The idea of customer relationship management or CRM has come a very long way in a few short years. The convergence of easy Software-as-a-Service systems, powerful cloud-based networking, smaller and more efficient processors, and high-capacity data handling have brought a wide spectrum of new resources to businesses. CRM tools help businesses to reach out to customers, and to build intelligent interfaces that keep track of who a customer is and what he or she likes to buy. More and more businesses are jumping on the bandwagon, as intense competition in many markets means that those who don’t upgrade to high-tech business intelligence tools may get left behind. Here are some of the big possibilities with CRM that professionals and market insiders are looking at for 2013 and the years ahead.
CRM and ‘Intense Interactions’
While many businesses have been building data-driven CRM models, experts expect that the coming year will bring more of a big move toward ‘socializing’ with customers, which means actually using all of that good CRM data in practical ways. One way to think of this is that rather than remaining ‘wallflowers’ with a lot of passively held information, companies will be more willing to get out on the floor and dance, actually using that data to introduce their products and services to more customers in new, effective ways.
CRM and User-Friendly Interfaces
Another expectation is that companies will use more sophisticated CRM systems that include easier interfaces for the customer or ‘end user.’ Articles like this CIO.com post detail some of the reasons why new interfaces need to be build interfaces that are accessible for the customer. A lot of this has to do with the ‘digital exhaustion’ of a world where more and more of what the average consumer does is online or in front of a screen.
CRM and Mobile Adaptations
Lots of those who are looking closely at the future of CRM tools largely expect that more and more of these will move toward mobile phone and smart phone interfaces. Where telecom providers have already built extensive networks of towers to support national 3G and 4G networks, it makes a lot of sense for many different kinds of technology products to migrate toward these networks, and toward smaller devices that are always at the user’s fingertips. For CRM, that may mean eliciting more feedback from customers through their mobile phones and finding smart ways to capture this data to send it back to the company’s own internal interface.
Cloud-Based CRM and Central Data Systems
Another common point that many industry insiders talk about is the emerging use of hosted CRM systems, such as cloud-based systems that back up data to a secure remote location, where central data resources support large amounts of data and may serve many different clients. All sizes of businesses are pursuing this kind of outsourcing, shopping around for vendor products that feature “access through the cloud” and a model where the storage end point is isolated from the very mobile marketplace, where costumers might buy at multiple physical business locations, or again, through their own devices such as smart phones and tablets.
CRM and Phone Integration
Last, but not the least, there’s the CRM telephony integration. Small and medium sized businesses will increasingly take advantage of their ability to blend visual CRM interfaces with telephone services. Such a CRM-enabled phone system empowers a business to improve the quality of its customer interactions over voice platforms by getting real-time information about a caller. The latest versions of virtual PBX software have the capability of integrating CRM software with any phone system (VoIP/SIP-compliant IP phone, softphone, analog telephone adapter (ATA) or IP gateway) and offers a “rich calling” interface to make and manage all of the business calls in an all-in-one desktop (or mobile) application. Ringio’s VoIP-integrated CRM options are good examples of how a combination of voice and digital data can improve the customer service and sales elements of a business.
Justin Stoltzfus is a freelance writer covering technology and business solutions at Techopedia and Business Finance Store, as well as Ringio’s blog, focusing on emerging trends in IT services.
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