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Future of CRM

Discussion in 'CRM, ILM, Chat, Desking, Emails, Phone, SMS' started by Alex Snyder, Aug 21, 2018.

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  1. Alex Snyder

    Alex Snyder
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    You know the biggest players: eLead, VinSolutions, DealerSocket, and Reynolds Contact Manager, but do you know when they were originally coded? I believe the newest one of that pack came to market in 2003. Do you remember 2003? I think we, as an industry, were finally beginning to accept that the Internet was not going to be a fad and maybe we should start taking these Internet leads more seriously. And the biggest CRM innovation was to have a web-based system. It was an easier time.

    Regardless of how much lipstick gets applied to the pig, or how many other technologies they acquire, there is no getting around age. Unlike people aging to become wiser, technology withers. It may get more feature-packed, but the original data model and technology backbones just get more and more stressed. Also, while aging, the original designers and engineers usually aren’t still working on the core product… if they’re even at the same company anymore. So, with age, the original design intent gets lost.

    We all watched Microsoft struggle with legacy tech like Windows 98 and then Windows XP. We will probably watch Apple lag without the Steve Jobs passion. It is absolute fact that thousands of dealers are stuck in a time warp with outdated CRM technology right now. The crappy part for us in the car business is that few modern options are in the marketplace yet.

    So, I want to take this opportunity to write about what I think a CRM in 2020 could be.

    First off, it will be less expensive to host. Thanks to Amazon Web Services (yes, the one and the same Amazon you shop on) there is little need to build the expansive IT infrastructures that we all had to invest in not too long ago. Costs will be focused on integrations where dealers are being insanely taken advantage of. I’ll have to write more on that another time.

    Second is SAAS (Software As A Service) examples do exist and are easy to follow. Very few automotive solutions truly use a SAAS model because they’re tied to legacy technology. To make the definition of what SAAS is simple: just assume that you could handle 99% of the configurations, setups, and customizations you seek anytime you want. The only time you’d need to call support is if you don’t know how to do something or the product is broken.

    Support can be proactive. So many technologies incorporate tracking services that alert when something goes wrong. Think of Google Analytics Events that are already baked in to notify your CRM company when something didn’t work for you. Your CRM support people would call you asking if you need a hand with your exact issue instead of you being put on hold and going through all the explanation time wasting.

    The UI (User Interface)/UX (User Experience) is probably the most important part of getting the sales and service staff to use the CRM daily. Well, we all know how strong that has been to date. A 20 year refresher is going to be quite welcome. This is where companies truly differentiate themselves.

    Digital Retailing is a term I loathe because it has been incredibly abused. It also doesn’t really exist yet, so it is just a marketing term or a product name. In my opinion it will never exist and we should be thinking more about how to just move our daily in-store process online while mending the daily in-store process to better fit what the customer wants. I also don’t believe this is achievable without a technology to drive it. So, let’s say that “digital retailing process” will be a part of the future CRM to help achieve a cohesive online and offline experience.

    Mobile is half the battle. All the CRMs mentioned above were originally developed at a time when early technology adopters were discovering their favorite Blackberry keyboard. Email was finally becoming something one could do on the road. A mobile website….HA! And WTF was an app? To say the current options weren’t written for mobile is an understatement. Even the bolt-on mobile apps are clunky representations of that understatement. The future CRM will acknowledge that 50% of the time people are using it from a smartphone and 50% of the time the CRM is being used on a device with a higher resolution. It doesn’t have to be an app.

    Process plans are complex and unnecessary. OMG, if I could get the years of my life back that I put into building out email automation and task creation in CRMs… including the time spent designing them in the CRM I helped build. So much time is put into these things that consultants sell themselves just on this alone to car dealers. It is time for these things to die. Between the data, the fact that this industry still works customers the same way it did in 1850, and basic artificial intelligence the future CRM can make process plans with only the smallest amount of dealer input (SAAS input that is). This is also a place where future CRM companies can differentiate themselves.

    Those are just a few of the pillars I see future CRMs being built on, but I saved the biggest pillar for last: there is no CRM. To continue on this path of the CRM existing as its own platform is ludicrous. Customer Relationship Management should exist in all your technologies. When you change the price on a car you are communicating with a customer. When you put a special on your website you are communicating with a customer. When you enter MSO information into the DMS you are setting the stage for a new customer journey. The only reason we think we are only working with a customer in our CRM is because these technology gardens have walled themselves off to short-sighted thinking in the pursuit of winning a quick dollar. With the right people at the helm, the future CRM solution won’t just be bound to CRM.

    Read the whole post here.
     
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  3. C Dorman

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    Which system in automotive is going to dominate? DMS or CRM? The inability to sync data between the two is the biggest obstacle to CRM development. So long as dealers use a DMS to print the purchase contracts, there will be a problem. We don't need two systems...
     
  4. Alex Snyder

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    I agree. The problem was created when CRMs, of the past, modeled their own data structures the same way the DMS did. They purposely built their systems to be dependent on DMSs. I'm pointing the finger at all the systems developed in the 1990s. Now the industry thinks that's how things should be.

    I think the two systems can coexist, but there is no need for as many customer-facing roles to interface with the DMS. The DMS should just produce the accounting and the "CRM-like" system can produce all the reporting necessary to manage staff and inventory.

