Why real-time CRM is becoming the norm

28th Oct 2014

How good is your business in using real-time data to give real time information and options to customers? Is it really that important to your customer relationships? It’s not a straightforward question. Not everything has to be real-time as an imperative.

Today’s connected customers expect to be able to 'pull real-time information' from companies and for choices to be pushed through to them proactively. They expect you to hold their hand through the customer journey, be it through a super intuitive interface, click to chat or guided online walkthroughs. If they need help, they expect you to sense that and respond appropriately.

They expect you to continue following them past that particular online experience to track how well the whole process performed from the customers point of view. The numbers around customers online research pre contacting a call centre are scary. They know you before you speak to them, and they expect the same back. When consumers go into a store or call up a call centre they expect companies to know that they have had an interaction with them in the recent past. That could have been an online chat session, or be an instore conversation.

Recent 'killer examples' of this need for real time data has been in the Click and Collect offers of retailers. Whether the customer orders online and picks the product up from a local store, or whether they order from the mobile phone and have it delivered to their door at a particular time the next day, they expect the whole process to run smoothly. The amount of real time information and communication it takes to make this work seamlessly is daunting. To make it a “good experience” is another level of real time data difficulty.

The table stakes here is providing consistent service across all channels. This means all data must be live across channels. If an item is 'chosen' from one channel it can’t show up as available on another channel. If an offer is made on one channel, it should be available on the other channels. Social listening is another example of live data in use. If a customer comments on social media that they are having trouble finding a product locally, real time CRM will pick this up and alerts you to their query, prompting you to interact. You may be even able to link this customer to an available or qualified employee in that local store.

If is true customer engagement it gives the customer a feeling of empowerment and enables you to talk to them as individuals in the moment.

But things are starting to get even more complicated. CRM professionals are now being asked to include IoT (The Internet of Things) and Big Data into their customer strategies further tying the system up in knots. Why? Because system are now not only being asked to intelligently manage mange business/customer relationships – but they are also being asked to integrate a whole host of disparate devices.

Getting down to basics has to be the answer. A large proportion of daily business problems lie in data – what companies know about individual transactions and how they can act on that knowledge. By having the right data at their fingertips, businesses can respond more quickly to changing markets, whilst ensuring customer satisfaction and quality of service is at the highest level.

So what data needs to be mined? The different types of data sources that stand out would typically be transactional data, customers’ online data, email/ social media, and other unstructured data that may be important to the process. Real time structured data needs access to a well architecture API, and unstructured data will require time and good analysts.

Businesses need to access unstructured data to understand what is happening underneath the metrics. This analysis will provide a useful map of what businesses can do to address problems.

Real-time CRM isn’t unusual

The use of real-time CRM is becoming the norm and is turning traditional services on their heads.

Take the humble taxi for example. The Hailo taxi app for example, links the user’s physical location with the location of the taxi cab – linking these two sources of data to create a new service. The app has put trust back in the hands of both parties – providing transparent payment and accountability. It is little wonder the app has now spread to over a dozen cities across three continents. The halo model would work for a host of other services, from plumbing to meter reading. Nearest plumber? Nearest qualified Installer? Done.

CRM can also help with the mechanism of billing. Bills are usually issued after a service has been consumed or a purchase made. We as consumers are nine times out of ten not prepared for them.

So wouldn’t it be useful to have a real-time update alerting us if our electricity usage has gone up dramatically or we’ve started to use more water because of the dry weather – so it would be wise to cut back. Suddenly utility companies become helpful to the customer, and not just the purveyors of a service we need. Look to see how connecting communications to live data triggers can help you manage the customer experience, or indeed even create new customer experiences. Avoiding bill shock is one extreme but telling you that the 10% energy you saved today due to automated heat management system planted “this tree” might be very welcome.

Business has got to get realistic about real-time CRM. Real time isn’t for real-times sake, you have to have objectives for it, and implementing such strategies should have clear customer impacts. It would take a foolish company to ignore it.

Paul Sweeney is chief product officer at VoiceSage.


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