4 Important Recent CRM Developments

With the dynamics of world economy changing constantly and another global downturn remaining a significant threat, companies must more than ever remain streetwise. Within this tepid ecosystem, competition becomes rougher and staying on top of the trends allows companies to innovate without being left in the dust. Here are 4 important developments in Customer Relations Theory that firms would do well to pay attention to sailing through the slowdown:

1. Analysis and the Datarati
Hal Varion, Google’s high priest of economics, told Wired Magazine in 2009 that the economic aristocracy would become dominated by the ‘datarati’. Data, he argued, was ubiquitous and cheap; what was rare was the analytical ability to utilize it. “I keep saying that the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians” he opined later to the New York Times.

Indeed, analytical CRM is gaining status in the industry. Businesses are increasingly encouraging analysts to deal with clients directly, since their insights and assertions are ladled with the confidence of actually doing the math themselves. What is crucial is the ability to measure what analytical conclusions can benefit the customer the most, in particular the potent reach of social technologies, and relating them to customer value. Analytical CRM is also finding prominence as a method for modelling client behaviours, with data aggregation and the ability to use information effectively.

2. Social Media
The phenomenal leveraging power of social media continues to offer prime opportunities for firms aiming to gain new clientele and secure their existing ones. With the amplified reach and disproportionate impact of the voices of socially integrated clients, it is crucially important for new CRM strategies to tap into the conversation, using technologies to help determine and respond to the needs of the customer base. Traditional CRM systems dealing with the management of sales and customer life cycles no longer have sufficient penetration.

Strategically, CRM tactics will evolve to integrate the social consumer by collaborating, customize their internal processes, and synthesizing their technology with them. In addition to offering a more meaningful customer relationship, successful CRM social program can provide answers to abiding questions like: What do we say to our clients? How do we go about saying it? Where should we say it? When should we say it? Social media provides a number of spaces in which customers can express contentment or annoyance vis-à-vis a product, so it is critically important that firms not only pay attention to these spaces, but be able to respond with direct action, find ways to shape the conversation, and operationalize their sales teams to engage effectively.

That said, social media is still in its infancy, and little actual data exists on the efficacy of CRM systems ability to benefit firms’ social media efforts. Many solutions are still underdeveloped. But with the linking of mobile technology and other technology platforms with social media (via smartphones or iPad for example), CRM systems will likely find a fertile avenue to better facilitate interaction and engagement with customers. Further, CRM sales and service staff will probably invest in enhanced functionality of their CRM systems using these up-and-coming platforms.

3. Integration
Organizations are developing a holistic appreciation for their sales, service and marketing architecture, discarding partitioning perspectives that don’t pay enough attention to the relationship between these facets, and the characteristics each contribute to. Studies in CRM have indicated that this trend applies equally to the CRM industry and is quickly rising in importance, prompting vendors to re-evaluate their solutions commensurate with the new demand. Integration capability is becoming a key factor in evaluation of CRM solutions and is contributing a significant share in the CRM services business.

4. CRM Migrates to the Cloud
CRM enthusiasts are near universal in their claims that both provision and delivery methodologies for CRM are improving. After the explosion of social media, CRM has changed texture; from support-based systems with conventional support centers to support based in the cloud. The advantage lies in accommodating real-time communications for employees with clients on social platforms, search and knowledge web phenomena and mobile devices etc. Instead of contacting the laborious support center, customers are increasingly turning their questions to forums, Facebook statuses and Twitter feeds.

Accordingly, on-premise architectures without the flexibility to deal with this outpouring are likely to die out. For customer loyalty to be truly entrenched, customers must be met in their own avenues of expression. Firms which cannot respond to this conversation in the cloud will be averting their eyes from a huge amount of customer service chatter. Market growth depends upon meeting this need, and keeping pace with transformation.

The traditional concept of CRM solution was relatively straightforward: provide a receptacle for client data, a method for simple access, the ability to measure the on-goings of particular customers and the tendency to crank out a couple of reports. Whilst this is still the core of CRM, new features have become significantly more important in managing customers. This article examined four top developments that have spiced up the industry. First, has explored the potency of analytical CRM, suggesting that understanding data is crucial to the future. Second, it charted the rise of social media and stressed the importance of managing and learning from the conversation. Third, it investigated the growing success of integrated CRM. Finally, it suggested that the popularity of cloud migration was due to flexibility, and the more traditional and rigid CRM systems will lose market share going into 2012.