The world of CRM is growing. In the past, businesses have placed a big focus on the “Management” portion of CRM but have somewhat neglected the “Customer Relationship” end. However, 2013 seems to be the year that companies plan on growing their customer base, and increasing revenues. CEO’s are no longer just living in the present; they are becoming forward thinkers and discovering new ways to utilize CRM tools. As a result, companies are demanding much more in terms of the capabilities offered by CRM applications.
Several new CRM trends have emerged as a result of the shift towards a more customer oriented business model.
Mobile CRM is on the rise
With the advancements made in mobile technology, the expectation for convenient applications has grown exponentially. The ability to integrate mobile technology with CRM offers the responsiveness and convenience that customers have grown to expect. Mobile CRM benefits both customers and businesses. Companies that use mobile CRM tools will be able to respond quicker to new developments, have access to their customer database on the go, and provide a higher level of service.
For the customers, mobile CRM could mean an easier way to relay feedback, or establish a quicker form of communication to update their contact information and other important data.
Mobile CRM will also be aided by the current bring your own device (BYOD) trend. Many companies already have BYOD policies in place, so incorporating a CRM app is not a difficult task. CRM involves all levels of a company, both back and front office. Mobile CRM ensures that all employees share a common data store even if they aren’t in an office.
Taking CRM to the cloud
Another emerging trend in CRM is cloud based or hosted CRM tools. Instead of forcing companies to store their own customer databases on local servers, CRM tools are allowing the ability to access all of their stored information on the cloud. Hosted CRM tools allow companies to securely store all of their information, or simply use it as a backup when needed.
While the advantages of cloud based CRM extend to businesses of any size, companies with multiple locations can benefit immensely by using the cloud. Customers may purchase from several different locations, so cloud CRM allows the company to store their complete order history in one location.
A challenge that will have to be addressed with cloud CRM tools is continuity. If a cloud CRM provider goes out of business or unexpectedly shuts down, their users could potentially have a major issue on their hands.
Expanding data sources
The director of Marketing and Social Network Management for GreenRope, Alessandra Ceresa, told Customer Think , “The most significant trend to watch in CRM is integration of personal data and every possible connection point between a company and its customers. Being able to collect and organize information about email, social media, events, projects, tickets, surveys, website visits, conversions, etc. is the holy grail of CRM – if you can do that, you provide salespeople with the information they need to close deals more effectively.”
The idea is that companies need to gather information from as many sources as possible to get a complete view of customer activities. Quite simply, the more information that businesses have about customers, the more personalized of an experience they can provide. One area in particular that will see deeper integration into CRM is social media. Tracking Facebook status updates, tweets, and LinkedIn postings from prospects and current customers provides invaluable insight for salespeople.
Until recently, companies have relied on manually tracking social media engagement or using a completely separate application such as Hoot Suite for social media CRM. We will start to see this functionality integrated as a standard feature for CRM tools in coming years.
CRM needs to be orchestrated company wide
Jon Ferrara, the CEO of Nimble, stated, “The most significant trend to watch for in CRM for the next 5 years will be that CRM will finally move beyond the beachhead of sales and marketing team adoption in businesses to the rest of the customer facing departments.” CRM has long been looked at as the task of just the marketing or sales department. However, in order to achieve success with CRM, every level of the company needs to be involved.
Changes involving customer desires and needs effect entire organizations, not just a couple of departments. Mobile and cloud based CRM are making it easier for companies to work cohesively on CRM efforts, but ultimately it is up to companies to ensure everyone is involved.
Predicting customer behavior instead of analyzing
CRM tools are becoming more advanced than ever. According to Jen Evans of Atom Agents , “the next big trend in CRM is going to be understanding, mapping, and aligning to customer digital behavior.” Right now, CRM is primarily used to analyze customer behavior and improve the buying process. However, Evans believes that the future of CRM is in using business intelligence (BI) to actually predict the behavior of customers.
In order to achieve this feat, companies would need a significant amount of information about each customer. With data gathered through the company’s database, social media, and offered voluntarily by customers, predictive analytics is a possibility for the near future.
The human aspect
All the BI in the world is useless if companies fail to utilize it properly. Retaining and attracting new customers will ultimately come down to the people involved, not the tools being used. The sales team, customer service, and other customer facing departments will be the ones with the greatest effect on revenue growth and CRM.