In today’s marketplace, having a product or service to sell isn’t enough, being a step ahead of competitors ‘now’ wouldn’t hold good for long and companies are finding it difficult to differentiate themselves.
Apart from achieving acceptable organizational efficiencies, today the key to business success is in forging long-term relationships with customers. These are times for customer centric business environments in which customers can demand & receive what they want.
What is new?
The concepts of CRM have existed since buying and selling came into being. Then, what is this current buzz about CRM?
In recent times, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is looked at as a business strategy not just a software or technology or process used to operate business. A good CRM strategy helps organizations transform customer relationships and achieve extraordinary business value.
The idea at the centre of CRM can be stated in the following way: Every time a company and a customer interact, the company learns something about the customer. By capturing, sharing, analyzing and acting upon this information, companies can improve sales, plan productive interactions across teams and with customers, improve customer loyalty and manage individual customer profitability.
Though good it sounds, it is not easy to achieve, as CRM requires businesses to adopt a customer-centric business philosophy facilitated by right leadership and a culture to support the processes. Many businesses just fail to get all these pieces together. Moreover, creating and executing a CRM strategy is difficult as it typically involves numerous components and moving parts.
A Gartner research document describes, “A unified CRM strategy is absolutely critical to CRM success, but developing and implementing such a strategy is a complex, difficult and intensely political process.”
Selecting right CRM Technology
A right CRM technology is an enabler, vital to a successful implementation of CRM strategies and for achieving efficiencies that help companies reap larger gains.
Traditionally CRM was employed to lower the costs and increase profitability, and customers have benefited by receiving custom offers, product recommendations, timely resolutions to their complaints and other rewards of data sharing. But there have also been notable downsides with traditional CRM as it turns people into data and relationships into rules of engagement.
Though the fundamental requirements for CRM technology have been constant e.g. Customer Centre providing 360 degree view of customers, sales process automation, measuring qualitative and quantitative returns of a campaign & facilitate a quick turnaround on customer cases etc., Customer relationships aren’t just built on information.
According to Laura McLellan, a research vice president at Gartner (IT), CRM technology spending in the next five years will be directed more by chief marketing officers than chief information officers : a remarkable prediction?
Customer centric business environments are looking for CRM systems that integrate social media to continuously engage the customers and build trust.
CRM software stalwarts are listening and rapidly acquiring start-ups that enable businesses to manage the increasing number and variety of social media platforms better.
In May, Oracle (ORCL) bought Vitrue to help it publish and manage social media campaigns, and the company just announced the acquisition of Collective Intellect to help it monitor social chatter. Salesforce.com (CRM) purchased social media performance and sentiment tracking company Radian6 last year and now acquiring Buddy Media, a competitor to Vitrue .
Today, businesses require CRM as never before. A good mix of strategy, leadership and culture and a constant focus on business objectives would make CRM initiatives successful.
As “Customers don’t want to be just acquired and managed, but listened to and helped” there is an important emerging transition in the ways companies are evaluating and selecting CRM technology. And there is Social Media taking traditional CRM to next level by giving voice to customers.
C. A. Mohammed,
Senior CRM Consultant, CRMIT