03rd Jul, 2018
, , Designation
There was a time when customers only had a long-stringed phone number for contacting and interacting with businesses. With the internet came the era of review sites and social media, and suddenly, people had access to multiple touch points through which they could interact with a brand, voicing their opinions, likes and complaints in an instant.
CRM, or rather, the concept of customer relationship management has been around since 1970, with the first mobile CRM SOFTWARE offering being launched in 1999.
Moving up till 2000, and the CRM software products largely consisted of sophisticated enterprise resource planning functionality, along with shipping and marketing capabilities. CRM tools were more about managing customers’ database rather than interacting with them.
And then the rise of social media changed opened the gate for further innovation. Around 2009, developers realised that social media offered the perfect platform for a customer and brand to interact. So, CRM software started integrating social media, enabling businesses to manage their interaction with their customers in a more nuanced manner.
In the beginning of 2018, CRM software solutions surpassed many database management system platforms to become the largest software market in the world. According to Gartner, the CRM software market raked in a whopping USD 39.5 billion while the DBMS market generated USD 36.8 billion in revenue.
Gartner also predicts that the CRM software market will grow by 16% in 2018. Lead management, customer feedback management and field service management will be the major drivers behind this growth.
Talking about the present-day growth rate, increasing mobility is one of the major reasons behind the growth of the CRM software market. According to a report by Nucleus Research, 65% of organisations that were using mobile CRM were able to meet or exceed their sales targets.
Clearly, in all these years, CRM tools have moved far beyond merely managing a customer contact list. It now plays an active and critical role in driving sales and executing marketing campaigns for businesses. Let’s take a look at what an ideal CRM software offers to businesses in this day and age:
Lead Management and Sales – The CRM software of today is able to generate leads through multiple touch points including social media, website visits, calls and newsletter sign-ups etc. CRMs offer support throughout the sales pipeline and play a vital role in closing the sales.
Marketing Campaigns – Several industry-leading CRM software solutions come integrated with marketing capabilities, offering marketers email templates, email marketing solutions, SMS campaigns and the likes. Essentially, CRM tools have become a convergence point for sales and marketing.
Reporting – Sophisticated CRM software platforms of today come with a dedicated dashboard that enables teams and decision makers to view all the relevant data on a single window. They also come with report generating and exporting capabilities, that make it easy for teams to take swift actions and decisions.
E-Commerce – Leveraging third-party integration, it integrates with the e-commerce platform and enabling smoother operations and better customer relationship management.
Call Center Capabilities – Just like e-commerce capabilities, call center functions can also be achieved through third-party integration. Bringing in call center functionality into the CRM tools enable businesses to offer a more refined experience to customers.
Evolution of Intelligent CRM – Future Trends
CRM software platforms are set for a major evolution. Thanks to emerging technologies like AI, ML etc. both customers and CRM tool users will experience a pivotal shift in how they interact with a CRM software platform. From getting deeper access to how customers interact with businesses to how users manage their workflows, the intelligent CRM software applications will usher in an era of enhanced customer experience management and process automation.
Here is a look at some of the trends that will power the intelligent CRM tools of the future:
Social CRMs – While CRM tools come integrated with social media capabilities, the rise of dedicated social CRM software will fuel deeper interaction between a brand and its customers. From answering customer queries in real-time to tweaking offerings based on customer sentiments, businesses will be able to shape their customer interactions at a deeper level.
CRMs and Virtual Assistants – Thanks to the rise of virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, natural language processing has seen immense development. According to Forrester, in 2018, CRM software platforms will come built-in with voice assistants will enable users to interact with email, improve data entry and recommendations on how to start the next best customer interaction.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – Robotic Process Automation platforms are designed to learn how to interact with a user interface of a software, just like a human. This will enable businesses to automate and refine many CRM-based tasks that are carried out by humans. Forrester estimates that RPA will augment around 260,000 US jobs related to sales in 2018.
Artificial Intelligence –CRM tool users will leverage Artificial Intelligence to complete repetitive and time-consuming tasks, leaving them free to interact with customer throughout critical points of their user journey. The effect of AI in CRM will be felt across sales and marketing verticals.
Internet of Things (IoT) – Internet of Things will enable deeper customer interaction with products and services. This will in turn feed CRM platforms with real-time data on customer behavior and preference, their complaints, how they view the competition and fluctuations in product demand, enabling businesses to implement actionable strategies on-the-go.
Better API Integration – Thanks to advances in third-party integration technology, CRM tools will be able to work seamlessly across marketing, sales and customer service departments within an organizations, enabling them to handle and interact with customers more effectively and efficiently.
This integration has started to come about due to a simple fact that businesses are now realizing that they can’t have critical departments like sales, marketing, and customer service work in silos. There is a general need for better integration within departments and advances in CRM software are helping it rise to the occasion and facilitating a complete evolution in how organizations do business.
Stemming from the foundational requirements of selling faster and smarter, enhancements in the CRM software space and the rise of intelligent, extremely customizable CRM platform is, while a natural progression, however, it is nothing short of a success story for the Sales industry.