To Put Customers First, Put CRM First + Other EC18 Takeaways

By CafeX - March 22, 2018

Enterprise Connect 2018 featured many innovations in UC & CX, with a focus on mobile & web apps, omnichannel engagement via CRM & team collaboration.

When somebody mentions Orlando, Florida, one tends to think of fun in the sun and theme park thrills at Disney, Universal, etc. But last week, Enterprise Connect 2018 stole the show as 120 companies in unified communications, contact center technology and team collaboration convened to demonstrate that innovation is alive and well. The biggest takeaway was that, now more than ever, delivering the best customer experience is a not just a differentiator but an absolute requirement for both B2B & B2C enterprises to succeed.

The old adage that “the customer is always right” may be arguable but what is undeniable is that providing customers the ability to contact you via whatever channel they prefer and providing employees with complete context makes for a win-win. And, while there were 3 distinct tracks for the many sessions at #EC18 - unified communications & collaboration, contact center & customer experience, and team collaboration - the underlying theme of the show as a whole was that customers come first - whether internal or external. This concept, of course, is not new. But, what was definitely reinforced is that tech decisions need to be driven by choosing solutions that best support customer relationships end-to-end, i.e. enabling both team alignment and buyer engagement. (See all the keynote and general session videos from Enterprise Connect 2018 here.)

In a perfect world, all customer interactions are synced with all related contact info and data - empowering sales and service reps to have visibility into any individual’s and/or any account’s entire history. More often than not, however, disparate divisions and departments within enterprises operate in silos and the syncing of customer data across platforms is an eventuality, not an up-front requirement. The latchkey is to plan for convergence - from the outset - and implement a customer relationship management (CRM) system with forward-compatibility that will support these cross-functional data-sharing needs.

Yet, the more typical real world scenario is that one group in an organization drives the adoption of a given CRM platform - generally Sales, sometimes Service, and less often, Marketing or IT - though both of those teams ultimately become involved during or after the implementation. As a result, peer groups and their requirements are “late to the party” and the work of becoming a truly integrated enterprise involves a lot of time, resources, and often third-party add-ins and/or custom development to sync customer data & align an organization around the customer.

As Sheila McGee-Smith - a perennial Enterprise Connect presenter and prominent communications industry analyst - demonstrates in her white paper CRM First: Laying the Groundwork for Outcome Focused Customer Engagement, businesses which approach customer data with a primary goal of centralization pave the way for “customers [to] enjoy consistent and contextual experiences across all contact methods.”

Just before EC18, CaféX was listed by TechTarget as 1 of 5 vendors showcasing UC innovations at the event. A few days later, we announced our new release of Live Assist for Microsoft Dynamics 365 - the preferred omnichannel solution, co-developed with Microsoft specifically for Dynamics 365. If you and your organization are already using, or are evaluating Dynamics 365 for CRM, but are wrestling with how to seamlessly integrate your communication channels and enhance the customer experience, visit or contact us.