Technology – on the road to reinvent CRM?
In an increasingly mobile-savvy world, the key to sustainable growth is a memorable customer experience.
For that, we have often relied on Customer Relationship Management, or CRM for short. In fact, it has been around for a long time, but recent advances in technology have truly made CRM software a ubiquitous force in many businesses. No longer is the market black and white: with changing times, came an emerging range of technologies, each capable of shaping CRM implementations in many interesting ways.
Let’s discuss a few of the many aspects of technology reinventing the concept of CRM:
Tech #1: VoIP
It is safe to say that few technologies have generated a louder buzz than VoIP – and that is no surprise.
VoIP – or Voice over Internet Protocol – has become an established part of many businesses, allowing both employees and buyers to remain in contact easily, regardless of their locations. Ross Daniels, manager of product marketing at Cisco, highlights the benefits of this technology, by stating, “You begin to transcend the idea of location or geographic handcuffs.”
Apart from that, VoIP offers many other advantages to CRM processes, including:
- Efficient customer service evaluation
- Reduced costs
- The ability of employees to be mobile and still stay connected to the office and their customers.
Furthermore, continued integration of voice with CRM will allow employees to give a personal touch to customer relations. Analytics built into CRM software can be used to give valuable information about customer responses and habits. All these features inevitably help improve the productivity of any business.
Nobody quite sums up the benefits of VoIP like Rich Jaso, Northern American managing partner at Unisys, who says, “If there is a major driver in the call centre space, its VoIP and its finally come into its own.”
Tech #2: Social Media and Mobile Devices
Although mobile technology has been around for some time now, it is fairly recent news that it has now become truly disruptive, expanding into an average customer’s online daily routine. This breakthrough has also made social media widely accessible to all.
For that reason, today’s CRM software products explore ways to maximise social media data and accessibility provided by mobile technology, to strengthen a company’s link with its customers. In fact, the rise of social media has changed the marketing and customer relationship landscape dramatically, creating a strategic shift from transactional relationships to more personal and interactive ones. This kind of one-to-one relationship is established far better now, and the reason is simple: the entire concept has changed. Now, delivering targeted content is more important than just pitching offers.
The benefits don’t stop just for customers, however. Employees get to reap the benefits by staying up-to-date with important events and deals, thereby letting them find ways to interact with customers more. Entire enterprises can search for relationships to accounts and contacts in their CRM system.
Businesses have taken this one step further by setting a trend towards Customer Experience Management (CXM), where the focus is kept on providing customers with an experience and not simply selling them a product.
Tech #3: Artificial Intelligence – bionic customer services
AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been held on a high – and slightly controversial – a pedestal for a long time. It has been promoted for its innovative prospects, but equally shunned for its unexpected outcomes. How will it make a difference in the day-to-day lives of customer service agents?
AI has the tendency to act as a new form of automated superpower for agents by knowing the right answer for an interaction even before the agent does. The latest technologies enable CRM systems to apply AI to any customer interaction, analyse it and recommend the next best steps within minutes, all while allowing the agent to dodge any blind spots.
This kind of bionic service enhances practicality within a company’s interaction with its customers and gives salespeople pick the best course of action without losing an empathetic, human touch – critical to reel in customers by their interests.
Tech #4: Relief from self-service frustration – IoT and augmented reality
An ideal business would want to know their customers better than they know themselves. In fact, they would want to be so skilful, to the point where they could expect a customer’s problem – and solve it – before the buyer even raises his or her voice for a call for help. Such an idea might have seemed like an impossibility before – but not anymore.
As customers move away from the brick-and-mortar stores and into online shopping, businesses need new ways to predict and evaluate a customer’s state of mind. A technology that can do just that is Augmented Reality and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Typically, if a customer faces an issue, they have to first spend time figuring it out themselves, then infer to online help sections, read long FAQ documents and then call helplines if all else fails. Needless to say, this is both useless and frustrating and drives your customer away from your business.
However, IoT devices provide an increased amount of data and analytics, which businesses can use in augmented reality to improve the support that customers get. In fact, augmented reality can even be used in real-time to visually show customers how to resolve their issues. Despite the method being quite automated, it actually serves to satisfy customers quicker than ever. Moreover, introducing something as new and interesting as augmented reality can actually piqué a customer’s fascination.
Undoubtedly, CRM has come a long way since the time when businesses would enter customer data in logbooks. Thanks to advances in IT technologies, CRM software today offer advanced analytical customer insights that can give any business that competitive edge.
However, we are still far from establishing these above-mentioned technologies within the norm. It will take a lot more time to introduce such advanced tactics at all business levels, and expect them all to work in cohesion.
Nevertheless, it is about time we moved past traditional CRM systems and venture into a true journey-enabled engagement philosophy that serves to give customers the ultimate experience, vital to garnering their loyalty.