Where is the road taking modern customer relationship management? CeBIT 2016 will see this question dealt with in more detail than ever before. Almost every player in the CRM market will appear at the world’s most important digital business trade fair this year – a first for this format!
Customer relationship management, or CRM, is one of the biggest management trends of all – and in a constant state of flux. The CRM market continues to grow at a tremendous rate, and the industry has major changes in store during the next few years. As the market steadily evolves, the demands on CRM solutions increase as well.
Individualisation, mobility and digitisation – these megatrends, which will be found throughout the business world during the next few years, are also key to the projected development of CRM.
Expectations on the CRM of the future are extensive and varied. But the good news is that they can be met. Many providers already have portfolios with comprehensive packages that fully equip businesses to cope with the requirements they will face in the years ahead.
The work of building and maintaining customer relationships has long since involved more than just the sales and customer service teams. CRM must be considered and implemented holistically, from HR management and management control through to the supply chain.
In the past, companies have primarily focused on 360-degree views of their customers. Traditional CRM systems are perfectly designed to collect every piece of information about a customer and communications with them, and to use that information to retain and nurture existing customers. Now, however, the term “xRM” is regularly cropping up in the CRM sector. Derived from mathematical use as an unknown variable, the x stands for “any”. A company with an xRM system can organise, manage and analyse not only their customers, but also other target groups such as partners, employees, suppliers and competitors.
It is far from a new discovery that social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIN, YouTube and Twitter can be used as advertising platforms. However, few companies have yet taken advantage of the excellent potential for incorporating these networks into a CRM strategy. Social network users share a great deal about themselves and their interests. This information can be integrated automatically into CRM systems via interfaces with major networks, and made available in real time. Communication with customers becomes more efficient as a result.
Enquiries must be dealt with as quickly as possible, in order to increase customer satisfaction. This is only possible if sales staff – especially those who work in the field – can access the CRM system at any time and from anywhere. CRM solutions must therefore be available for mobile devices, as mobile CRM has long since become a requirement for successful long-term business relationships. A study by Innoppl Technologies revealed that sales targets were met by 65% of representatives who used mobile CRM. For those who did not use mobile CRM, that figure was just 22%.
The now ubiquitous cloud also comes into play here. Although just 12% of companies used cloud-based CRM systems in 2009, by 2014 this had risen to 87%. This is down to the increasing popularity and unquestioned expectation of being able to access a CRM system from different locations and devices. There is now a wide choice of web-based CRM software as providers adapt to the growing demand.
Despite all the digital opportunities opened up by social media, cloud computing and the like, personal contact with the customer remains essential. Anyone who hopes to succeed in today’s highly individualised and technological business world must put customers at the centre of all their sales activities. Modern customers are highly informed, and expect contact to be individual and tailored to their requirements.
A solution to this is provided by the empathic CRM approach, where customer contact – whether online or through direct conversation – is supported by digital background information about the customer. This information is drawn from the customer journey and imported directly into the CRM system, where it can be accessed at any time.
Empathic CRM offers the potential to strengthen new or existing customer relationships. By identifying and analysing customers’ individual motives for decisions, companies can deliver highly personalised advice and support. Empathic CRM is characterised by five features that must be borne in mind:
Customer communication takes place primarily on a value-based level, and less through product advertising. Customers are offered added value – specifically through everything that is communicated to them.
Finding out and catering to the customer’s motives and wishes is therefore the most important issue in current and future customer relationship management. It is vitally important for companies to continuously monitor and draw conclusions from fast-paced developments; heavy-handed advertising is no longer fruitful with today’s enlightened and well-informed customers.
A visit to CeBIT 2016 will provide an overview of the traditional and cloud-based CRM solutions currently on offer. Many providers will be showcasing their latest CRM solutions, while the conference programme in the Digital Marketing & Experience Arena offers brilliant key speakers and exciting discussions. Experts will debate the new paradigms and approaches in mobile and collaborative concepts for sales and marketing, development trends for a 360° approach in customer data and dialogue management, and the new automation and data analysis opportunities for the more effective and efficient organisation of sales and marketing. Well worth a visit!