CRM, "The game"

I've recently became a video game fan (yet again since I spent numerous hours playing Street Fighter 2 as a teenager). While playing Halo 3 on the Xbox 360 and navigating though the Xbox Live interface I realized how the same “contacts/relationships” model repeats itself all over again everywhere.

The first thing that came to my mind was…how do we leverage that? And yes, the obvious thought was to “profile” the user to sell it more stuff… but no, that is what most companies do and personally I hate it. (E.g. having a salesperson calling my home to tell me: “Hey, I read in your blog that you like video games, and I found that you have an Xbox live gamer tag and that you have played Halo 3 a thousand times in the last month…guess what, my company has a video game offer right now and would you like to buy. That is scary).

So my next thought was. What about the “fun” factor? Why is business software so “boring”? Think about it, when people talks about ERP, CRM, SCM, etc, you can hardly imaging someone making an association with “fun”. Yet most of the real world “relationships management” work happens in a social context where people are supposed to have fun. How many deals are closed while playing golf or having a dinner with an important client?

I’ve had similar conversations with colleagues at the MS CRM team in the past and we all seem to agree that people would be a lot more productive if they could have more fun while doing their work, and this implies having fun with the tools they use in their every day work…what if CRM was designed as a “game”?

You could:

  • Analyze the profile of each account/contact including their “special powers”
  • Blast records out instead of just delete them
  • Attach a ringtone that plays every time an important activity gets recorded for a given account
  • “Flip” through appointments
  • Create a new mission (lead follow up), assign soldiers to it (resources) and manage the battle. If the battle is won (a new account is created) the skill level of the resources is increased.
  • Pass “the ball” (a case), “score a goal” (solve the case), and watch the match results (service report).

It is not just about using different terms (although is an important step) but about making tools more fun to use. Of course the above are extreme examples but more subtle approaches can be used on LOB applications (e.g. functional animations, icons, sounds, themes, sticky notes) to make everyday work more enjoyable.