Thursday, October 05, 2006

Exact Software Thinks You Should Buy Their Product (But Says Something Interesting, Anyway)

“CRM has sustained success through its ability to help companies sell but, only focuses on a portion of the customer relationship, not taking into account pervasive business processes that can affect customers.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself, although I might have been more careful about the commas. But that is the opening sentence of “Customer Relationship Management: Putting Customers at the Center of the Business,” a white paper from Exact Software ( Even more to my liking, the paper continues, “using current CRM point solutions will not build and manage an entire customer experience.”

But it soon shifts to a narrow focus. “Building upon and improving CRM involves recognizing and linking all business processes, including workflow, documents, employee and client communications, departments and data storage, to better monitor and look after the customer relationship….The most important element of a customer-centric solution is workflow.”

Really? Workflow? Who knew?

By now you’ve guessed what Exact is selling. And you’re right: the white paper is collateral for e-Synergy, a “Web-based collaboration platform” that “integrates and consolidates corporate data into a single database, allowing all members of the value chain to view and modify information based on their access and roles within the system.” (Exact also sells products for manufacturing, field service, accounting, and analytics, but not a conventional CRM system.)

Despite the self-serving motive, Exact’s paper does present an intriguing vision of giving customers a clear view of all business processes that affect them, both directly and indirectly. This isn’t a complete solution: beyond exposing those processes, you need to measure and manage them to produce optimal outcomes. But given how often customers are viewed as purely passive recipients of business “treatments,” it’s worth a reminder that they can and should be actively engaged in creating their own experience.

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