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Modularity and open source. As the IT teams in midsize firms are investigating and buying Cloud-deployed CRM solutions, they are purchasing those tools and others like analytics that have modular or service-oriented architectures (SOA). They can then source pieces such as contact or order management as needed.

CRM Software

Can Your CRM Evolve as Fast as  Your Customers? (Part 7a)

Modularity and open source. As the IT teams in midsize firms are investigating and buying Cloud-deployed CRM solutions, they are purchasing those tools and others like analytics that have modular or service-oriented architectures (SOA). They can then source pieces such as contact or order management as needed. Modularity can save time, enables realized benefits and ROI sooner and spreads resources over a longer period than “lump sum” traditional CRM designs. Firms are also acquiring solutions written in open source software. Open source software gives developers and IT teams access to the core or kernel code, permitting them to rapidly and less expensively create customized applications. In contrast, proprietary software is “locked,” which means some companies may have to adapt—at great expense—their existing applications around it. In software, few apps are more entrenched (and interdependent with other systems) than CRM.

The changing customer, the implications for CRM and CRM trends have combined to make the case for a smarter approach to CRM: a menu of best practice methods and solutions, designed to work together. On it are Cloud-delivered, modular, open and mobile-enabled CRM, social media monitoring, filtering and analytics, data integration, BI including predictive analytics, data warehousing, marketing automation and collaboration applications. While traditional and many newer CRM solutions have these other tools built in, these wares may not be suitable for individual companies’ specific requirements.

A smarter approach is one that seeks to resolve functional gaps in a company’s operational performance. It is an approach that focuses on customer-centric processes, including improved contact center, IVR and Web self-service; customerpermitted, proactive, outbound, multichannel notification; and, where there is an advantage to be gained, multiple language support.

Continued in Part 7b

 

The constraints imposed on CRM by the changing customer have resulted in clear trends in the development of the software and in how midsize businesses use it.  Marketers, as well as sales and customer service managers need to adjust their operations based on these trends.

CRM Software

Can Your CRM Evolve as Fast as Your Customers? (Part 5b)

The constraints imposed on CRM by the changing customer have resulted in clear trends in the development of the software and in how midsize businesses use it.  Marketers, as well as sales and customer service managers need to adjust their operations based on these trends. They are making better decisions: no longer is it appropriate to rely on assumptions when data can be leveraged. They are focusing on the customer experience in order to grow business with existing customers and attract new ones. This strategy is far less expensive than traditional, aggressive customer acquisition programs, and is more effective in meeting customers’ requirements for personalized and immediate service. Social media has also turned customers’ referrals that are based on their positive experiences into a prime business development tool. And midsize companies are looking at cost effective ways to deliver the software and services that will help them achieve these growth strategies.

Many midsize companies are planning to implement hosted Cloud–delivered CRM solutions. Cloud applications typically rest on outsourced infrastructure or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).  This method can reduce capital, as well as IT and related facilities expenses. IT expenses may be reduced because required applications can be built on the outsourced platform and upgraded as needed—and at lower cost compared to on-premise hardware and software. And facilities expenses are reduced because deployment is expedited from an off-premise infrastructure. This gives firms greater flexibility in meeting changing customer demands without incurring added installation costs or wasting money on overbuying capacity. 

Continued in Part 6

 

In today’s tough economic environment, business managers have to be more bottom-line focused than ever before. Every investment is being carefully scrutinized to see if it maximizes value and if returns are justified.

CRM Software

Can Your CRM Evolve as Fast as Your Customers? (Part 5a)

In today’s tough economic environment, business managers have to be more bottom-line focused than ever before. Every investment is being carefully scrutinized to see if it maximizes value and if returns are justified. CRM solutions are under the microscope. Many companies still remember older CRM solutions that were rolled out in the late 1990s and which were one-size-fits-all packages that required extensive integration and customization. The traditional solutions could cost as much as $1,500 to $2,000 per seat with deployment taking two to three years, and a return on investment (ROI) in as long as three to five years. Sometimes the problems that the CRM solutions were intended to fix had disappeared by the time these old-school systems went live.

That kind of time frame is just too long to deal with today’s information-rich, empowered customers. Companies serving the ever-changing customer should avoid large, stand alone CRM packages with long lead times and costly integrations that are difficult for managers and other staff to use. Instead, they need products that are modular, scalable, and user friendly, with open architectures to protect their investments. The systems must incorporate the mobile and social behaviors of customers in the marketplace as well, or risk being irrelevant to customer needs.  If these conditions are not met, companies will be hard pressed to deliver on the expectations of the customer.

What midsize companies need to realize is a simple truth: the customer is in charge. The companies they choose to do business with have no choice but to pay attention to customers’ desires and needs by delivering the goods and services the way they want, at the price point and service quality they expect.  Advanced CRM solutions and execution strategies can help companies’ business managers meet these demands

Continued in Part 5b

 

Analytics, defined as a system that gathers data from dispersed sources, can identify customer-purchasing patterns.  Predictive analytics is a specialized form that helps business managers to make predictions and then proactively act upon those insights to drive better business outcomes and achieve measurable competitive advantage.

CRM Software

Can Your CRM Evolve as Fast as Your Customers? (Part 4b)

Business intelligence (BI) has been synonymous with analytics but focused on past customer actions, analyzing the information for patterns. BI tools are increasingly incorporating predictive analytics to provide business managers with an integrated means of understanding customers’ needs and devising effective actions and responses.

But powerful analytics can go beyond insights into the customer—it also can enable better service. In the call center, customers’ data must include opt-ins and opt-outs from e-mail marketing. Data collection and phone numbers must be scrubbed against do-not-call lists. Analytics, applied to contact center performance, can help business managers respond quickly, keeping customer wait times down and positioning competitive product and service options. The need for analytics as a CRM driver is clear. Yet many businesses fail to leverage the insights generated by their data.

As midsize companies increasingly have global reach, many interactions that had once been handled in person are now spread across a virtual environment,touched by many employees around the world. But customers will not tolerate inconsistencies and delays that rise from the increasing complexity of business organizations. Businesses are turning to collaboration tools—such as unified communications, audio and web conferencing, instant messaging, and knowledge bases—to complete transactions and resolve matters quickly. These solutions allow the sharing of data on forms and in documents through screen sharing, presentations and reports. Applied to a CRM solution, collaboration tools can generate pop-ups to business-side participants with offers and pricing for them to suggest to customers. In a customer service environment, this type of collaboration can generate increased productivity, incremental sales and reduced churn.

Continued in Part 5

 

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