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Imagine for a moment a local council was represented by human anatomy. The heart could be assigned to the roads and the water infrastructure, the lungs could be the lush parks, gardens or bushland, the strong arms and legs representing the public servants that make it all happen, and the feet, the managers and leaders that move and point us in the right direction.
Another critical part of the body would be the Customer Services department… these folks would be or as a department, contain all the senses. Customer Service, or anyone who is customer facing will get to hear, touch, see and smell everything – just not sure they taste everything however! And just the way nerves traverse our whole body, the people in these roles provide vital feedback to Council, hundreds if not thousands of times a day. How good could it be if we could gather that sensory type data in real time?
The Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool is the system that enables Councils to manage all these communications (senses) both outwardly and inwardly, and almost all staff will have a touch point or an input at some level to that system. Integration is obviously the lifeblood for any CRM. The links between CRM required to many other Council solutions including the asset management, rating, regulatory, document management, financials, and spatial systems are critical.
What we have seen
It is interesting to note only a relatively small number of shifts or changes in the Local Government CRM marketspace.
In the not so recent past, Councils were implementing customer request solutions that were essentially only required to manage those customer requests. This was managed either at the Council’s front desk, or via an incoming phone call, post and e-mail. It was general functionality that the providers of Property Solutions for Councils were able to supply. However, one of the shifts observed is that Councils are now moving towards more comprehensive Customer Relationship Management Strategy often referred to as Customer Experience (CX) Strategy. That means a new view on each stakeholder interaction, new software, people training, vital change management alongside the software integration. This shift is being expedited as;
Best of Breed CRM
To achieve all this, several Councils have moved towards best of breed CRM solutions in conjunction with their ERPs other functions. In a market where movement towards best of breed is not predominate, we have seen some real movement in demand in that direction, particularly in the larger Councils. This trend was most possibly started by several large Councils who decided to use the Verint Community Engagement solution several years ago.
There has been a recent trend by some Councils to consider or adopt Salesforce. In 2017, Salesforce was not featuring on Australian Councils CRM options lists. The new customer view by Councils has impacted re-sellers have added intellectual property that makes this traditional sales-based CRM, more relevant to Councils. One reseller that has created interest is Ennovative. This solution provider appears to have been able to provide good results to several Councils including Tea Tree Gully in South Australia. IT Vision are now also partnering with Ennovative to provide their CRM solution for Councils who want that dedicated CRM experience. This is a major shift in the available functionality for smaller Councils.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM has developed a reasonable footprint, although it isn’t growing at a rapid pace. Merit is also a solution that has been around for a while and is more of a customer request system, but they have a solid user base that remains reasonably constant.
All of the ERP vendors are looking at strengthening their CRM solutions to meet the growing CRM requirement of Councils. This is to ensure that they remain relevant. Civica have been working on their CRM functionality long before they started development of the Altitude solution. TechnologyOne have been upgrading their solution to give field workers more flexibility, and Infor are adding more functionality to their ePathway suite, whilst working on remote worker functionality. Datacom have also been leading implementations with CRM functionality.
What are the take-aways?
If you are looking to enhance your CRM solution either through upgrade or procurement, there are several considerations. The key is truly understanding your requirements, your current state and your desired future state in order to end up at the best solution for your organisation. The decision on whether you use the CRM solution provided by your ERP provider or a best of breed solution will need to be assessed on some questions;
The CRM is a key component of Digital Transformation and transformation is a major initiative for most Councils. Transformation fits into and must be looked at as a part of the broader ICT Strategic Plan, but it may be a priority if Councils want to improve their relationship with the community to invest in CRM. There are considerable opportunities that come from such a shift and most certainly the Council may gain more sensory insight from making better decisions in the long run.
Strategic Directions has significant research which will assist any Council or organisations either thinking about or underway in their CRM journey. Reach out if you want to further understand considerations, options or next steps.