We’ve entered a new era that Forrester calls the age of the customer. The new power of customers means that a focus on the customer now matters more than any other strategic imperative.
To help clients thrive in this new era, I recently published the executive overview of Forrester’s Playbook for CRM. The CRM playbook outlines four steps for you to follow to transform customer-facing business processes to deliver differentiated customer experiences: 1) discover the value of CRM; 2) plan the right strategy; 3) act to execute the strategy with precision; and 4) optimize your results.
Despite high CRM solution adoption rates, as organizations strive to succeed in the age of the customer, business and IT professionals responsible for customer-facing processes struggle with how to define CRM strategies, re-engineer customer-facing business processes, acquire and deploy the appropriate supporting technologies, and lead and sustain the organizational changes required to make the transition to new ways of working. To make savvy CRM decisions, you must understand and navigate a number of important trends:
- Customer experience management moves beyond aspiration to strategy. More organizations are moving to define clear and actionable customer experience strategies that: 1) define the intended experience; 2) direct employee activities and decision-making; and 3) guide funding decisions and project prioritization. Increasingly, organizations are embracing customer experience management as a management discipline.
- Solutions converge to support cross-channel customer interactions. Forrester anticipates the convergence of technologies from varied sectors to form the core of customer experience management (CXM) solutions. Vendors from a diverse set of solution categories — from eCommerce platforms to content management, site search, personalization, and customer service — are expanding their capabilities to support the management and optimization of cross-touchpoint customer experiences.
- Organizations strive to domesticate untamed processes. More organizations are focusing on renovating poorly managed customer-facing processes, which remain, in many ways, the last frontiers of business process automation. Processes that touch customers and suffer from inefficiency and disconnects include: customer onboarding, order administration, loan processing, incident management, customer service, and investigations. As a result, solutions with a strong BPM backbone are attracting increased attention from organizations seeking to better manage fragmented customer interaction processes.
- Mobile applications empower customer-facing workers and consumers. Interest in mobile CRM solutions is red hot. Organizations have invested for more than a decade in traditional CRM solutions. However, mobile workers often still do not have the necessary information at hand to sell to and serve customers effectively when they are away from the office. Newer mobile device form factors (smartphones and tablets) have become ubiquitous, opening up new possibilities for improving employee productivity and interactions with customers. Virtually all CRM vendors now offer mobile solutions as extensions of their applications to fill this gap. But despite the growing maturity of mobile CRM solutions, business and IT leaders are still perplexed by the complexities of the different mobile options and architectures.
- Organizations use social customer engagement tactics more widely. More social CRM use cases spotlighting demonstrable business value are emerging. Forrester’s annual Groundswell Awards showcase hundreds examples of how organizations use social computing — for example, in market research, marketing communication, customer self-service, and product development.
- Big data moves to center stage. Application development and business intelligence professionals face the challenge that social-sourced customer intelligence can become a never-ending data gusher. As result, organizations are showing growing interest in big data. This emerging paradigm focuses on architecting analytic and transactional applications to harness petabytes of complex information flowing in from social media and other new and traditional sources.
- Agile implementation approaches take root. Companies want to become more flexible in their approach to managing interactions with customers. As result, they are increasingly adopting Agile project management and software development methodologies based on the principles of iterative development, where requirements evolve through collaboration within a self-organizing, cross-functional team. This desire for increased flexibility and agility has been a key driver of the rapid adoption of CRM software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions.
Download the executive overview of my CRM playbook for AD&D pros here.