in customizing and personalizing CRM platforms for specific customers, I can appreciate what needs to be done when faced with a complex toolset in order to fit my purpose. End-users of CRM platforms typically cannot, so right out of the box, their needs are not met. In that sense, I am also part of the customer ecosystem because they must hire me to solve that problem. Core business processes extend beyond the CRM platform – thus supporting the broader management of the business. Why do we still have artificial barriers between the front and back office?
Perhaps the day will come when the ultimate goal of Enterprises (achieve sustained profitable growth) is better understood by technology companies and a single appliance is finally invented. Imagine turning it on like a light switch. What business executive would not find budget dollars for that? It seems unachievable today. But ask yourself what someone who used candles and gas lanterns would think of a light switch. They would probably walk right past it. There is no “best CRM platform” out there. The only race is to get to the ultimate solution, and we’re not there yet. Not even close.