CRM is now a thoroughly mainstream application, with up to 80 per cent of medium and large UK organisations either using the software or planning to in the near future, according to a recent survey by Computing.
One-fifth are running a formal CRM, integrated with all back-office functions (finance, marketing, manufacturing, HR, order entry, warehousing and transportation) through their ERP system, while 25 per cent have a CRM that integrates with marketing and finance functions.
However, one-quarter of the respondents are still using contact management systems or spreadsheets to manage customer records, meaning that all links to marketing, order placement and finance are necessarily manual. Asked why they have not deployed a formal CRM system, budgetary restrictions and concerns about integration with existing systems were cited.
So, what are they missing?
In sales and marketing, better customer service and retention figures topped the list, while 43 per cent cited the ability to target marketing as a major benefit.
Over the business as a whole, savings in time and effort achieved by reduced duplication were mentioned by 59 per cent, and improved communications between sales and financial departments - crucial in reducing errors in areas such as account status and age of debt that have a direct impact on the customer - by 45 per cent.
More than two-thirds reported an improvement in the quality of information available for strategic decision-making, with 34 per cent saying that superior forecasting has led to better cash flow and business decisions. Sales forecasts are one of the key metrics on which critical decisions are made, and any tool that improves the accuracy and visibility of these figures is enormously beneficial to decision-makers.
Businesses are changing and CRM must adapt to the new decentralised mobile world.
Asked about developments they would like to see, more than half chose deployment to mobile devices, allowing sales teams to update customer information directly from their smartphones. Enhanced customer service options were another popular option, and 35 per cent said they would benefit from improved support desk management.
Another change in the business environment is the social media revolution. This has given rise to ‘social CRM' software, which has the ability to pull in information from websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Rather than solely handling data about customers, social CRM allows organisations to leverage conversations and relationships with customers and suppliers, and also the customers of their customers, and so on.
The future of CRM, it seems, is social and mobile.
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