With the advances in technology playing an integral part, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has evolved significantly over the past few years. In fact, new research from Forrester has reported that conversion rates can now improve by over 300% with a CRM platform in place.
Prior to this, businesses would use a wide variety of siloed tools and systems to both attract and retain customers, and largely without an interrelated and robust strategy that focused on maintaining relationships with customers that came through their doors.
Then platforms such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Salesforce materialised, and strategical planning around CRM could become a more serious possibility – but only for the global enterprises that could afford both the platforms and the cost of installing them, which was both difficult and time-intensive.
It’s amazing how far we’ve come in such a short space of time. Nowadays, CRM is an absolute prerequisite for navigating the convoluted customer landscape where channels have multiplied, devices have advanced dramatically and attention spans have shrunk because there’s so much see.
To succeed in this space, it’s now about adding real value and genuine engagement to create meaningful relationships with your customers that you can use as a competitive advantage – not just driving for one-off sales.
With the industry set to develop even further, and with the cost and competition of acquiring new customers amplifying, it’s now more important than ever to develop a strong CRM strategy to keep hold of the customers you’ve worked so hard for, and to maximise their potential and nurture their loyalty.
These are my thoughts on how the CRM landscape is set to evolve as we move towards 2019.
AI will power platforms and enable richer customer engagement
AI can analyse zillions of customer interactions across a huge number of channels in real-time, which delivers specific insights into behaviours and enables marketers to calculate their customer’s needs.
Automation then uses those calculations to turn leads into customers by sending them the message they want to see at exactly the time they want to see it.
As this technology continues to advance, it will facilitate more accurate segmentation that can subsequently intensify personalisation and enable richer customer engagement.
Platforms will become even more industry-specific and costs will decrease
There are now hundreds of CRM platforms on the market due to advances in cloud-based technology. According to new research 68% of CRM solutions will be cloud-based in 2019, offering more flexibility and affordability to small and mid-sized business over the traditional installation of a software platform.
Whilst the giants will continue to pick up the smaller players that can augment their own products with additional features, many CRM vendors will continue to enter the scene by focusing on niche markets.
It makes sense to do so; a consumer-tech company will have very different CRM needs than those of a recruitment business, so offering solutions tailored for industry specific requirements will give smaller companies an opportunity to thrive in this space.
Systems will be able to leverage and respond to the goldmine of data from social media more fluidly to create better customer profiles
Social media houses a mountain of first-party data that provides rich insights into who your customers are as people, not just their buying behaviour. Today’s CRM systems can analyse this insight and use it to enrich customer profiles, which will continue to develop and strengthen in 2019 where the social media CRM market is set to reach over $10 billion.
Automation will continue to play an important role here, not just by parsing data but using the insights to offer real engagement with customers and provide a two-way dialogue that doesn’t come across as blatant selling. Marketing offers and communications can be carefully conveyed in a seemingly natural and unobtrusive format, and problems can be addressed imminently and personally.
The organisational benefits of housing a CRM system will increase as systems become even more collaborative
Whilst improving your customer’s experience is a key advantage of installing a CRM system, the administrative benefits to the organisation are also significant. A world-class CRM platform facilitates collaboration and information sharing across the whole company, which improves efficiency and leads to exceptional customer service.
As systems continue to improve teams across the organisation will be able to leverage more insight from numerous sources that can enhance a customer profile in real-time, and subsequently provide even better service.
By removing data silos and enabling 360-degree views of customers, plus housing everything from contact management to deal tracking under one roof, workflows will continue to become even more streamlined.
RightNow reports that 86% of potential customers are willing to pay up to 25% more if it gets them a better customer experience, and by 2020, customer experience is set to overtake both price and product as the main differentiator between brands, according to Walker Info.
A strong CRM programme and strategy is how you take that customer experience up to the next level. A Forrester’s study has shown that 74% of companies claim to have better customer relationships since implementing a CRM strategy, which they can then use as a competitive advantage.
Our next Hatch:CRM workshop is on the 4 – 5 December 2018. This 2-day intensive workshop will equip you with the advanced skills and techniques you need to run a highly effective CRM programme from strategy to execution in 2019.
Taught by Peter Worster, Founder of the leading specialist CRM business, Conduit, you will learn everything from how to get from customer pain to desirable CRM solutions and how the new GDPR should be affecting your CRM strategy.
If you want to find out more you can download the 2-day course agenda here.