The CRM evolution and the culture of immediacy

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

The era of mobility is causing a seismic shift in customer expectations. In the past five years, we’ve seen an explosion in mobile technologies and our thirst for tablets and smartphones isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. IDC has predicted that sales of each will grow by 18% and 12% respectively this year alone. On top of this, wearable technologies, such as Google Glass and smartwatches are set for explosive growth.

But our desire to be connected to the wider world at all times is driving a culture of immediacy, whereby customers expect immediate access to services on the go.

Living in this culture of immediacy, customers expect more from brands and can very quickly become disgruntled if access to a service becomes unexpectedly delayed. The matter has only been made worse by the proliferation of social networks, which have made it far easier for customers to complain. For example, it’s becoming increasingly common for consumers to take to Twitter and attack brands for their poor customer service in a very public arena.

Adjusting to a new way of life is never easy, and this is no truer than in the world of customer services. Traditional platforms simply haven’t been robust enough to deal with increasing customer demands. So how can businesses adjust to this culture of immediacy and equip their employees with the right information, exactly when they need it, to keep their customers happy?

CRM evolution

Legacy customer relationship management (CRM) platforms were never designed to function in the culture of immediacy. They were designed to give managers reports to provide visibility into sales and business performance.

As a result, those on the front line of customer services have typically been neglected, meaning they’ve been put off from ever using CRM platforms properly. But if businesses are to adapt to this new culture and respond to each and every customer effectively and timely, they need a system that keeps the individual user front of mind.

Doing it my way

In the same way that individual customers have their own demands, individual workers have their own ways of working. Those who use the CRM system every day must actually want to use it, and it’s therefore vitally important that they’re given a solution that works the way they do. Each individual needs to see the system as a personalised, powerful tool to perform his or her job more effectively.

CRM platforms should render information quickly and easily. To start with, users should be able to see all of the pertinent customer information on a single page without having to navigate several windows or screens. They must be able to use and share data easily across departments from one single system. Individuals need an easy way to make the system their own, configuring it in just a few clicks without involving IT resources. Additionally, they should also be able to consume data from their own social and professional networks right inside the system to connect on a more meaningful level with every customer.

The benefits of taking this approach are twofold: Employees become more productive when they have access to more insightful business data, meaning that each customer enquiry can be dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible. In addition, customers become increasingly satisfied because they feel like they are being treated as valued individuals with unique requirements.

Covering all bases

But the culture of immediacy demands more, and solely concentrating on giving the customer services team access to the CRM platform isn’t enough. In order to ensure the business can respond to all enquiries in a timely fashion, every single employee in a customer-facing role should be using the CRM platform daily. So, not just those at the coal face of customer service but also, data analysts and even the reception desk.

Being able to put the CRM system in the hands of every employee who engages with the customer requires two things: affordability and simplicity. It must be cost effective enough for the business to use across its entire customer-facing employee-base and it must be simple to use. We’re all becoming increasingly tech-savvy but at the same time, we want things to work in a logical manner. The CRM platform should therefore be as easy and intuitive to use as any modern consumer app.

The future of CRM

Ubiquitous mobile technologies are transforming customer expectations and organisations need to transform their business models in order to keep up with the pace of change. If they choose not to, they run the risk of damaging customer relationships and even potentially losing their customers to competitors. But those bold enough to rewrite the CRM rule book will be empowered to connect with their customers on a far deeper level, gain better insights and strengthen relationships.

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