The future of customer relationships depends more on context than transactions. This trend is accelerating, driven by the integration of social media into customer relationship management (CRM) and rapid gains in usability of CRM.
What is the future of CRM?
Better Integration of Customer Touch Points
Businesses are realising that you have got to sell the way customers want to buy. CRM projects that don’t integrate customer touch points are destined for failure. Global companies who carry out direct mail/email campaigns invite people to respond any way they like, be it via the company website, call centre, branch office etc. but wherever they come in, that information should be automated so it is shown in the CRM. You don’t want potential customers knowing things their account managers don’t know.
Vertical solutions are another trend. We are approaching the end of the one size fits all CRM market and entering an age of verticalisation and specialisation. There are different types of customers, different types of business models and selling strategies so the CRM software needs to support these different models. What you have is software companies developing a tool-set and letting users/resellers customise it for their industry.
In CRM, the most successful resellers reinvent the CRM application as a platform. They craft entirely new solutions on CRM that are instilled with their particular expertise in a vertical or a set of business processes that make CRM much more straightforward and easier to use. This innovation benefits business customers as the reseller is modifying the system to become a suitable commercial product and making CRM much more turnkey for the user.
At the end of the day, it isn’t about the particular CRM vendor or platform but more about the particular capabilities that a reseller has in their turnkey CRM offering. That’s a huge benefit to customers as they are now able to focus on picking the right reseller and their expertise to help their business versus being distracted and consumed with the nuts and bolts of hand-tailoring the CRM application to fit their needs.
Knowledge Management Systems
CRMs of the future should have more intelligent functionality to make them knowledge based management systems. For example, you could put a very powerful, functionally relevant view of the customer at your employee’s fingertips. We are already seeing that today with the ability to embed Google Maps, social feeds and the like in CRM. But think about how incredible it could be for CRM if you were able to do that type of embed with virtually any data source.
The internet has a vast array of information out there. People want systems that have intelligent APIs that pick up information from the web and add it to CRM. For instance a client tweets a problem with your service. How good would it be for your system to pick this up from your social feed and add to their record to let you know?
The future of CRM is bright. CRM will become more deeply ingrained as a business strategy for most companies. Technology will evolve while technical and organisational challenges are overcome. Much will change in the years ahead, but one thing is certain: CRM is a journey, not a destination.
If you want to learn more about CRM and find out if it is right for your business. Download the Essential Guide to CRM.