Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Key Points To Consider When Investing in Mobile CRM

This is how the New American Dictionary defines 'mobile' - not fixed in one position, easy to move and use in different places. What this also defines is your customer base – mobile; definitely not fixed in one position; easily moved between products and companies. As a whole your customers have come to expect that information about your products and services are available when they need it. Real time access is no longer “nice to have” it has become essential in reaching your customer. As your customers change cities and time zones, your CRM solution needs to be available around the clock and everywhere. In other words, Mobile CRM has become a necessity for successful salespersons.

Smartphone and tablet usage continues to grow
The number of smartphones in use, worldwide, broke the one billion mark in 2012. This represents 23% of the total world population! In the United States alone it is estimated that 81% of the population use some type of smartphone platform.

Media tablets, while not as strong as the smartphone market were estimated to reach 119 million by the fourth quarter of 2012. Newer products with updated capabilities and upgraded features will progressively impact  tablet sales. It is estimated that 90 million Americans will be using some type of tablet by the close of 2013.

As technology advances, consumers want a single device which has all the software, media tools and communication applications. For a business user, this one device should also facilitate quick and real-time access to their customer database. Whether they are traveling or in the bath, the information should be at their fingertips - customers don't want to be called back later or kept on hold! Mobile CRM ensures users have instant access to real-time customer updates, if a meeting in Dallas goes well, you'll know it even if you are in Melbourne along with details of follow up tasks and the latest status of the related opportunity.

Mobile CRM enhances performance
Mobile CRM solutions are a method for mobilizing your sales force and increase the efficacy of your office based staff through streamlined workflow, paperless workflow and real-time access to customer information. But more than streamlining your internal process, mobile CRM solutions also work to improve the customer experience. The ability of your field staff to review a customers buying trends or view the timelines for their last purchases make the selling and buying experience much more satisfactory.

The integration of account activity, sales tasks and contacts allow your sales force to provide a higher degree of personalization in customer service and support. The sales force is now in a position to follow up on last purchase satisfaction, to recommend in real time products which will enhance or complement prior purchases or to introduce new products based upon purchase history.

The mobile CRM solution also enables your sales force to make decisions based on the most up-to-date information available on a customer. Updates or alerts added to your office based CRM solution are accessible on your sales forces' mobile CRM solution, enabling them to access any and all documents or marketing materials required to meet customers’ expectations.

Following a sales call, your sales force can then update the office based CRM solution by entering their notes, sales reports and other relevant information into their mobile system, which in turn updates the office based CRM solution. This connectivity between the field and the office allows for seamless communication within the company’s many divisions.

While a mobile CRM solution may make your sales force feel less dependent on your home office staff, like any solution to any problem, Mobile CRM has its pros and cons. To ensure high user adoption and optimal collaborations between teams, these are some key issues that need serious consideration-
  • Real-time information - A primary advantage of a mobile CRM solution is that it allows changes to take effect immediately. No longer does your sales force need to make extensive entries when they return to the office or make a call to ask for updates. Mobile CRM allows for improved customer relationships by your sales force having the most recent information on both the customer and your product base, creating a more sustainable relationship for long term business growth.
  • Efficient activity management - A mobile CRM solution allows the management of schedules and calendars – keeping your sales staff in touch with other activities within the company without having to return to the office. Tasks and appointments can also be assigned to colleagues based on new developments to ensure effective follow-ups. 
When considering Mobile CRM for your teams, your organization should carefully evaluate the CRM vendor and ask themselves the following questions-
  • Is customer information secure? Security of your organization's proprietary data will remain as long as the security for mobile applications is as stringent as in-house applications. Also, records should only be visible to relevant users within the organization with pre-configured read/write permission based on their roles. 
  • Is information reliable and updated? The old adage of garbage in garbage out is familiar to anyone working with data. Reliability of your CRM solutions data will depend on the ability of your mobile CRM solution to communicate with your static solution. The ideal situation is that everyone be able to communicate the same information – i.e. inventory availability, customer history and other pertinent customer information. With a reliable in house CRM solution this should not be an issue, but the reliability of the information is truly based on the reliability of the information input.
  • Is 100% uptime guaranteed? Who hasn’t had a computer crash? System failure can be embarrassing to the sales representative in the field, but more detrimental to the company if a backup solution is not in place for your mobile CRM solution. Inconsistent uptime for users will lower user adoption.
  • Is the interface user friendly? The Mobile CRM might receive real-time updates and generate alerts to logged-in users, but, this information should be easily accessible to users. Also, records should be easy to create and update through a simple user interface with an option for administrators to customize page layouts on the basis of users' roles.
Conclusion
Mobility of your customers, their ability to access information, and the growing environment of smart applications require CRM solutions which keep pace. New features like 'offline access' will ensure users can view and update records without internet connectivity and sync with the online CRM solutions at a convenient time. For dynamic sales teams that require instant and reliable customer information on the go, Mobile CRM will ensure they can effectively focus on making sales and collaborate with global teams to increase win ratios.


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