    I don't care whether a DMS company adopts CRM functionality or a CRM solution comes out with DMS features as long as we get to the point where we can divorce 1980s tech from our daily lives. Those CDK and ReyRey boat anchors are dragging an entire industry now.
     
  5. C Dorman

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    Who's going to break the log jam Alex? All of the established players have a proven track record of sucking at developing software. They all basically grew through acquisition and manage their products like cash cows. Even if a new competitor emerged, one of the old guard would just buy them and the status quo would continue. Salesforce is the leading CRM system outside of automotive, but given their current user license fees, developing an automotive version would be cost prohibitive. So unless something drastic happens, we're going to be stuck with what we have for the foreseeable future.
     
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  6. Alex Snyder

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    You sound defeated Chip. I hear where you're coming from, but I also have faith.

    Those same CRM systems that set this stage came about in a time when things looked like this. CoBalt was the king of websites, ADP & Reynolds bought and shelved things, etc, etc. Dealertrack, vAuto, Dealer.com, VinSolutions, eLead, DealerSocket and many others grew out of this period. The needle was moved by small startups before.
     
  7. john.quinn

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    How does new, cool, fantastic technology reach critical mass against the behemoths?

    I have a FANTASTIC idea for a new cellphone... but what's the point there?

    I can remember a time when iMagic CRM was NEW, cool, good tech, hip... right? (Right??) Although they may be "newer" than many mentioned on this list above, they stayed the course... to the point where they are barely relevant today. (Right??)

    And I do understand some of the specific "eccentricities" associated with that particular example, but...

    In this age of "if you're not growing, you're going backward," how does Mom & Pop reach critical mass?

    Full disclosure: I really wish Mom & Pop was the goal. I've NEVER seen better than small, personal, "intimate," one-to-one -- impossible to have the needed relationships at "considered" scale. No one has ever been able to answer this simple question: How much is enough?
     
  8. Baron Ringler

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    I was with Cobalt (now CDK) in 1998 when they bought Prospector, and their system now is virtually identical (and it was really bad then!). I am waiting for a company, ANY company, to finally create a full-fledged and comprehensive CRM that also includes features that you find in AutoAlert, X-treme, or Deal Activator. I know e-Leads is trying, but it's still very rudimentary. I've always been confused as to why no one has ever done that. Right now you have to purchase and maintain two different systems, and along with the coinciding inherent costs, it's just not user friendly. I've always wondered why AutoAlert hasn't done that.

    The first company to build a comprehensive suite (phone tracking, CRM, equity and service miner, online chat, etc.) will make a fortune AND hurt their competitors badly. I can almost guarantee that anyone who builds such a thing, as long as it's reliable and quality, will own the market and would instantly pull in the larger dealer groups. I'm fairly certain the reason Cox hasn't done it (integrating Arkona, VIN, Dealer.com, and Deal Activator) is that they can charge more ala carte, but it would be a good chance for someone to break the market
     
  9. C Dorman

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    Not defeated Alex, just realistic. We're still using ADF. If asking for our systems to pull data via API is to much to ask for, what gives you hope anything major is going to happen in the next 5 to 10 years?
     
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  10. john.quinn

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    I respectively have to disagree here... are there actually CRM's who DO NOT have the basic features mentioned above today?

    Building features is easy! Building features that streamline existing, sometime intricate processes is a completely different story.

    Features that do not seamlessly integrate with the accounting system are quickly tossed-aside. Features that add to an already cluttered desktop are quickly discarded.

    I have a small bit of experience in this arena -- here's another truth: talk to 10 dealers about their 10 absolute MUST HAVE features, and you will certainly end-up with a list of 100 features. And these 100 different features will have to work for 100 different processes.... and you start to get the most basic inkling of why the marketplace is so differentiated -- absolutely no such thing as One Size Fits All.

    Now... build something so that your customers are using the same set of tools as your staff... my ears perk-up a bit :)
     
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  11. C Dorman

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    John, sadly, dealers don't know what they want because they don't know what they should be doing or what's even possible beyond a few buzzwords. Even worse, most new technology discussions regress to asserting authority and social standing than anything beneficial.

    Asking dealers for their must have features is one of the main problems. I have yet to meet an Owner or GM that has gone through any real CRM or DMS training. And onsite training doesn't count. There are too many distractions inside a dealership. I mean real, honest to goodness training for at least 5 days to an Admin level offsite. And when you combine the lack of knowledge and expertise with CRM and DMS systems with similar gaps in understanding of digital marketing, you end up with the state most dealerships are in now.

    My last dealership purchased what everybody in management thought was state of the art technology. When I asked about reports, I was pointed to all the wonderful "Custom" reports. They were garbage. I was told that it took a week to two weeks to get a new report or anything changed on an existing report. Long story short, our "state of the art" DMS was using Crystal Reports driven by SQL. Admittedly I had to blow the dust off of some of my old skills, but at least I was able to get the data I needed and I was able to help our CFO clean up some messes. With the exception of the CFO, there was nobody in the dealership who really understood the data in either the CRM or the DMS, its quality, how it was gathered or how a report was generated and how that might affect the accuracy of the report.
     

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