Its Not Your Mother's CRM Anymore

CRM technologies are over two decades old. Companies first used them to provide “inside-out” efficiencies;operational efficiencies for sales, marketing and customer service organizations when interacting with customers. They aggregated customer data, analyzed that data, and automated workflows to optimize customer engagement processes. Companies could easily argue  business benefits by measuring operational metrics like reducing marketing costs, increasing revenues from sales people, decreasing sale cycle times, better pipeline visibility, decreasing service resolution times and more.     

Because of this quantifiable ROI, CRM became a must-have in large organizations. This strong demand prompted CRM vendors to tackle huge swaths of business problems, and fueled ongoing innovation and consolidation in the marketplace. Today, much of CRM technology is commoditized, and leading vendors offer competitive solutions, choke-full of features and functions, including deeply verticalized solutions.

Being successful at CRM today builds upon yesterday’s internal operational efficiencies and extends the power of these solutions to better support customers through their end-to-end engagement journey to garner their satisfaction and long term loyalty – an “outside-in” perspective. Modern CRM strategies enable good customer experiences. They support customer interactions with one another over a range of social, digital and mobile channels. How? By leveraging the vast amounts of interaction and transaction data to deliver contextual experiences that add value to the customer, and preserve the value of the company brand. 

How do you modernize your CRM?

1) Align your CRM strategy with your customer experience strategy. Uber does this right.  Their customer experience is journey is streamlined for minimum friction. For example, when you sign up, your payment information is accepted by a quick scan of a credit card. When you requests car service, the driver and car details are displayed, and progress can be tracked via GPS. Transactions are effortless as no money change hands. And when you need customer service, its effective and personalized. 

2) Focus CRM outcomes on revenue uplift, not operational efficiencies. Don't focus on intricate cost-based justifications for CRM – focus on business outcomes which quantify the value of driving higher levels of revenue and company profitability through winning, serving, and retaining customers and enabling the workforce to be more productive and aligned to customer strategies.

3) Leverage CRM to support the end-to-end customer journey. Customers are increasingly impatient as they engage with companies. They want to use multiple communication channels and touchpoints in the course of a single interaction, and not have to repeat their situation every time they switch channels. For example, they want to start a return process online, and drop the merchandise off in a store; or they want to purchase merchandise online, and pick it up in a store. You must elimitate points of friction in your customer journeys. 

4) Deeply personalize engagement. Customer experiences must be deeply personalized, based on explicit and implicit feedback about customer needs and preferences, and must be delivered in the moment, taking into account a person’s current state and location. Weight Watchers does this well, tracking member online and offline behavior to tailor plans that can transform their health.

5) Extend CRM by leveraging integrations. Welcome to the Internet of Things. With modern services and standardized APIs, it's easy to use lighter-weight CRM solutions, or best-in-breed applications, allowing organizations to purchase just what they need and integrate it into a larger technology ecosystem, rather than trying to purchase a massive application that covers every eventuality.  A great example is New England Biolabs, a supplier of specialized enzymes and reagents for DNA research, who connects freezers in scientist labs to the internet to track inventory, and product usage. They use this information to better tailor formulas to scientists specific needs.

6) Engage users simply.  Face it, most people hate using CRM, as data entry and retrieval is hard to do. CRM success demands role-based, simplified user interfaces. User experiences should be task-based and map to common processes, which proactively display relevant information such as the products that the customer owns, the services they subscribe to, and what customer tier they’re in.

Read my report on the Modern CRM for some great case studies.