I was listening today to one of my favorite industry podcasts called CRM Playaz hosted by two smart dudes, Paul Greenberg and Brent Leary. Their guest was Ed Thompson, another smart dude and leading analyst at Gartner, the IT research company. At the frontend of the show, they debated the topic of "is it CRM or CX?" There was some healthy discussion that made me want to write down my thoughts on the topic.
Here's the gist of the debate. Many in the (legacy) CRM industry have recast the industry as the CX industry. Like us! However, Ed, Paul and Brent aren't big fans of the idea. The main point that they put forth is that CX is a company's strategy for delivering a memorable and exceptional experience to their customers. And they say CRM is the software that enables you to do that.
I used to agree with that. I don't any longer. And yeah, you have to be a real CRM ... err, CX nerd to care.
If you've been around the CRM industry, you'll know that there have been several key trends that have marked the passage of time and the advances of technology within customer relationship management. Client-server, email, web, open source, cloud, mobile, social, AI are all technology trends that have dramatically transformed the way companies and their customers interact and how those companies manage their customers. That's 30 years of tech in one short sentence. Along the way, we have seen the term "CRM" change and grow to include many concepts like sales force automation, customer service automation, marketing automation and many, many other related software categories.
Take a moment to reflect on the evolution that CRM technology has gone through. Thirty years ago, CRM software meant tracking contacts and sales deals on your laptop with Act, Goldmine or Siebel. Customer service software was a totally distinct software category with companies like Scopus and eGain. Sales software didn't talk with service software at all. Then came the advent of spam in your Hotmail inbox which spawned the marketing automation category with companies like Epiphany. Yet another separate category!
It was in the early 2000's that analysts took a step back and recast "CRM" as the higher-level umbrella term for the market category including sales force automation (SFA), marketing automation platforms (MAP) and customer service and support (CS&S) software. Fast forward 15 years and analysts add in e-commerce software. It's a big software category with over $80B (yeah, thats a $B) in spend in 2021 by companies like you.
So all that is telling you that, according to the analysts, CRM is not just sales software any longer. It encompasses over 100 different software subcategories according to Ed and his friends at Gartner.
But here is the rub. You probably still call your sales software "CRM." Even when you think of Sugar's CRM, you probably think of CRM for your sales team. Even though when we originally named the company SugarCRM, we meant "sales, marketing and service software", the name mostly means "sales software" to most people. Most people frankly associate us still to sales software because of the CRM part in our name.
Here's my main point. It's time for a new name for this software category. It's time to call this software something that evokes what we are helping you do in this modern digital era... manage your customers' journey across every stage of researching, buying and using ... or marketing, selling and servicing ... depending on which side of the till you are standing at. And that's what CX (customer experience) is.
I'll save my thoughts on what modern CX is all about for another post.
Have a great day and enjoy creating some new customers today and keeping your current ones happy.