Once upon a time, a Rolodex sat upon a desk next to a phone. There was no laptop, only a stack of business cards, a pen, and a notepad. This was how businesses related to customers. While that meant more time on the phone, it also meant more time spent meeting face-to-face.
Much has changed since those times. The Rolodex is gone, and many customers are too far away to meet face-to-face regularly. Instead, businesses rely on technology to connect them and also keep their customer information organized and readily accessible. CRM has shouldered much of this responsibility for the past couple of decades, and the next five years will see CRM transformed, as businesses adapt to significant changes in the way customers use technology.
Desktop computers are used almost exclusively for business and gaming now. Many customers now only have laptops, and some only have mobile phones. The most connected users will have multiple devices, including laptops, mobile phones, and tablets. Moreover, the ways in which they communicate are changing as well. Users who used to call or email their friends now often relate through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.
To prepare for the new mobile/social/connected user, companies need CRM that can address four areas of concern:
- Mobility – That inevitably means some type of public or private cloud that allows users (especially employees) to connect to your CRM system wherever they happen to be.
- Collaboration – Employees need to find better ways to collaborate on projects. The days of emailing around attachments are over, or at least they should be.
- Social media – This includes internal social media systems within the business and external social media platforms that allow businesses to communicate with customers
- Extensibility – Companies invest a lot into their CRM systems, so it would be nice to have CRM software that can grow and develop according to changing business needs. This extended functionality is important for industries like retail or manufacturing that may have specific needs not addressed by standalone CRM software. Extensions may include vendor-supplied add-ons as well as third-party add-ons.
Companies must be prepared for these changes in customer relations, but it is ultimately up to CRM vendors to change CRM software to supply them with the necessary tools to adapt. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is among the innovative few that are answering that call.
By PDG Consultants, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner serving New Jersey