Jon Ferrara was co-founder of the pre-Facebook, pre-Internet, and pre-LinkedIn CRM system called GoldMine . His motivation was to connect people on a more personal level—to allow them to build relationships that create real value. That’s still his mission at his newest company, Nimble . His product is what many call “the world’s first social CRM”. More than CRM, Nimble helps companies connect the tools, silos and customer experiences that many find difficult. Its value goes far beyond CRM . It helps companies operate with greater agility.
Jon is a big fan of the customer experience, and recently he and I had the opportunity to talk in depth about how technology can help (or hurt) the customer experience.
Our world has changed. Customers no longer want to be pushed through a sales funnel (as many CRM programs can make them feel). They are human and value relationships, value creation and good times.
So I asked Jon about his opinion on these points. His ideas on how to deepen relationships by combining CRM with social conversations deserve your attention.
For those of you who haven’t seen Nimble yet, here’s a screenshot (for Tope Awotona, founder of www.calendly.com , whom I don’t know yet) showing how robust Nimble’s information cure capabilities are and some of the options it offers to connect, comment, follow, annotate, save, remember, etc.:
Storyminers: So, in addition to helping salespeople control their sales efforts, how can CRM be used to create more value for customers?
Agile: Customer experience is all about aligning the promises you make with the experiences you deliver. Unfortunately, the customer journey is interrupted whenever customer-facing employees use different systems. The CRM system is commonly used by salespeople and marketers to reach potential customers, customers and influencers; frontline CX representatives and customer service teams work on your CX system; and accounting and everyone else in the office works in G-Suite or Office 365.
What’s missing in most cases is a unified system on a single platform that unifies the six islands of information that surround every business: sales, marketing, customer service, accounting, social media, and email. It’s true that there are business options available from Salesforce and Oracle that unify their commitments, but their complex and expensive systems aren’t accessible to 99% of the business world.
What most companies need is a simply intelligent social CRM that automatically generates people and company records from the data that is already in and around their company, so that all customer-facing employees can get involved. armed with business context and social insights. That’s what Nimble does and that’s why we’re growing so quickly.
My opinion: this is a smart design. Once all of the company’s systems are connected, understanding the customer’s intent and anticipating needs allows you to deliver a higher-value service at a lower cost. Until those connections are established, products like Nimble can help you connect the dots, bypassing common disconnects that lead to frustrated customers.
Storyminers: How Can Companies Leverage CRM to Serve Before Selling? (ie, emphasize value creation rather than just extracting it from customers’ portfolios)
Agile: Imagine this scenario. I’m a sales representative and I’m on Twitter, Outlook or Gmail, Instagram, Facebook and CRM for the company. When I’m reading a post on StoryMiners, I want to know who Mike Wittenstein is and if I’ve talked to him or connected with him in the past. I want to know if anyone on my team knows him. I want to walk in his digital footprint to get to know him and what he loves, and I want to be able to connect with him in whatever appropriate, relevant and authentic channel I can. That’s what Nimble helps people do, bringing out a customer’s history of interactions with a person or company and displaying the important signals that can help facilitate a genuine connection.
Nimble makes it easy for people to authentically engage with a customer, prospect or lead about what he or she is passionate about, before engaging with them about business.
My take: putting relationships and service ahead of sales is the difference between a valuable experience and a merely functional transaction. As long as you use the information you’ve discovered about someone who uses Nimble to make an honest connection that doesn’t manipulate others, it’s useful to everyone and contributes to value creation.
Storyminers: What are some of the most common CRM challenges that a company needs to overcome to be much more responsive to customers “when they want, where they want and how they want?”
Agile: The biggest mistake companies make when implementing their CRM is asking employees to become data-entry jockeys. Most customer-facing employees continue to manage most conversations and relationships via email, spreadsheets and social media – rather than in a separate contact manager (which requires painstaking documentation). CRMs that require users to record what they’ve done, who they’ve done it with, and what the possible outcomes would be whenever they connect with external constituencies are fundamentally flawed. They require a mountain of work that people just aren’t willing to do.
There is a powerful stat released by Docurated stating: ‘Only a third of a sales rep’s time is actually spent selling. That means the other two-thirds are wasted on day-to-day tasks like looking up contact details and updating CRM. With the right technologies and processes, you can easily cut that noise in half.
My take: the more time you give sellers to sell, the more they sell 😉 From my personal but still limited experience with the product, I love the way Nimble seems to capture what’s current and relevant and then allow that you do the next thing right.’
Storyminers: How does Nimble overcome these challenges and fundamentally change the way CX teams engage with consumers?
Nimble: Nimble synchronizes individual emails, calendars and contacts as well as social networks into a shared team relationship manager that auto-generates dynamic social and business profiles for O365, Outlook and Gmail users everywhere people work.
Nimble delivers these social business insights within your work window so you can authentically engage on whatever channel your customers or prospects are using. Multi-channel support spans the Web (via Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Edge plug-ins); in popular Web applications (Microsoft Teams, Dynamics 365 and Skype) and in email, calendar and contacts, in the cloud with Office 365 or Gmail, on the desktop (Windows and Mac) and on mobile devices (iOS and soon on Android).
Using Nimble, customer-facing employees can authentically engage throughout the journey, from the time to contact is first identified to the time it becomes a repeat customer.
My take: knowing not only what you’ve done with someone online, but seeing what others on your team are doing with the company or contact is a brilliant feature . This way, one brand, regardless of how many people are in it, can act like and appear as one brand to customers. The left arm can finally know what the right arm is doing 😉
Storyminers: How much life does CRM have before it gets eclipsed with more multi-purpose and context-sensitive technologies (like Nimble)?
Nimble: In today’s over-connected, over-communicated world, it’s more important than ever to engage authentically. If you’re not listening and engaging with customers, prospects and influencers about their passions, you’re already dead.
Relationships may start on Twitter, where you can find areas of commonality, then switch over to LinkedIn, before moving to email, and ultimately to the calendar for an appointment or video call. If you’re doing it right, your relationship grows deeper, and you connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat as well.
Through these fluid connections, prospects and customers get to know you—not just your business persona—which is key, because the customer journey is largely driven by emotional connections. That transcends business and moves into what I call “the Five Fs”: Family. Friends, Food, Fun, and Frolicking. This is where relationships really solidify. The only way to maintain a real relationship with someone today is to stay top-of-mind, and you can’t do that with a monthly newsletter. You do that by adding value to their journey to become their trusted advisor. They will not only pick up the phone, they will bring their friends with them.
My take: Nimble is perfecting the bridge between professional and personal . We’re all humans. Finding the right human-to-human connection within a business context is something we can all use to move our businesses forward.
Storyminers: How do you see customer experience evolving over the next 10 years with AI, chatbots and new high-tech devices?
Nimble: I believe a social CRM that builds itself and delivers social business insights everywhere Siri may be in the offing, but it’s years away. Processes and systems become increasingly digitized and AI becomes more prominent, we’re focused on helping people be more human, authentic, and engaging when making connections online.
My take: Kool-Aid ® tastes good and I would like to see Nimble become an early adopter of machine learning features so that my way of working becomes more and more natural.
Nimble is a product that is born from an intense focus on creating value for others. By design, it enhances relationships and brings authenticity to the forefront. My first experience with the product was comfortable and natural. Knowing more about a person early on helps you connect in more meaningful ways! Knowing when your important contacts are active on a topic that fits your own interests is magically helpful. If your organization has all its points connected when it comes to communications, Nimble is sure to improve the customer experience!