Tech Adoption Summit 2018: What Does the C in CRM Stand For?

As summarized in an article for LSA Insider by Leslie Hobbs:

Enterprise companies manage relationships.

Small and local businesses have relationships — and they hinge on being able to track and understand conversations.

That was a key point of Broadly CEO and Co-founder Josh Melick’s Headline Talk during LSA’s Tech Adoption Summit 2018.

Melick went on to say that innovators often forget that small businesses are unique, with their own set of requirements and problems to solve, and skinnying down enterprise-scale solutions are likely to fail. Why? Forgetting to design for difference inevitably results in product issues (like the Apple Watch’s heart sensor, which didn’t interact as effectively with darker skin tones or wrist tattoos).

Nowhere is this seen as clearly as with CRM systems, said Melick. If it’s a Fortune 500 company, it makes sense to have a CRM that’s essentially a database to track the thousands of customers they have. But a small business owner likely knows most — if not all — of her customers because they live in the community too.

For these local businesses, the C in CRM is Conversation, which is why Melick predicted a small business CRM will look much more like iMessage than Salesforce. A local business owner’s success hinges on building affinity through authentic conversations, and strengthening that sense of connection, he argued. In fact, Melick observed that the savviest businesses know that good conversations drive good reviews; they’re really the formula for a better customer experience.

Melick said a small business CRM needs to take a multi-channel approach to capture the ways these companies converse with their customers — email, web chat, text, phone or VOIP, contact forms, social, etc. As Broadly builds a CRM for local businesses, it will center conversations in one easy-to-manage place, automate common tasks, and feature an omnichannel shared inbox that ensures all team members are on the same page, he said. That context and visibility is key for small businesses, so all customer interactions start from an informed place, regardless of which team member is having the conversation.

Melick emphasized that no matter what innovation any company creates to help local businesses, it needs to start with an appreciation of their needs, goals, pain points, and challenges, which are frequently quite different than those of their much-larger counterparts.