While CRM software (Customer Relationship Management) has been around for some time, allowing all businesses, regardless of size or orientation, to measure, capture and analyse data, manage sales pipelines, create, and measure marketing campaigns, and react to customer interactions, we should recognise also that in the constantly changing and evolving world of business it is no surprise that CRM is also subject to change and updating. In this paper we look at the current trends and reflect on their potential and impact of the current and future CRM marketplace.
The Evolving CRM Market
The Evolving CRM Market
As more and more businesses accept that a fully functioning CRM system is vital in both the building and the maintaining of long term customer relationships, it is also equally important we look to the future and potential evolution to ensure it continues to meet the purposes for which it was originally designed.
In order to present a balanced view, we will attempt to offer our insight, firstly into the CRM market today while offering a perception into what we believe will be our predictions for the future.
The CRM market today continues to grow exponentially year on year as it meets the increasing demands for an improved customer experience. As we add to this the fully recognised need to improve operational efficiency it is unsurprising the CRM software is showing such substantial growth. It is therefore interesting that market research in Europe suggests that while 91% of businesses with 10 or more employees utilise some form of CRM, of these 82% use it only as a sales tool, with less than 50% using it for calendar or marketing purposes. As in recent years circumstances has driven many into a home working situation, so CRM became an alternative to interact with customer bases, responding quickly to requests. Automated request management ensured all requests were dealt with through a tracking report and data capture for every interaction. Through auto routing by category to the best suited individual ensuring a response was timely and handled correctly first time.
Adding to this, customers are able to self-serve through a fully automated system for simple questions and information that does not require human interaction. More and more individuals prefer this online self-help option for immediate answers. Added to these other CRM features including on line forms and live chat, again meeting the need for increased efficiency, flexibility and speed at any time and any day, as demanded by customers in the 21st century.
The Future World
The Future World
As the CRM continues to grow with no sign of slowing down, we recognise we are now in a place and age where the lines of the physical and digital world blur. Further in this new world of technology, more and more customers and buyers are in the driving seat. Where previously vendors controlled all elements of the business direction, now customers provide influence through direct feedback, social media, and reviews on a variety of channels. These are often researched in detail by consumers before making a final decision, ensuring any organisation needs to deeply consider the way they carry out their business. It is uncontestably apparent therefore that customer experience is the key brand differentiator. Further it is also accepted that customer spending increases by up to 140% following a positive experience.
Business forums and associated articles refer repeatedly to AI and customer intelligence as the road to better customer experience. However we believe that the real future does not infer individual stand alone solutions, but rather the need for a single holistic experience, with not a single break in communication allowing the smooth flow of all digital and human actions interactions alike. Individuals now expect and demand that anyone you speak to in any department, know all the details of their account and history, including ongoing requests or conversations.
Today it is not uncommon for an organisation to have several CRM systems by department. These may include Sales, Marketing and Customer Services. Internally each may prefer their own tools, designed for specific needs. However, this disjointed system is unlikely to present an optimal customer experience. These often result in multiple approaches by the sales team and different agents, missing repeat sales opportunities, conflicting communications, inappropriate or unwanted advertising, and key information missing in different databases. In an updated single CRM system, all needs and desires for each department can be encompassed centrally removing any right-hand left-hand confusion.
In turn there are many other benefits with this centralised strategy. These include:
- Perfectly enhanced customer satisfaction levels through speed of response and action.
- Breaking departmental silo working
- Creating clear customer segregation with appropriate personalised strategies.
- Improve decision making and data analysis.
- A shared view of each customer.
- A central view for speedy access to all customer details, including needs and preferences.
As more and more customers integrate into a single centralised CRM, they see the automation of mundane tasks that frees up time for other creative tasks. With integration and flexibility enormously enhanced with all the benefits that would and could be expected.
As an acceptance that the future needs an integrated, connected and fluid response there can be little argument that this is not only a priority today, but also suggests a regular review of the working methodology is maintained to continually ensure that the CRM platform at the centre of the organisation continues to provide the best possible support available.