Top 7 Trends and Innovations Driving CRM

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1 Top 7 Trends and Innovations Driving CRM

2 Top 7 Trends Driving CRM Welcome to the age of the customer. As consumers of all stripes continued to move marketing away from its traditional push model and into the realm of social media, branding, and relationship building the use of CRM as simply a system of record will be severely challenged. I think the most fundamental change is, every 20 years or so, the technology changes to such an extreme that we enter these different Ages -- the Age of Information, the Age of Technology, the Age of the Internet -- and where Forrester says we are today is in this Age of the Customer where customers really control the conversation and the relationship they have with businesses, says Kate Leggett, Forrester research s CRM analyst, in an interview with Inside-CRM.com. What this means is 10 years ago industry was in the driver s seat and they could engage with customer on their terms. Now the insides have been turned out. Taken from Leggett s February report last year, Navigate the Future of CRM In 2014, understanding the following seven trends will help CRM vendors and users better understand and meet the demands of this new savvy customer: No.1: Companies will strive to become experience-driven CRM initiatives are often and correctly criticized as focusing too much on siloed, internal business processes in marketing, sales, support, the web channel, or the call center, writes report author Kate Leggett. To counter this issue, Leggett sees more organizations adopting a set of sound, repeatable practices that lead to excellence. You can advance your organization s customer experience maturity by following a four-phased path: repair, elevate, optimize, and differentiate. Each phase requires employees to adopt new, increasingly more-sophisticated customer experience management practices that fix what s broken and prevent future problems. 2 of 9

3 No.2: Enterprises will embrace tools that create an outside-in perspective Mobile and social are making marketing and customer experience (CX) ecosystems complicated. To counter this challenge, Leggett suggests organizations align their customer experience ecosystems. That requires understanding customers deep needs, viewing interactions from the customer s perspective, and socializing customer insights, she writes writes. There are four keys to this strategy: Ethnography creating a descriptive account of social life and culture in a particular social system, based on observations of what people actually do; 1. Ethnography creating a descriptive account of social life and culture in a particular social system, based on observations of what people actually do; 2. Personas developing models of the key behaviors, attributes, motivations, and goals of a company s target customers; 3. Customer journey maps these documents visually illustrate a customer s processes, needs, and perceptions over the course of a relationship with a company; and 4. Ecosystem maps these are visual representations of the relationships between the employees, partners, processes, policies, and technologies that support a customer journey. No.3: The mobile mind shift will force CRM to evolve quickly Customers are experiencing a mobile mind shift: They expect that any desired information or service is available, on any appropriate device, in context, at their moment of need, writes Leggett. Because of 3 of 9

4 this, customers are increasingly short of patience with companies who cannot deliver. In 2014, mobile CRM solution support will continue to evolve rapidly heading into 2015 and beyond in order to meet these new demands. Technology vendors are rushing to provide solutions that work across all mobility technology platforms and support all device form factors such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, says Leggett. Look for solutions that write once, deploy on any device to begin emerging on the CRM landscape. No.4: Big Data will turn into customer insight Many firms struggle with the proliferation of data silos, an avalanche of big data, the demand for predictive analytics, and mobile platforms to support real-time digital customer experiences, writes Leggett. It s a hard complicated thing to do but, in 2014 and going into 2015, expect more organizations to ramp up efforts to turn big data into business insights and actionable knowledge. No.5: Social will connect the customer lifecycle Social media can help enterprises support customers across all stages of the customer life cycle, writes Leggett. Yet, nearly 10 years into the social media boom, many executives still strategize about social backwards; they pick technologies such as Facebook or Twitter first instead of focusing on the goals they want to accomplish. This will change as organizations take a more-strategic approach to capitalizing on social media. 4 of 9

5 No.6: Rapid adoption of cloud According to Forrester s Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2013, many enterprises have already replaced (17 percent) or plan to replace (11 percent) their on-premises CRM solutions with a SaaS alternative. As the age of the customer arrives Cloud technologies and services represent the fastest way for the business to reach new buyers and breathe new life into aging applications, observes Leggett. No.7: More companies will aspire to become agile enterprises Over time, customer systems of record and interaction have become inflexible, siloed, and now present a serious barrier to many fast-moving companies. Leggett expects more organizations will seek to understand and strengthen what Forrester calls the 10 dimensions of business agility: 1. Market responsiveness 2. Channel integration 3. Knowledge dissemination 4. Digital psychology 5. Change management 6. Business intelligence 7. Infrastructure elasticity 8. Process architecture 9. Software innovation and 10. Sourcing and supply chain 5 of 9

