(This post originally appeared on Forbes)
This week cloud based customer service and sales management software maker Zendesk announced a new messaging solution to enhance its product line which, according to the company, brings together all of its applications’ capabilities, including messaging, into one package.
Using integrated tools like WhatsApp, the company promises to provide “connected conversational experiences across web, mobile, and social channels that work easily out-of-the-box with built in automation and the power to scale to support modern enterprise needs.” Its messaging solution “also offers advanced capabilities including proactive notifications, enabling specialized third-party bots, and allowing customers to transact directly within the conversation when browsing products, reserving seats, or making payments.”
Clearly this is a need. Even the company’s own research showed a 110 percent increase in the use of social messaging in 2020 and that 64 percent of consumers said that they have tried a new way to get in touch with customer service, with messaging and bots as the leading choices.
Messaging is a need and unfortunately CRM applications aren’t adequately addressing it. I know this because I have these challenges at my company. And so do my clients. I want to be able to email, call, text and message my contacts in my CRM system without leaving my CRM application. I want all of these messages stored in my CRM database and shared with others on my team. I want AI-driven workflows and automation that will identify potential problems and opportunities and allow me to set up automatic responses or at least get alerts for me to take action.
Other than email, I really don’t have that right now, and it’s frustrating. My company’s CRM application, which is a very popular CRM application, has – like so many of its competitors – a “marketplace” of 3rd party developers that provide tools to integrate my application other messaging tools and phone systems. But this model fails.
It fails because setting up the integration is oftentimes difficult, not user-friendly, inconsistent and unreliable. I have to work with multiple parties – often in different time zones and in broken English – to get the setup right and even then I’m frequently bounced out of my CRM application to another interface. All of these applications have quirks and undependable support.
Don’t believe me? Ask any organization about how they use their CRM with email, text messaging, instant/web/social messaging and phone calls and you’ll find that most are operating their systems on an island and without this integration.
That’s because since the beginning of time, CRM vendors have relied on their marketplace “partners” to provide these solutions. But because these messaging capabilities are so critical now to an organization’s customer service and sales operations I don’t believe a CRM vendor can pass the buck any longer.
My CRM system has its own email client which was developed and supported by the CRM vendor and it guess what? It works well! Why? Because they take responsibility for it. They support it. They own it. CRM vendors need to do the same with all other forms of messaging and communication. They must stop relying on outside partners and build these features internally. And then support them.
That seems to be what Zendesk is doing – or at least trying to do. That’s a positive sign.