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Staying In Contact The Smart Way

Staying In Contact The Smart Way

Staying In Contact The Smart Way

Rawn Shah, CONTRIBUTOR Why is contact management too much of a pain to keep up? Frankly speaking, no one likes living in their contact or customer relationship management (CRM) system, even if their job demands this. Yet, most of us still need to lookup information about others regularly. The trouble is that these systems are often limited in when or where you can use them, and even more trouble in keeping such records up to date. It would be an enormous user benefit if this information could assemble itself. After all, isn’t there enough out there on the internet? What if it could? One of the simplest and still most powerful actions in user interfaces is the rollover. On most web browsers today, simply holding your mouse pointer over an active object can show a description (if it is provided)—linked text default shows the URL behind the link or a description, if provided. Similarly, other objects like videos, images and so on can do the same. Also in the same vein, is to click on text and have some info or action to appear. Some sites use layered information to pop up in bubbles if you do so. You may have seen it on Apple computers: a click on a word can bring up a dictionary description. The design is simple enough, but it has not been applied as simply and thoroughly as I have seen in Nimble, a cloud-based SocialCRM system for small and medium business. In their latest announcement, Nimble has released their Smart Contacts app for web browsers and mobile devices. You can now rollover-lookup anyone or any company, search across the web for any records related to that identity and build a profile. If you already know the person, it pulls together the existing CRM record. If you don’t, you can save that identity with a single click. For example, Figure 1 shows how the widget (on the right edge) pulled together the complete public details on an executive based on only their Twitter identity. As a sales tool, this radically simplifies the amount of searches a salesperson has to perform to learn more about any prospect.

Nimble-Widget

Fig. 1. The Nimble widget for SocialCRM appears on the right edge (source: Nimble) This works on any bit of text, not just an existing social site or a hyperlinked name to your existing CRM records. You simply click on the word, or hover over the text name you are interested in, and the profile appears in the Nimble widget window. This is instant access to records, wherever you are, whatever software, system or web page you are looking at. You can also update the information in the widget just as easily. This achieves several things. Sales people and CRM users no longer have to live in their CRM, or keep it open all the time. If you are an email user, it can help you look up profiles on any of the names attached to a message. It can be in the header, or just written in the body of the message. More so, there is no need to think about if the site or software is integrated with your company CRM to keep track. Obviously, it would require you to use Nimble’s software as the CRM, but there simply isn’t a need to integrate each new company site, or web app that IT deploys. It makes the life of IT departments easier—actually with this cloud model, it makes the IT department irrelevant. As a social CRM system, it builds profiles using a combination of public social information, or if you have your social profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) linked, the data of your connections or can search through your social profile. So, when I search on any name, it can examine Twitter, LinkedIn, my email and other sites to build an aggregate of all the data available to me about the person. Plus, it also shows each interaction I have had with the person. Beyond, that if anyone from company is also part of the system and chooses to share, you can also see whom from your company may know or has communicated with the target person. When looking up companies, Nimble also brings in corporate information from Angel List and other public databases. From the company profile (see Figure 2), you can see fields such as the number of employees, industry, revenues, headquarters location and other such information.

Nimble-Widget-2

Fig. 2. Looking up a profile of an organization shows different info than people Aggregated profiles are not new. I wrote about them as a model in my 2010 book,Social Networking for Business. But what strikes me is the super simplicity of the Nimble widget in being able to do these lookups whenever and wherever you want. At one time, sales, marketing, support and service roles were the primary ones to work with customers. But today, this is a possible task for practically anyone in the organization. Companies are applying the power of networks to reach beyond their traditional channels. To do so, we need a system as simple yet powerful as what Nimble has created so that any member of your organization can work with your ecosystem of customers, partners and suppliers. Rawn Shah is Director of Rising Edge, an independent consultancy. Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.