6 We re still in the very early days of the customer... but I have [kids] and they live their lives in a very different world than we do, says Leggett. It s very much an online instant gratification instant connection type of world. We are in this brand new world of digital engagement and the rules are different. Top 7 CRM Innovations Worth Having CRM for every industry is in a bit of a competitive upheaval as this extremely fragmented marketplace goes through a much-needed consolidation. You begin to pick up on what is truly innovative about a CRM offering versus what is a me, too copy from others, or simply lipstick on a pig, as they say. The crème is rising, and the best are fighting it out, adding feature after feature to get ahead of the pack. Here are seven of the more innovative features and why they might be must-haves in your next CRM purchase. No. 1: Flexible User Interface The ability to personalize the user experience is essential to strong user adoption. Personalization starts with the user interface (UI), from SugarCRM s ultraflexible screens to the new flat, tablet-centric look of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Flexibility includes other UI elements, as well, from integrated charts, threedimensional graphs, and drill-down reports to inline editing within list views. Calendar views always prove popular, as is the ability to create a new record quickly through an overlay on the current screen, the latter of which Zoho CRM nicely provides. 6 of 9

7 No. 2: Pervasive Access Mobile access is at the top of everyone s lists, with more than a quarter of all CRM transactions now being conducted on devices other than the office PC. Dedicated mobile applications that mirror the personalized user experience of a full client while leveraging the mobile platform are essential, as is the ability to access CRM over the Web on a variety of platforms and browsers without concern for performance or restricted functionality. Most of the major CRM players offer this, but make sure to ask for a feature comparison between interfaces to ensure parity. No. 3: Server-Side Mail and Address Synchronization When a user sets a rule to add e mails from a particular client to the CRM system, it s nice to have that flow occur automatically regardless of whether that user s Microsoft Outlook or other mail client is operating. Server-side agents ensure that a user s e mails and contacts are constantly synchronized between the mail system and the CRM application, making use of CRM that much more effortless. A few CRM providers offer this for Microsoft Exchange Server, but a company named Riva provides this solution between 12 different CRM platforms and the major e mail platforms, including Microsoft Office 365, IBM Lotus Notes, and Novell GroupWise. No. 4: Workflow, Approval, and Routing The ability to easily create rules and automate tasks based on your business workflows is critical to CRM adoption. Most major vendors now offer this ability, and some have been heavily investing in the 7 of 9

8 functionality to make it even more robust. The platform s ability to receive and route leads, and then notify the assigned salespeople by e mail is proving extremely valuable. It won t be too long before notification options even include sending texts or pop up alerts to mobile phones. Microsoft s new dialog processes are brilliant. No. 5: Social Selling No. Social integration was the hot topic a few years back, with SugarCRM leading the way. Salesforce. com quickly jumped into the mix, and recently Microsoft has stepped up its game, as well. Selecting a company and instantly seeing its Twitter timeline or tweets related to it is great functionality that most of the major vendors now provide in some fashion. The ability to follow particular CRM records, and then later view all of the activities related to that record is also now appearing. There s a suspicion that social listening will come about of a company or contact s Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts advance to social population, where a record is created or updated based on activity occurring on the social networks. 6: Geo-Mapping No. The ability to view all of salesperson s accounts on a map is an oft-requested feature. This ability is difficult to develop, however, which is why we don t see it in more platforms. Oracle and SAP are the leaders here, with SAP providing global positioning system support to locate nearby leads. 8 of 9

9 7: One-Click Integrations CRM vendors can t do it all, and thus we often see true innovation developed by their partners. Salesforce rules the day here, as its AppExchange continues to house some of the most groundbreaking add ons. The best part is that you can often install these apps in your Salesforce CRM option with just a click. A strong partner ecosystem with one-click integration is a great way to ensure that your CRM application will stay on the leading edge of the innovation curve. About the Authors: Top 7 Trends Driving CRM author Allen Bernard was the managing editor of CIOUpdate.com and numerous other technology websites and is now a freelance writer. Since 2000, Allen has written, assigned and edited thousands of articles that focus on intersection of technology and business. As well as content marketing and PR, he now writes for Ziff Davis B2B, CIO.com, the Economist Intelligence Unit and other high-quality publications. Originally from the Boston area Allen now calls Columbus, Ohio home. He can be reached at or gmail.com. Please follow him on Twitter on Google+ or on Linked In. Top 7 Innovation Worth Having author Chad Van Derrick has led scores of successful CRM implementations for global finance and professional services firms. He is managing director of Latitude 76, an international technology consulting firm that grows clients revenue through predictive technologies, and has consulted to such blue-chip companies as Fidelity Investments, Cushman & Wakefield, and IBM. He is a contributing writer to Studio B and tweets 9 of 9

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