According to Gartner, the market for Customer Relationship Management software grew from $16B to $18B attaining a 12.5 percent growth rate from 2011 to 2012.
It was also reported that when it comes to business applications, CRM is clearly outpacing the rest of the industry. Gartner revealed that the market growth in 2012 was three times the average for all enterprise software, and highlighted how CRM is at the eye of the Nexus of Forces storm (convergence of social, mobility and cloud computing).
This increase in demand heated up vendor competition and prompted leading vendors such as Salesforce, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft to offer new features and functions. But do these new features and functions really meet the needs of a company?
Going back, the primary purpose of CRM software is to streamline all major areas of customer interactions which include managing contacts, setting appointments, monitoring a marketing campaign, handling customer service, and numerous other tasks.
“Today, as we become accustomed to a real-time, data rich world the existing enterprise applications have to adapt — including customer relationship management software,” said Jamie Grenney of Gigaom.
While ROI will always be the key metric for businesses, here are some of the functions (based from our leads’ requirements and from our own experience) which businesses really need today and can contribute to fully maximize the investment in their CRM software:
Integration, integration, integration
“Data integration is critical,” shares Macel Legaspi, marketing director of Exist.
“Since a lot of data are in silos, CRMs now should have more integrations such as for example Inside View for Sugar to allow marketers and sales have a quick view of other data, such as size of company, organizational chart or social media interactions.”
Integration with social media applications — The worldwide explosion of social media usage has changed the way companies and customers interact. To optimize the power of social interactions to connect and get closer to their customers, businesses need to integrate their traditional CRMs with social media platforms.
“The integration of social media and CRM technology will give businesses an unprecedented ability to build deep relationships with their customers within a few years”, said Gartner.
Integration with marketing automation tools — Dealing with and managing massive consumer data everyday is already a lot of work. It’s important especially for us marketers to automate some of our process to save time and achieve higher productivity. We need a CRM that can do more integration with our email marketing efforts as well as analytics and other customer service tools.
Integration with existing platforms — Depending on what industry they’re involved with, some businesses would want an integration with their existing systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, inventory management system, or event contact center applications.
Today’s businesses are increasingly on the move. ‘Anytime anywhere’ accessibility to information has never been more important. The acceleration of the mobile workforce is driving the need for enterprise applications such as CRM to develop mobile apps. Mobility empowers your sales force with real-time access to customer data from any web-enabled device which in result enables higher productivity without hassles.
KISS (Keep it Straight and Simple)
Ease-of-use is by far the most critical component of any system, simply because the biggest reason for most failed implementations is poor user adoption. CRM software ‘ease of use’ is a subjective opinion, however, can nonetheless be measured for cost and user impact. According to a study, 72% of CRM users said they’d trade theirs in for something more user-friendly. Others indicated that most CRM software is difficult to use, especially in the areas of system integration and reporting.
The key maybe is to keep it simple. Use familiar interface, target non-tech users and focus more not only on developing new features but how to make them easy to use. Remember that CRM users want to see all the recent activity of a record in one glance(without going through numerous steps) and perform tasks quickly and efficiently.
Intelligence not only Automation
A CRM application is a centralised warehouse of information. But more than capturing and storing the data, it is about what you do with the data that’s more important.
Businesses need to efficiently and effectively analyze their key business data, and turn this information into actionable insights to improve customer relationships.
“CRMs should constantly uncover everything it can about your prospects and customers. It should monitor website updates, news, public filings, posts to social networks, technology vendors, job openings and new hires,” said Grenney.
The use of analytical tools in CRM Solutions can take into account profiling customers based on their behavior, segmenting markets and predicting customer purchases based on past purchase information and demographic data, as well as identifying opportunities for new services.
There are now lots of CRM software options available on the market today. We just have to remember that for an implementation to achieve sustained success, the CRM software technology must be closely aligned with the organization’s CRM strategy as well.
How about you, what features / functions are you looking for in a CRM software? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.