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3 Driving Forces Behind Increasing Investments in CRM

By: Nick Welch

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) continues to climb in priority for many companies in today’s hyper competitive market for customers.  A popular New Year’s resolution for many companies is upgrading or implementing a new CRM system. In fact, Gartner indicated that CRM was the #8 IT Priority for CIOs in 2012, up from #18 in 2011.  And CRM figures to be an even higher priority for 2013.  So why are companies prioritizing CRM?  Let’s take a look at 3 driving forces behind increasing investments in CRM…

1.  Social CRM

Integrating social media with CRM has some tantalizing benefits:

  • Real-time access to customers unmatched by any other channel
  • Increased revenue through lower costs and greater reach to customers
  • Operational efficiency gains through greater insight to your customer base

However, developing a Social CRM strategy can be challenging since social media has shifted the relationship with the customer.  With social media, customers tend to have more power in the relationship because they have networks with which the organization would like to connect and explore.  In order to tap into those networks, organizations must create experiences that will attract customers’ interest and drive interaction.   This is not an easy task as CRM strategies focus mainly on managing the relationship with their customers – not facilitating value added dialogue and providing intriguing customer experiences.  In social media, the phrase “the customer is king” has never been more true.

So what helps make a Social CRM strategy successful?  SEI believes it is important to develop strategies and goals – regardless of how you plan to engage your customers – around the integration of social media and CRM. These should include governance of engagement policies, key performance indicators (KPIs), and other metrics to clearly measure and monitor your progress.

2.  CRM Analytics

CRM tools today are better integrated with other systems than ever before.  These capabilities allow organizations to obtain a 360 degree view of their customers (e.g. ability to use marketing, sales, and website usage data to do more targeted cross-selling).  Organizations can take advantage of voice of the customer from social media and other internal systems to better identify customer needs and expectations.

Access to analytics is crucial, but companies that use that data to drive decisions benefit most.  For example, customer experience analytics provide the opportunity to identify your “best” customers (which may often be surprising).  You could find that your most infrequent customers have the highest overall spend.  By focusing on these critical customers, organizations can maintain a loyal customer base for the long-term and ultimately generate more revenue.

3. Software as a Service (SaaS) or Cloud CRM

The benefits of a SaaS solution are hard to ignore:

  • No in-house hardware or software to install and maintain
  • Instant global availability due to access over the internet
  • Smaller upgrades on a consistent, predictable and continuous timeframe for as long as you own the licenses

SaaS solutions are not for everyone, however.  For starters, some industries may have regulations on storing data in the cloud.  The amount of interfacing required or the loss of flexibility of a SaaS solution may turn others away from a cloud-based solution.

SEI knows that it is imperative to examine if the SaaS model fits your needs before choosing one.  For example, IBM announced last year that it would be replacing its Siebel implementation with a relative newcomer to the market, SugarCRM (not a SaaS model).  IBM valued the flexibility to have the software run on and integrate with IBM software platforms like Lotus Notes and DB2 databases that SugarCRM provided.  They also noted that the per user license fee of the SaaS model was too costly for their large number of CRM users.  IBM clearly examined their needs before selecting SugarCRM as their CRM vendor.  With years of vendor evaluation/selection experience, SEI can help your company do the same.

Nick Welch

Consultant

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