Customer relationship management was known to merchants and vendors for ages. Even during the early days of trade sellers used to offer personalized services to their most profiteering and regular customers. The trend is still alive only with a change in nuance. Earlier, trades were more personal and the buyers and sellers used to know each other in person. But as we progressed, technology came as a barrier in forming direct relationships with customers. For a while organizations relied on email marketing and direct calls to render their services to their clientele.
A further advancement took place with the introduction of customer relationship management software or CRM which made most part of customer management automated.
Since it was first introduced in the 90’s CRM had grown to become an essential business tools for enterprises.
What is a CRM?
CRM is a contact management system where it stores information pertaining to customers such as – name, address, phone numbers, email ids, company details, etc. At its early stage CRM was a database that held key information on customers to allow executive to access data from a common platform. But over years, as customers have evolved CRM evolved too. It is now perceived more as a business tool that will help boosting sales and marketing efforts of a business by garnering drilled down information on customers. It offers insight on anticipating changing customer behavior. A CRM system now essentially needs to play the roles of:
- Lowering customer management cost by streamlining data management process
- Helping the enterprise to acquire new businesses at regular basis
- Automating the entire sales process from lead generation through closing of deal
- Offering effective deal management solutions by converting leads to customers
- Anticipating changing customer behavior
- Building and promoting brand value of your business
Over the years CRM market grew by leaps and bounds and with introduction of cloud solutions to CRM systems it is expected to become wide prevailing. In 2012, the size of CRM market grew by 12% which is the highest among enterprise applications. Among this 40% implementation was SaaS based.
However, rise of CRM hasn’t been smooth. There was a time when CRM adoption rate dwindle dangerously and the word CRM almost ceased to exist. The fault lies with both vendors and users. Vendors caused too much hype to be able to sell their products and users on the other hand made mistake of considering CRM as a magic solution.
The situation however is improving since users started recognizing its limitations along with exploring its potentials.
Rise of Social CRM: Today a CRM is an undisputed business enhancement tool. With advent of cloud businesses are focusing more on creating an integrated platform where information can be shared within an organizational structure without barriers. Earlier implementation of CRM was departmentalized but by facilitating collaboration enterprises can ensure that the software presents more comprehensive picture of their business performance. It has enables sales executives to craft tailor-made services for clients by presenting with a 360⁰ view of customer profile.
Further, integration with social media platforms enabled to monitor and track customer sentiments across the web world. As surveys have revealed that over 60% of America’s adult population prefer social platforms to interact with their favorite brands. Earlier with traditional CRM system communication was often one-way. But social-CRM integration has made it possible for ideas to flow either ways. Social insight is assisting enterprises in the following ways:
- Bonding better with customer by developing peer-to-peer relationship
- Tracking their updates and life’s events on social sites and accordingly devising tailor-made solutions
- Immediately learning about customer sentiment – grievances, positive experience
- Targeting potential market by analyzing social media trends
- Building customer loyalty by facilitating two-way communication
Currently over 77 percent of American enterprises have embraced public cloud computing solutions of various degrees and the trend is to stay robust in the coming days. Small and medium businesses are more voracious clients of cloud based CRM solutions for affordable rates and no infrastructural requirements. This is expected to bring the cost of cloud solutions further down and enable service providers to extend their service portfolio further.