Evolution of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software

What is a CRM?

Over the last few decades, customer management technologies like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software have become an integral part in organizations, functioning as a way to provide and optimize a quality customer experience for both their present and future customers. 

CRM Software aims to organize, analyze, and understand the relationships and interactions between a business and its customers, both current and potential. The optimized capturing of customer intelligence provided by a CRM drastically improves the relationships your organization has with its customers. 

CRM’s are usually thought of in their most common form, the CRM system or CRM software. Regardless of what type of implementation of a CRM your organization utilizes, the CRM framework helps  in improving the sharing and collaboration of business information like contact management, account planning, sales management, and productivity. Salesforce advertises that CRM’s are estimated to increase sales by up to 30%, customer satisfaction by up to 35% and revenue by up to 38% in any organization that utilizes them effectively, meaning that the lack of a CRM in an organization presents itself as a real opportunity cost.

As your organization constructs a framework for your organization’s complete customer journey, from beginning stages of awareness and finding new customers, winning their business, and providing support that will lead to long-term use and becoming an advocate for your brand, a CRM software plays  an important role capturing the critical information for that journey and the life-cycle of the customer; however, an organization cannot rely solely on the CRM to meet its customer management needs. 

One of the biggest challenges organizations focused on digital transformation of the customer experience and buyer journey face is: What do you do with all of that great information your organization captures about customers and accounts after it is in your CRM? Content is  created, campaigns are sent out, people are called and met with, and your brand connects with its audiences. This next step takes the CRM’s information about the customer and actually begins articulating how your organization’s products and services can meet a customer’s needs.

Just as an organization’s sales, marketing, business development teams, customer service and employee management teams can leverage a multi-purposed CRM, they should also adopt technology that can design, build, and deliver  tailored content to their unique audiences. Building a digital transformation strategy to connect these systems to gather can help in achieving great improvements in operational efficiency. 

Integrating a CRM with the Customer Journey

As your organization begins to build its content strategy and understand what type of content will resonate best with the various buyer personas your product or service targets, collecting all of that content, and giving it the flexibility to be mixed and matched via modular components can be incredibly powerful in both the saving of time and producing of effective content when combined with a robust CRM platform. If your CRM Manager can design your CRM software to effectively capture the critical information required to lead the marketing and communications teams within your organization, then your organization will  have a strong idea as to what type of information that audience member wishes to see (or better yet, what type of content will best resonate with that audience member). This will result in a completely unique interaction with that customer . 

Evolving the CRM

The best CRM services provided today set out to improve employee data access and collaboration, including the capturing and sharing of valuable customer intelligence. As the airwaves become more crowded with social media and advertisers are competing for customer attention spans that range  between 1 and 2 seconds, customer intelligence, and capture of existing information is not enough. CRM services will remain  critical for organizations to leverage long into the future but strategies can be developed to make them more powerful. The evolution of CRM software will come through a shift in thinking of CRMs not as standalone software but instead  in integrating  CRM software into a larger ecosystem of  applications with enhanced analytics and automation that will encompass a more complete picture of the mindset and characteristics of a customer. 

Today companies are investing more into CRMs than ever before. Gartner predicts that by 2021 the CRM will be the largest enterprise software revenue spend. With the massive dollar amounts that companies increasingly pour  into business transformation through better customer relationship management, it is imperative that transformation strategy is successful. Capturing a holistic view of the customer and the journey they take is not a one way street. All customer relationships are two sided.The customer interacting with your brand is the side organizations tend to focus on, but equally important is how your brand interacts with the customer. 

Building Trust with Customers: Two Way Customer Relationships

Connecting your CRM’s ability to capture customer and prospect contact information, manage sales opportunities, administer support services, and initiate marketing campaigns with a platform designed for ease of use empowers your employees to engage with a customer in the right way, with the right information, and at the right time. This leads to trust between your brand the strengthening of the customer relationship. Conversations and relationships go both ways. All of the customer intelligence and account planning materials mean nothing if your brand is not engaging with your audiences in the right way. 

While you capture important data by tracking customer meetings, social media presence, customer likes and dislikes, previous history with the customer, and a host of other “magic” points of data, consider how your organization and its employees are engaging on the other side of the conversation. Are they responding to the customer’s social media presence with interesting solutions to problems? Are they providing helpful information to a customer in post-meeting followup? Are your employees using the customer intelligence they capture in their qualification interactions to tailor presentations and marketing materials to that customer’s unique needs? 

How to make your CRM more effective

The evolution of CRM software to include other technologies that can enable your organization to confidently answer yes to each one of those questions is what will set your brand apart from your competition. It will also enable your organization to  build much stronger relationships with your customers and ultimately accomplish the goals of business or digital transformation.

Combine your CRM with IdeaFORGE® Technology

Don’t let critical business information fall through the crack and get lost in the details. By integrating a communications technology like IdeaFORGE® into your CRM and other technological ecosystem applications, your organization will benefit from filling in the other half of the conversation. 

Like a CRM dashboard which can provide helpful information about the state of a customer relationship, building a IdeaFORGE® Content Encyclopedia® for your employees to draw upon, and have access to not only leads to massive productivity increases but also lays simply lays out the information for everything you could ever want to talk about within your organization.  

In the same way a CRM helps take the enormous amount of data a sales team can generate about customers by speaking and meeting with customers, engaging with prospects and conducting touchpoints with existing customer post sale, leveraging a technology that can to the same thing for the content your organization generates on a daily basis leads to massive business transformation improvements. Think of the content your organization creates, from marketing copy and slogans, to research and development insights and notes, sales positioning of product value add, employee training on demonstration procedures or use and the list goes on. All of this knowledge must be captured and stored to ensure your organization stays strong even as careers and employees change. 

IdeaFORGE® will give you the confidence that the business intelligence captured in your CRM can generate high quality on-brand messages that will resonate with any given audience member. Through the power of IdeaFORGE, your employee base will not be limited to a single media format. IdeaFORGE’s innovative technology is able to build content in most major media formats including: text, slide presentations, video, and audio. Given this veritable buffet of media choices at your organization’s disposal, you can be confident that an individual’s communication preferences (and how they interact with your brand) will not fall flat. Imagine being able to send out the same information to two people at the same company, but one person wants to see slides, and the other wants to watch a video. By harnessing IdeaFORGE® you can build that exact same piece of content both ways with the push of a button. 

Perhaps the intelligence in your CRM informs you that both people that that target company do not want to hear the same message, because they have different buyer personas, say one is in their marketing department and another is in IT. Using IdeaFORGE’s Content Encyclopedia® and the modular component IdeaBlocks, your employee can build a unique piece of content, informed by that CRM customer intelligence, to each person.

With more data created each year than in all of history up to this point, CRM’s powerful capabilities should be leveraged today more than ever. All of this extra data, however, functions as virtually worthless if employees cannot put it to effective use. A CRM paired with IdeaFORGE® will save an organization time and money as well as drive future sales through better targeted sales and marketing campaigns. This will ultimately deliver a better customer experience and lead to greater value creation for both your organization and the customer.

More Information about the Digital Transformation Process