Social CRM – Thy name is SMART

CRM – As it evolved…

Customer relationship management – The CRM buzz word started in early 90s has given rise to more than a dozen known vendors and many more small time application builders. Conceptually CRM’s approach is to effectively manage the relationship of the customer with the organization. Hence the target audiences for CRM software applications were customer facing personnel that included – marketing, sales and service. From a generic horizontal solution, CRM, over the years evolved into specific solution templates for each of the industry segments. One key reason for this verticalization (if I may call) was the business process and terminologies that each industry followed since ages. Process always precedes the Product. To superimpose a technology for a process driven organization is relatively far easier than an organization that is still in the phase of BPR. So, in a way, CRM evolution also necessitated process re-engineering and metrics. Over the years, organizations realized that technology can only be process enablers, while an established process framework has to be in place before even evaluating the right CRM fitment. From standalone CRM systems, organizations and service providers partnered together to establish enterprise-wide integrated solutions for a seamless flow of data and thus eliminating process bottlenecks.

You would notice that all the above evolutions reflected more on a transactional level in an organization. Yes, agreed that analytics also matured hand-in-hand with CRM. Marketing, Sales and service dashboards helped organizations to take decisions – probably quicker but not always smarter. However, CRM as a “strategy” still looked distant.

The Social age

Billion dollar question – “How do we make “Customer” the focal point in an organization?” Any business roadmap will need to be drawn by proactively engaging the customer. His real voice has to be heard. By engaging the customer, you merely do not just offer your services to him; it becomes secondary. Rather, partner with customer and help him win in a highly competitive environment.

Let me illustrate this with an example.

We all know that in a land of masses as in India – Health industry is ever growing. For market watchers,

“”Healthcare has emerged as one of the most progressive and largest service sectors in India with an expected GDP spend of 8 per cent by 2012 from 5.5 per cent in 2009. It is believed to be the next big thing after IT and predicted to become a US$ 280 billion industry by 2020”

Viruses and diseases that were un-heard of are being discovered and named. Look at the number of nursing homes and hospitals that have cropped up in the neighborhood. The number of health insurance providers is increasing day by day. How do we ensure that our target hospital customer retains his winning edge over the competition? It’s important to note that the “real” customer is not the hospital. The common man on the road is the real customer. His voice has to be heard and his pain has to be felt. Only then our immediate target – “hospital customer” can win. If he wins, we win. Few of the known pains –

  • Absence of effective health monitoring in-between visits
  • Reactive treatments
  • Need for the ailing patients for repeat visits
  • Need for repeating the history and possible repeat tests before second prescription
  • Time is of essence especially for life threatening ailments
  • Cost & room availability constraints to keep the patients in the hospital for long

With our CRM expertise and technology advancement, can we re-strategize to reverse this reactive conventional process to a proactive treatment?

Yes. We can. Monitor the patient’s health, remotely after the first visit. Seamless architecture of – Community data hub ⇨ CRM system ⇨ Doctor’s decision ⇨ ERP ⇨ Mobile healthcare ⇨ Treatment ⇨ Mobile Apps ⇨ Back to CRM system. Use all the resources on-hand, including hospital call centers to treat patients at their place rather than their repeat visits to hospitals. This calls for complete re-engineered business process, apply CRM technology and architect seamless systems for timely treatment. We can build platforms and run the entire show end-to-end. Hospitals will focus on their core competency, that is, high quality treatment at an affordable cost and leave the IT management to us. In essence – IT companies and hospitals have partnered complimenting each other’s core competencies for the benefit of the common man – who is the real customer.

Few of the visible benefits –

  • Regular patient feedback for improved service
  • Well gathered Patient and historical data
  • Structure data to actionable insights for more cost efficient response to patients
  • More accurate data for medical inventory turn
  • Insights to refine corporate strategy
  • Inputs to improved distribution network
  • Re-emphasized customer brand
  • Generates many more jobs in the health sector
  • and many more…

This is what I meant by saying “Make the customer the focal point in the organization”.

Is it Social CRM or Smart CRM?

The trend of the business models going forward is NOT – CRM service provider or service consumer. It is creating these “Business Platforms” and running the show for the benefit of all stake holders. This is the age of social CRM. What is Social CRM?”. The word “Social” has been added to hear the real voice of the customer and put him at the heart of the enterprise. As we traverse along this less explored path, we can create umpteen number of CRM solutions by proactively engaging the customer. Social CRM is an art, smarter than conventional CRM.

The law of nature is NOT “Survival of the fittest”. It is “Survival of the Smartest”.

Find out how you can use Social CRM to deliver stronger Customer Relationships.

About the Author

Prasanna Rajanna is a Principal Consultant for Business Platforms Unit at Infosys Technologies Limited at Bangalore in India ( He has over a decade + experience in CRM solution architecting. While implementing Siebel CRM for Telecom, retail, healthcare and automotive companies in Europe and United States, he has shown clients how to derive maximum benefits of the product by streamlining the process that is best suited for that specific industry. Prior to CRM, Prasanna has held various functional head / marketing management roles for nearly 9 + years in manufacturing & retail companies. He has managed a countrywide partner & distributor network.

His passion is to think deeply and create innovative solutions that benefit all stake holders.