Over the past two decades Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has become an essential tool to support sales and marketing activity. It has also been extended to improve customer support, with organisations using the integral case management functionality to track customer interactions. The technology is proven, effective and indeed is now an essential component in any sales person’s armoury.
So why is the next generation of IT spend increasingly focused on CRM? According to research organisation Gartner’s Worldwide IT Spending Forecast, global IT spending is set to reach $3.7bn by 2014 and a significant proportion of investment is related to improving CRM deployments. The analyst predicts that enterprise software spending is on pace to grow 6.4% in 2013, with expanded spending on e-commerce, social media and mobile as organisations boost customer relationship systems.
These CRM buyers are now focusing on technologies that enable more targeted customer interactions in multichannel environments – including online channel and marketing campaign management – and technologies enabling customer loyalty management.
Yet despite this increase in CRM spend, organisations are still missing a trick: there is far more to CRM than sales and marketing. The core elements of CRM – opportunity management, account management and case management – are based on highly effective workflow that can be deployed to streamline operations in many areas of the business.
• Extending Workflow
Workflow is a key component in CRM, enabling organisations to streamline sales and marketing activity – from automating product discount approvals to event triggered marketing campaigns. CRM products such as Sage CRM
enable organisations to quickly and easily build powerful workflow processes that can include customers, employees and suppliers within the workflow, providing the chance to impose greater control over the entire business, from product acquisition through customer acquisition to customer support.
• Information Hub
One of the most compelling benefits of building business processes around CRM solution is the ease with which the organisation can improve cross-business visibility. These highly extensible solutions deliver an unprecedented depth of customer history and customer interaction information but also enable a fast view into other related business data. In essence CRM becomes the information hub that provides deep customer information and a simple view into any related business data.
In a 24×7 business environment driven by high customer expectations and enabled by web and mobile access, CRM can and should have a far wider role within the business. Combining the depth of customer information resource with highly effective workflow, CRM is easily customised or adapted to meet a raft of key business challenges, from streamlining administration to enabling web self-service. It is great sales and marketing tool, but it is also so much more. The reinvigoration of CRM is not just about big data and social media; it is those organisations that extend CRM to create a central information hub that supports diverse business operations that will drive significant incremental value.