How can CRM improve today’s customer experience?
It has never been more important for businesses to choose the right option for how, and where, they store their customer data. This year we’ve seen plenty of cyber hacking headlines which have proven just how crucial it is for organisations to have a secure infrastructure in place. Earlier this month, Tesco Bank had a bad case of the Monday morning blues as it dominated the headlines with the news 40,000 of its customers’ accounts had been hacked.
With fraudsters reaching new heights of sophistication, keeping customer data safe should of course be the first priority for all businesses. But there are other considerations to make when thinking about the experience they can offer customers. With more ways than ever for customers to interact with businesses, the challenge is to unify all the touchpoints and offer a seamless customer experience. To truly deliver this, they need to invest in the right technology which enables them to build a 360 degree view of their customers.
Customer experience has become the defining point of difference
Customers today are now more knowledgeable and connected than ever before, using an array of different digital channels to contact companies with questions and complaints. They expect the same level of service from their banks as they do their shops, restaurants and couriers. No longer do customers discriminate, they form their expectations through comparing and contrasting brands – irrespective of the industry.
This means customer experience has evolved from being an afterthought for many businesses to a crucial component of their strategies. Indeed, a Gartner report revealed 89% of business leaders expect to compete solely on customer experience by 2017. CRM solutions are a good example of how businesses can achieve the Holy Grail of really knowing their customers, from first interaction to an ongoing relationship built on trust and satisfaction.
What do today’s businesses want from their CRM solutions?
Since its inception, the CRM industry has been defined by legacy vendors. But the tide is changing. The requirements for managing customer data are far more complex than they were 20 years ago. We know businesses need the flexibility to manage their customer data in the way that suits them.
From working with companies across a number of industries, we know that our customers want a dynamic CRM provider who offers them a wealth of insight into their customer’s behaviour and habits. Today’s successful companies will be the ones who differentiate themselves because they understand doing the same thing they’ve always done will only produce the same results. The companies that will succeed in this era of empowered, intelligent customers will do so because they create better experiences and better relationships with their customers.
For CRM providers, the opportunity is to provide the most tailored, flexible solution possible to each customer which enables them to do this. The complex business environment mixed with the growth of the empowered consumer has created a milieu where a ‘one size fits all’ solution doesn’t deliver what’s needed. No one wants to be seen as the common denominator anymore, so a solution built for this purpose is simply built to fail.
Keeping pace with changing business demands
How and where to store customer data has become increasingly complex in recent years. Our belief is that CRM providers need to have a range of options available to allow businesses to choose the one which best suits their business, security and regulatory needs. For example, modern cloud environments from Amazon and Google are more affordable, flexible, reliable, and secure than any vendor’s proprietary cloud. Private and hybrid cloud offerings should also be a choice for organisations.
In addition, we know a big challenge our customers face is the integration of platforms across divisions. Legacy CRM technology was built to support separate, siloed business functions. Businesses now want the freedom to deploy in the way that best suits their IT requirements and enables employees to work efficiently across departments.
If a business wants to offer a truly unified customer experience, it needs to have the right technology in place which can deliver both an efficient back-end system and a seamless customer-facing experience.
A new dawn for CRM solutions
When looking for a CRM provider, all businesses should seek one who works with them as a trusted partner, and provides them with the tools they need to build long lasting and progressive customer relationships.
With Gartner predicting the CRM industry will be worth $37 billion by the end of this year, it’s clear our industry has a bright future ahead. 2017 will open new horizons, and I’m excited to see how we can keep evolving to enable organisations to deliver their best ever customer experience.
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Senior Director of Marketing, EMEA, SugarCRM
Daniel Heck is Senior Director of Marketing EMEA for SugarCRM and responsible for strategic and tactical marketing and communications activities in the region. Heck was formerly Senior Director EMEA Marketing with Canadian Solar, a leading global solar company...