5zurmoThere are very few truths in life. According to Ben Franklin, "'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." But the Jack of all Trades died before email entered the mix. If he were around today, I am certain he would have something to say about it. I’m pretty sure Ben wouldn’t like email very much. Does anyone? How often do you hear a coworker say how thrilling it is to sift through a bloated inbox after a week in the Bahamas?

According to a study conducted by CSO Insights, 40% of sales representative’s time is spent interacting with customers. That leaves 60% - or 3 out of 5 business days –for dealing with … what exactly? Bloated Inboxes? All kinds of applications and administration? What kind of an impact could a better system have on people who are customer facing? These are some of the questions we were asking ourselves when we started to develop Zurmo Open Source CRM.

Internal Social CRM provides Collaborative Communication Tools

social1Internal Social CRM seemed to be the answer to all these questions. External Social CRM is about engaging with people outside the organization. We decided that the bigger issue that should be initially addressed with Zurmo was the need to give back customer-facing employees their lost time. Internal Social CRM is about collaborative communication tools provided within the app among users / employees. In Zurmo, this includes Social Feeds, Messages and elements of Gamification.

By using ourselves as guinea pigs, we took a hard look at the way we communicate internally as an organization. How much of our inbox clutter could be spared by using Social Conversations within Zurmo? Surprisingly, a lot. So much so that we decided to ban email and use Social Conversations for all internal communication.

For example, a suggestion that the Zurmo welcome screen should be beefed up resulted in one conversation with relevant participants, instead of generating half dozen + scattered emails. This conversation is condensed into one single item that our lead developer can quickly scan.

In the next phase, we plan to include a voting mechanism that will allow participants to indicate which idea/comment they like the most. Then highest voted ideas will show first, adding an element that is even more relevant than timing. This is a method already employed by external social platforms like Disqus. We use it on our project blog and we believe that it is a useful feature.

The nature of Social Conversations is that they are privileged. Users can be invited at any time when their input is needed. They can opt out when the conversation veers off into a direction outside of their interests. Or they can be booted out by the organizer if their presence is no longer appreciated.

Social Feed

social2The advantages of Social Conversations in terms of sensitive collaboration are quite clear. But it can get pretty stuffy behind closed doors. And let’s be honest – not too social. So how can people communicate in a method that is open to all? Where can we find a ladder to the free-speech soapbox dish in Zurmo and what does it do? The Social Feed is where ideas are born and every CRM user can sing like a canary.

Social Feeds in Zurmo allow users to sing about anything they’d like. Generally, people should use the Feed when they have an announcement to make that could be relevant to everyone, but may not merit an email or a conversation.

Leaving for the airport? Shout it out to everyone. Maybe someone at the office is heading there too and can share a cab. Not likely a piece of information that would be appreciated by 150 recipients, but no one is going to mind it making a brief appearance in the Feed.

particpantsAdditionally, the Social Feed can – and should – be utilized in reference to specific records. In the example shown here, a sales rep wants everyone to know that he is approaching a contract renewal with an important account. A link to the account record appears directly in his status update. People with whom he may not normally engage have the option to chime in to offer their two cents. If the plot thickens, a deeper conversation can be migrated over to the Conversations Module.


social3Gamification in Zurmo is what helps users collaborate. While Gamification is a much larger topic, we focus on one aspect, using Missions as a collaboration tool. Missions provide a way for employees to challenge one another in completing a task.

For example, a sales rep is challenging his coworkers to come up with a plan for getting to get the client to renew their contract. As this is a support related issue, someone from the support team will likely take it. It is a great opportunity for employees to take on an initiative, get recognized, and awarded. The beauty of Missions is that they can be open to anyone. Perhaps in this example, the aspiring intern working in customer support will accept the mission. In future iterations, we plan to add functionality that allows multiple people in a group/team to collaborate together in completing a Mission.

The bottom line

Our goal with Zurmo is to provide a platform where co-workers can exchange information in a timely and intuitive manner that frees up bandwidth that can be allocated towards engagement with customers. We encourage Zurmo users to do as much as possible within the application beyond the typical CRM use case. Ultimately this results in more effective ways to generate revenue, keep customers happy, and show real value to users who can surely find use of their newfound time. Zurmo is an agile work in progress that is constantly improving through each release.

Expect to see us continue with our goal of finessing effective collaboration.

Check out our blog to learn more and keep up to date.

By Stafford McKay, Director of Marketing Zurmo CRM - www.zurmo.com