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The structure of CRM teams is constantly in flux as the discipline evolves alongside the pace of technological changes. The last five years have led to a fundamental shift as companies look less for CRM marketers with expertise in copy and image development, and more for experts in analytics, coding and other technical skills.
Anna Moskal (Anna) – Technical CRM Manager at TIER Mobility (TIER), a fully climate-neutral micro-mobility company – has experienced this shift firsthand while transitioning from a traditional CRM role to one that is focused on empowering the CRM team to produce increasingly complex communications. In this article, Anna shares the differences between traditional and technical CRM, and how companies can best manage the transition to this new discipline.
- Technical vs Traditional CRM Roles
- Creating Technical CRM Roles
- Anna’s CRM Journey
- Final Thoughts
- Lessons Learned
Technical vs Traditional CRM Roles
The switch to a technical role wasn’t seamless for Anna because of the fundamental differences between technical CRM roles and the established traditional CRM roles. She explained the differences between the two succinctly.
1. The first is that tech CRM roles collaborate with a different set of stakeholders than traditional CRM. While you have fewer touchpoints with Brand or Marketing, you might work more with Data Science, BI and Engineering.
2. The second difference is that in a tech CRM role, there’s a high dependence on your ability to create solutions and remove blockers. We’re constantly confronted with new problems in the form of unique campaigns or new technologies that we’ve never seen before, and I don’t always have the answer, but what I developed was an understanding of how to find answers quickly.
3. The final difference lies in the adjustment required to shift from a role that is quite broad to one that is very focused. The focus gives you the opportunity to quickly build expertise but comes at the expense of breadth of knowledge. If someone wants to gain generalist expertise, then their manager needs to help them create the time and resources necessary to invest in these skills. It’s important to understand what your goal is and choose the role that fits your career plan.
One of the most interesting learnings that Anna shared was the dependency that exists between CRM Managers and Technical CRM Managers. She said, “because we don’t have as much exposure to campaign performance or insights from stakeholders, we have to trust the CRM Managers are requesting our resources in a responsible way. When we’re approached to build something, we look for the strategy or data that backs up the request to make sure we’re focusing on developing the right things.”
Creating Technical CRM Roles
Any company looking to integrate Technical CRM into their setup needs to consider the following points, as enumerated by Anna.
1. Hiring Correctly
Building a technical CRM discipline in your team starts with hiring, and I suggest looking for people that are not afraid of challenges, thrive in ambiguity and work well under pressure. The reality of the role is you’ll receive constant requests and may not have the answers right away, so you need people that can manage projects effectively and not get overwhelmed as they chase solutions. Hire people that can manage the challenges to make sure they aren’t a roadblock.
2. Nurturing a Teaching Mindset
You’re the first person to figure things out, and then you have to pass on this knowledge to the rest of the CRM team to make sure you aren’t asked the same questions repeatedly. While writing documentation is important, the best Tech CRM Managers are patient teachers; they understand that some coworkers will catch on quickly and will be keen to learn, while others won’t and might be resistant to learning. You have to be able to work with both, with the end goal of maturing the team to the point that they’re empowered to do things themselves.
3. Being Naturally Curious
Tech CRM is so new that it is open to interpretation and can be formed around the needs of the CRM team. However, you then need the Technical CRM Manager to be willing to pursue the needs of the team. I didn’t expect to bring coding to CRM in the form of in-app messages and emails, and even an understanding of UX and UI has helped immensely when building templates. Technical CRM Managers should naturally seek out the knowledge they need to succeed in the role because it’s not always clear what will or will not be required.
Anna’s CRM Journey
Anna started her career in CRM with an internship at Zalando SE before moving to a full-time role as a Junior CRM Manager at Urban Sports Club. “I was the only CRM team member for most of the time when we were migrating platforms. I was constantly thrown into discussions where I was lost and assigned tasks I had never done before. It was challenging, but I found that I was building confidence rapidly as I was alone and having to figure things out myself,” Anna explained.
Anna left Urban Sports Club to join TIER, the world’s leading shared micro-mobility provider that is present in 560+ cities and communities in 33 countries with a fleet of more than 300,000 vehicles. While she was hired to be a Junior Tech CRM Manager, her first months with TIER were spent supporting regional marketing efforts. As the team grew, she slowly focused on the role she was hired for; she was given accountability for maintaining TIER’s CRM platform of choice, Braze, and ensuring the larger CRM team had the tools and capabilities they needed to succeed in their roles.
Anna sees CRM becoming an increasingly important part of any modern organisation, pointing to the investment TIER has placed in CRM. “The team has grown exponentially since I was hired, and it’s because they recognise us as a very dependable resource for driving revenue and shifting customer behaviours”, she commented.
Towards the end of the conversation, sharing her advice for the readers, Anna said, “Women especially tend to doubt themselves when looking to apply for roles or asking for what they deserve. To them I say: just go for it. Don’t be scared, be bold and trust yourself. You always know more than you think, so apply for that job or ask for a promotion. You’ve earned it.”
|1||Communication between traditional and technical CRM roles is key; Technical CRM Managers need to trust that their co-workers are supporting their technical requests with insights and an informed strategy|
|2||Starting Technical CRM in your team begins with hiring the right people, focusing on individuals that love challenges, embrace uncertainty and can effectively share the knowledge they learn with the larger team|
|3||Technical CRM is still a new discipline, so organisations can be flexible with the individuals they hire and the mandate they give the team. Step back, see what your requirements are now and, in the future, and build the team accordingly|
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