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Next generation CRM for next generation businesses

24th Oct 2017
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Once upon a time customer relationship management was a very different being.  This was pre-CRM when everything was done face to face. 

No I’m not talking about the dim and distant past in which everybody seemingly lived in cottages with roses round the door and the baker, the butcher, and even the candlestick maker not only knew their customers but knew everything about their customers. Life as seen through rose tinted glasses never quite matches up to reality and whilst it is true that such levels of personal service may have been in existence, even in those days there were still plenty of itinerant trades-people whose sole motive was profit.

So, let’s fast forward away from those days, through the Industrial Revolution and all the way into the 1970s when computer technology is introduced into business circles. In those early days Contact Management, as it was called then,  was all about holding information such as customers’ and contacts’ names and addresses in a personal and individual way , noting likes and dislikes in an effort to boost sales.

As computers started taking their place in business, CRM, as the technology became known, became more digitised, gobbling up facts in an effort to create customer understanding. This was especially the case in B2C scenarios and, as with any business concept in its infancy, mistakes were made, turning customers into numbers and de-personalising the relationship.

CRM - setting people at the heart of business

Are we being cynical? Perhaps yes, perhaps no! Certainly, depending on each organisation and their business sphere, the relationship element within each CRM varied widely. However, CRM has grown up particularly in B2C. We are now in the early throes of the fourth Industrial Revolution and that puts people at the heart of every approach and every transaction. CRM nowadays isn’t simply about data; rather its focus is firmly on building understanding and relationships in order to improve customer outcomes.

Interestingly, this ties CRM firmly into the Next Generation Organisation concept as highlighted in Building a Culture of Innovation.  Next Generation Organisations understand that in order to deliver differentiated experiences they need to focus on three core elements of innovation; intelligence, collaboration and adaptability.

Why intelligence? Quite simply, because the business landscape has moved on. The change has been driven partly by the backlash from the ‘customer as a profit centre’ scandals seen in the last recession, partly in response to changes in technology and the rise in worldwide disruptors, and partly in response to a change in employee and customer expectations as driven by Generation Z. As a result, business has moved from the ‘what’ to the ‘how’, looking to deliver differentiated experiences and innovative solutions on a more individual basis.

Delivering the solution requires a deep understanding of customers, something which goes far beyond all statistics. It’s not enough to know that someone buys a loaf of bread on a Monday. Next Generation Organisations want to know the answers to a whole swathe of questions including why that loaf is chosen, why on a Monday, what influences the purchase decision, how the loaf is going to be used, what other products are bought in conjunction with that loaf and does the purchase represent the perfect solution to a problem or merely the best alternative available at the time. Only with that level of understanding can businesses really look to deliver a product which meets with customer needs.

Next Generation CRM is perfectly poised to solve those questions, using a range of interactive and people friendly technologies in order to help businesses to develop understanding. Also, it ties in to the Next Generation collaboration ideal of bringing a broad range of people and organisations, including customers, into the mix when developing innovative solutions. Truly building relationships with your customers isn’t just a one-way street. Encouraging interactions and connectivity gives customers a say in developing targeted products and services; thereby enhancing their satisfaction.  Customers like to be able to give their opinions. 

Once you have true customer intelligence and with your customers collaborating with you it is far more likely that you will be able to deliver on adaptability, bringing products and services to the marketplace when they are needed to deliver real solutions.

Make no mistake, Next Generation Organisations are firmly at the heart of innovation transformation, leading the way in delivering real solutions and outstanding customer experiences. And at the heart of this transformation sits Next Generation CRM, building understanding and customer relationships in order to deliver crucial innovation strategies and vision.

This article was written jointly by Mike Driver from logiCRM and Jo Geraghty from Culture Consultancy.

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