Future of CRM Software – More Engaged Relationships

When SalesForce.com launched its SaaS or online CRM in 1999, the CRM industry faced a major shakedown that saw small business and large companies adopt CRM, as cheaper cloud-based solutions eat up the traditional markets of expensive client-premise vendors. It’s one of the biggest disruptive trends in CRM, a disruption that continues to this day and shared by Lou Guercia, President and CEO, Scribe Software, in his Forbes interview on the future of cloud CRM. “The cloud is driving faster release & upgrade cycles overall. Customers use cloud applications in their everyday lives and those consumer applications typically have rapid response to feedback.”

But cloud or web based is not the future of CRM; it’s the NOW. The future lies behind the cloud spurred by customer-driven integration that is fast reshaping CRM and software reviewcomparison. Yet again, we’re seeing a disruptive CRM trend in the magnitude of the cloud earthquake in the early 2000s, stimulated by exciting developments in these four areas:

The Future of CRM Software

1. CRM will go fully social

Today, we talk about simple Social CRM and Customer Enterprise 2.0 concepts, but we’re barely scratching the full potential of social media to CRM. Tracking likes and mentions are just the beginning. In the future, social media (in conjunction with widespread mobile adoption) presents a rich source of more insightful customer data that current opt-in CRM platforms can only dream of.

Soon, we expect CRM demo tools to use social media for two main uses.

Profile leads

Digital expert and bestselling author Brian Solis calls it the “human algorithm.” Social media will give CRM a new level of customer insights (free or cheap even) and engagement.

Vendors will develop CRM tools that track customer preferences down to their favorite ice cream or sentiment on specific social issues. As social APIs connect more people to businesses—example, you log in at a webstore using your Facebook or Twitter account—businesses are presented with a rich source of personal data. These data are almost impossible to solicit in an opt-in CRM; but, today, thanks to social network sites, people are unwittingly (or maybe not) sharing more of their private life with businesses.

Already, we’re seeing early adopters like Demandbase and Nimble, which use proprietary databases to track real-time social data for leads. We will see more social scoring based on demographics and digital behavioral attributes and auto-matching of these leads with extended profiles across social and traditional channels. More profound leads can be generated based on the prospect’s topics of interest, sentiment and intent.

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Furthermore, these leads will be funneled in in varying degrees of relationships, such as: some prospects will be candidates for brand ambassadors; some as loyal customers; some as transactional customers; and some more prospects that require incubation.

Engage leads

Social CRM will tap into the power of crowdsourcing to outsource ideas, content and other tasks to customers or prospects.  It will be a new height of engagement, where customers lead the way or stake ownership in some parts of brand or campaign development.

Crowdsourcing CRM will arm brand ambassadors with tools they can use to spread the word. Likewise, CRM will crowdsource customers and prospects for field research, brainstorm ideas and even use them for content. In fact, the last one is already spawning a finer kind of content marketing, which is our next “future area.”

2. CRM will fine tune content marketing

Call it content targeting, it’s the finer point of content marketing.  The new CRM tools will collate and curate content by customers to spur conversion rate. These tools allow a straightforward adoption of existing but disconnected content posted by customers, arrange them into meaningful topics to attract customer’s interest.

These new CRM software will not only talk the language of customers, but talk in their exact words. News aggregators are already using this tactic to talk about topics; CRM will use customer-generated content to talk about products, specifically, their memorable and share-able stories about the product. Beyond content curation, CRM will make publishers out of marketers. It will supply customers’ stories, testimonials and sentiments that can be weaved into original stories and resonate with the audience.

CRM content targeting

Demandbase’ idea of CRM content targeting

3. Laser-focused data will be more important than big data in CRM

The sheer number of opt-in and even social data from several digital sources are meaningless if they don’t present insights. It’s the old maxim: quality vs. quantity. Big data is for policymakers and demographic surveys. Laser-focused data is for CRM, which will make more robust analytics possible.

CRM proprietary tools will allow websites to sort visitors by name, industry, company, account status, among others. Leveraging this data, businesses can deliver targeted content to complete a more solid funnel of attracting, engaging, converting and managing prospects.  For example, you have an active arts community account in one of your social networks and you’ve expressed your passion for black and white themes in that group.  When you shop online around for, say, a coffee maker, a CRM tool can trace your black-and-white passion and highlight a line of artsy black-and-white coffee makers in its site.

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Ad networks are already using this technology based on website visits; with CRM, there will be full social network integration. We expect these advanced CRM tools to pool information from IP address registries, open social network APIs and third-party data providers (like subscriptions) to associate you and your digital attributes and extensions with a unique account.

4. More mobile CRM adoption

More consumers are using their mobile device to access the Internet, but it doesn’t mean they’re leaving their desktop. ComScore said the trend towards mobile Internet is more from single to multi-platform (desktop only to desktop and mobile), rather than a device shift (desktop to mobile). At least for now.

This ComScore table shows an expanding mobile adoption at the expense of desktop in as short as six months.

 

CRM software platform split

CRM mobile is hampered by the cumbersome of screen keyboards and smaller screens. But all that will change due to the confluence of three industries: mobile device manufacturers, social apps developers and Natural Learning Understanding technology.

Mobile device manufacturers are creating more computing power, larger screens and accessories that mimic desktop convenience like Bluetooth-enabled portable keyboard. These developments can only spur more CRM adoption by mobile users.

As more people turn to mobile social apps, we expect more CRM vendors developing their own mobile apps, too, to follow the fishes, so to speak.

But it’s the advances in the Natural Learning Understanding (NLU) technology that CRM will be fully integrated in mobile. NLU is the engine behind Siri, the first widely used commercial application of this technology. With more intuitive Siris in mobile devices sooner than later, there will be less tapping and typing required for CRM. As a result, we can expect real-time, more responsive and adaptive customer engagement.

With these future developments also come more industry-specific tools for niche systems like real estate CRM and insurance CRM.

CONCLUSION

CRM is on the verge of another disruptive trend that promises deeper and more profitable relationships for both businesses and customers. But it requires a strategy of integration and early adoption to take full advantage of customer data. Failure to align these customer insights with your business targets not only can spell missed opportunities, but a blow to your future.

Category: CRM Software, guide

One Comment »

  • Nurture says:

    One thing marketers must understand is that now we are dealing with knowledgeable customers who are well aware. As a marketer your focus should be to feed them with the information they are looking for. This is where you must come up with a strong & robust content curation & content marketing strategy.

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