Seth Solomons is leaving his global CMO post at Digitas to head a new CRM agency within Publicis' Vivaki unit. The agency, which will be based in New York with seven full-time employees and a small army of consultants, will be called CRM365.
CRM365 represents Publicis' attempt to grab a piece of the increasingly lucrative customer relations market. The agency's premier offering is a software suite that will allow companies to automate their interactions with consumers who are talking about them on the web.
"What the tool will enable us to do in an automated way is be able to read tweets or Facebook posts or interactions with a service center and immediately in real time activate a set of if-thens," said Solomons, "and that logic would then deliver content instantaneously."
To illustrate how the software would work, Solomons told the story of a former Digitas colleague who used Twitter to complain about his experience with a well-known rental car company. "Before the company he rented from could respond, their No. 1 competitor responded with a special offer," he said. "That was a stolen customer."
Clients who employ the CRM365 Intelligence Platform, as its called, wouldn't waste time seeking out such comments on a dashboard or slicing and dicing data to determine the best response to a particular consumer, Solomons said. As far as making sure customers don't resent interacting with software on Twitter, "it will be up to the brands we work with to make sure that every touch point is emblematic of the voice of the brand."
CRM365 represents a different approach for Publicis, which has stocked its digital agency roster by acquiring big names like Razorfish and Digitas. In order to ease the burdens of launching a startup, the agency will be partnering with software vendor Conversen.
For now, the agency claims no clients of its own. Existing Publicis clients seeking CRM help will naturally be steered toward the firm, but Solomon said that CRM365 is intended to stand on its own and not just as an add-on to Publicis' more established agencies. In a sign that Publicis plans to invest in the agency, the holding company has already announced plans to expand CRM365 to the U.K., France and Germany in 2012.
Solomon said that his duties as global CMO at Digitas would be divided among several existing employees.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
March 19, 2014