CRM has empowered businesses to engage with customers in ways that could not have been imagined. Right from its inception, it has regularly come up with new features and developments – which has impressed the loyalists and silenced the critics. On-premise CRM, SaaS CRM, Mobile CRM, Social CRM, Vertical CRM – we have seen it all in these years.
And now as the year 2016 rolls out, we are back to the same question: ‘What’s Next?’
Creating ultimate customer experiences and building lasting, quality relationships is on the top of the mind of every business entrepreneur. And in the quest to achieve both these goals, business entrepreneurs are analyzing and predicting the trends for Customer Relationship Management in 2016.
Will there be an integration of CRM and IoT? Will more vendors come up in the new-age CRM category? Will on-premise CRMs cease to exist? Which CRM features will be most buzzed about in the year ahead?
Questions are several and most of them cannot be answered before we complete at least 2-3 months. But that doesn’t mean business entrepreneurs have to start 2016 with a blank slate. Based upon the last year’s events and current state-of-things, here is a snapshot of what is likely to be different in CRM world 2016:
1. Traditional CRMs will integrate with 3rd party applications to become all-in-one software platforms
2016 will see traditional CRMs ditch their standalone garb and transform into an integrated and comprehensive business management platform. Reason being the onset of a new category of CRMs called the New-Age CRMs. These CRMs function as all-in-one software platforms as they are integrated with a bunch of crucial third-party apps. Several Fortune 500 companies and hot startups have embraced new-age CRMs and now swear by the benefits.
Looking at the exceptional popularity these CRMs have gained in a short period of time, more and more traditional CRMs are expected to offer Apps and Add-ons for increased business productivity and collaboration.
Quoting the words of Katie Hollar (CRM expert at Capterra) published in a CIO article, – “It’s increasingly important that your CRM be able to seamlessly integrate with your ecommerce platform, your marketing automation software, your analytics software, your accounting system… the list goes on and on. Rather than spending hours downloading and uploading CSVs of data from one system to another, CRM users will demand that their provider build these native integrations with other platforms to make them more efficient. And if CRM vendors can’t keep up with the demand, users will switch systems, finding one that works better with their existing infrastructure.”
2. Horizontal CRMs will get replaced by vertical CRMs
In Jennifer Lonoff Schiff’s view – 2016 will see vertical CRMs turn the tables on traditional CRM solutions. This will primarily happen because businesses have realized over the course of time that vertical CRMs provide a greater level of expertise in comparison to generic CRM solutions. While generic CRMs are good at their job, they cannot suffice the specific challenges of any industry. Consequent of which, businesses belonging to Real-Estate, Finance, Health care, Life Sciences, Insurance, Retail, Media, Government, Manufacturing and Automotive sectors will look out for implementing industry-specific CRM solutions.
2015 has already seen some leading CRMs go deep in vertical markets and create industry editions for real estate, insurance, accountants and legal professionals. However, with a greater demand of industry-specific software solutions, experts expect more number of vendors to release vertical editions for their CRM products, this year.
3. SaaS CRMs will surpass on-premise CRM deployments
SaaS CRMs have grabbed the eyeballs of CRM buyers, right from the start. Benefits such as no hardware requirement, smoother implementation, zero maintenance costs and easy customization have attracted many business entrepreneurs to opt for it.
Quoting the words of Joanne Correia, research vice president at Gartner, – “SaaS CRM popularity is driven by organizations of all sizes seeking easier-to-deploy and faster-ROI alternatives to modernizing legacy systems, implementing new applications, or providing alternative complementary functionality.”
In one of its reports, Gartner has stated that SaaS accounted for almost 47 percent of total CRM software revenue in 2014 and a stronger demand for it will continue to grow in the upcoming years. So as 2016 rolls out, CRM industry experts anticipate a greater demand of SaaS CRM where in all probability it will surpass its on-premise rival and hold a larger slice of CRM pie.
4. Small business CRM vendors will grab market share
In spite of 200+ vendors, CRM market has been largely dominated by four to five selective sellers. As a result, most of the CRM vendors have never been able to grab the limelight in industry reports.
However, 2016 is likely to break this pattern. It is expected that the approaching months will see more new CRM vendors foraying into the CRM market share. The reason for this shift of change can be attributed to the small and medium-sized businesses.
In the last few years small businesses have followed the footsteps of their bigger rivals and implemented CRMs of the large vendors. However, these CRMs have done more harm than good to the small and medium-sized businesses. That is because these are enterprise CRMs that are chock-full of bloated features and functions. SMBs who have a few basic necessities have got bogged down with the intensity of these features and have failed to use the software effectively.
Consequent of which, SMBs now are looking for CRMs that are affordable, easy to use, and do a great job of serving the needs of small/midsize businesses. This is great news for many vendors who have specifically developed CRM products for small businesses but have failed to gain traction in the market.
5. CRMs that foster Customer Engagement will be preferred
Businesses (big or small) have realized that simply satisfying the customers at some level of interaction is no longer enough. It is essential to successfully engage with customers and provide exceptional experience at every stage of the journey beginning from Marketing to Sales and Customer Service.
In order to offer a successful engaging experience, businesses need to cut the inconsistent departmental views and present a consistent ‘face’ across all customer-facing channels. And this can only happen when they have one solution that takes care of all the customer-facing activities.
This is precisely why, 2016 will see majority of business entrepreneurs inclined towards developing CRM software solutions that involve Customer Engagement Management. These solutions will combine Sales, Marketing and Customer Service in one platform. This will empower businesses to tie together sales, marketing and support interactions; break down silos of information and better engage with the customer.
6. CRM data will be leveraged to improve customer experience
Big Data has been a buzzword in the year 2015. To realize greatest value out of it, businesses have concentrated on the first step i.e. collecting all pieces of information and analytics in the CRM. Having done that last year, they will now move on to the next and final step, i.e. analysis of the CRM data to derive insights out of it and deliver relevant customer experiences across the life cycle.
Businesses who successfully execute the second step will experience multiple benefits such as increased customer acquisition, reduced customer acquisition cost, higher cross-sell and upsell success rates and increased wallet share through targeted loyalty programs.