The uptake of CRM platforms has continued over the last 12 months and shows little signs of abating. Much-cited research from Gartner indicated that the market will be worth a great deal more by 2017 as firms buy into the software, a sure sign that it is beginning to mature.
For many firms, the old adage that you need to walk before you can run is worth bearing in mind when investing in a first CRM system.
While great advances have been made when it comes to integrating social and mobile platforms with CRM, these may be initially out of the reach of companies without much expertise in operating the software.
Although it tends to be quite intuitive, especially in the case of something like Microsoft Dynamics CRM that allows users to build on their existing knowledge base of similar interfaces, it is nevertheless wise not to bite off more than you can chew.
However, for businesses that have already established their basic CRM processes, there are many advantages in looking towards the social and mobile aspects of the software.
Writing for CRM Magazine, Scott Kostojohn and Mazen Ghalayini – directors in the customer technology and CRM practices at West Monroe Partners – laid out the possibilities that these advances have created.
As I’ve alluded to above, it’s best not to simply dive into social for the sake of it or because it is the buzzword de jours.
Mr Kostojohn and Mr Ghalayini said: “It’s capable of providing strong insights, but is often implemented poorly. Before embarking on a social CRM initiative, organisations need to have a finish line in mind – how is this new data ultimately going to be applied? More importantly, can both our customers and our bottom line benefit from this application?”
One of the important questions marketers must ask before opting for a social element to their CRM software is how they are going to analyse the information. It’s all well and good to track how customers use Facebook and Twitter, but simply siloing this data is of no benefit and will in fact prove to be a waste of time and money.
Instead, marketers need to start small and create focused, easily examined amounts of data that they can then polish into actionable insights.
“It is tempting to adopt each new CRM advancement in hopes of improving your data collection and driving conversions, but it’s more important that these decisions be driven by an overarching strategy,” added the two experts.
Similarly, mobile shouldn’t simply be treated as an additional (and figurative) feather to add to your metaphorical CRM hat. Much like tortuous millinery-related metaphors, it should be deployed advisedly and only if it looks likely to add value to your business proposition.
Implementation is also crucial, as the intersection of mobile and CRM is a complex one that can lead to serious confusion if the software is improperly primed or workers are not equipped to handle it properly.
“While mobile devices can yield interesting customer insights such as geolocation information, improperly harvesting these insights can bias that 360-degree view you’re trying to create,” said Mr Kostojohn and Mr Ghalayini.
The pair concluded by suggesting that businesses will increasingly be unable to avoid facing these elements of their CRM technology, despite their warnings that moving too quickly can lead to disaster (or at least drastically disappointing conversion rates compared to what was expected).
With the emergence of new trends such as wearable technology and the so-called Internet of Things – which will see everyday devices like kettles and ovens be given a web connection that will make them more responsive and also capable of gathering consumer data – the need to use CRM to manage insights is clear.
Simply put, having a good grasp of the fundamentals and driving up your conversion rate through intelligent targeting will gain good results, particularly when you begin to add the social and mobile bells and whistles to your basic CRM package.
“The complexity and scope of CRM will continue to increase for the foreseeable future, which places a premium on having a solid CRM foundation today. Strategy and structure must drive tomorrow’s adoption, especially if businesses expect social and mobile channels to improve their view of CRM to have a meaningful impact on conversions,” concluded Mr Kostojohn and Mr Ghalayini.
With Gartner anticipating such a boom in the market over the next three years, it seems likely that companies will be getting to grips with issues such as these in the near future.