“Internet based customer relationship management is one of the most dramatic and fundamental change in the history of business” – Erin Kinikin, Vice-President, CRM for Giga Information Group.
“iCRM is fundamentally the expression of the customer-centric business philosophy. It is how you respond to the fact that customers are now the drivers in our economy” – Dick Lee, Founder, High Yield Methods.
Customer relationship management or CRM has become an extremely powerful business trend in just a few years. Almost all business’ have integrated with any one of the CRm software to manage and maintain the relationship with their customers. A CRM software not just helps a business store every possible information about a customer, but also helps interact with them with ease, increase sales, identify possible prospects, create new relationships with future customers and maintain relationship with old clients. In short, it has become any business’ best friend. However, critics say, the best is yet to come.
DIFFERENT VERSIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (CRM)
Though almost all critics believe the best of CRM is yet to come, there are a few others who believe that the market growth of CRM will remain stagnant for the year 2014. Others believe that the future of CRM is already here and that everybody uses CRM in some form or the other. Another interesting comment by the CRM magazine is that Facebook is the future of CRM.
Gartner Inc., an American IT research and advisory firm, believes the future of CRM will be stagnant for the year 2014. “Hot areas for CRM investment include mobility, social media and technologies, web analytics and e-commerce”, said Joanne Correia, the research Vice-President at Gartner Inc. Though there has been a drastic and continuous growth of the number of e-commerce websites and social media relevance, “high-tech banking, insurance, securities, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, IT manufacturing and others will continue to be the largest spenders on CRM”, opines Ed Thompson, Vice-President and analyst at Gartner. This he says is because these industries have the widest use of different types of CRM applications and technologies.
A recent online panel discussion by the internet portal CRMGuru.com, witnessed a common opinion among its distinguished CRM experts. They all agreed that customer relationship management was here to stay but would soon evolve. Dick Lee says that it took some time for business’ to accept CRM softwares as they did not want to do business the customer way. However, customers have finally forced the issue, he says. However, Liz Shahnam of META Group was confident while saying that “iCRM projects that do not integrate with the customer touch points are destined to be a failure”. The discussion came to an end with the conclusion that CRM will soon become an ingrained business strategy for companies.
Another comparatively old yet interesting opinion is that from the CRM Magazine, that said in 2009, that Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are the future of CRM. The article portrayed how these social sites have become a CRM for individuals. These sites help manage relationships, both personal as well as professional. The exact same motive of a CRM isn’t it? The article says that these social media sites remind business’ that CRM is about customer support service and not about technology. According to this article, the future of customer relationship management will be transparent, customer-centric and customer-driven. So business’, if you haven’t yet accepted that your customers are your God, it is high time you realized their worth.
Anshu Sharma, former Vice-President of product management and strategy at Salesforce believes that everyone unknowingly uses CRM in some form or the other. He says that we have already reached the future of CRM, but we are just not aware of it. For example, Uber is a perfect example of a CRM in the transportation sector. How? Well, what does Uber do? It helps taxi-drivers connect with their customers in real time, perform the transaction process and maintain the relationship in future. Further, it also enables the feedback process. What more do you want from this perfect CRM service! Similarly, AirBnB is your travel CRM while OpenTable is the perfect restaurant CRM software.
1CLICK’S VERSION OF CRM’S FUTURE
Today, customers want a 360-degree view. It is not enough for business’ to just store information about customers or for business’ to just keep a ‘Contact Us’ section in their website. Business’ want a 360 degree interaction, and as a result, they will always be on the lookout for softwares that help them perform this interaction. And CRM is their time-saving and economical form of doing this. We, at 1Click believe the future of customer relationship management is a mix of all the above predictions.
Social media has definitely been an integral part of CRM, and is probably the reason why business’ today realize the value and importance of customers and their views. CRM, however, still has a long way to go. The change in usage from desktops to laptops to mobiles is a noted change. And as a result, as more and more customers move to mobile usage, CRM systems too will build these apps. And like Anshu Sharma opined, all of us use some form of CRM in our day-to-day life. The sooner we realize and accept it, the faster we will be able to further develop the CRM software. Though there will be several changes in technology and organizational challenges, the end point remains that CRM is a journey and the customers have their hands on their road map and the steering wheel. It depends on whether business’ want to travel through the same journey as that of the customers or take a different path.
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