Companies must focus on how to drive a better customer experience. Simple linear transactions are no longer the norm. The days of prospects doing a linear give and take with a sales department until the deal was either closed or fell through are long gone. Today, customers, regardless of B2B or B2C, will enter any discussion with a merchant already armed with tremendous knowledge. In the retail space, over two thirds of all consumers that are looking to make a purchase have already leaned on digital channels to educate themselves. CRM systems cannot start compiling data and information on a possible customer when the first contact is made.
Some of the salient points associated with CRM systems:
Ever increasing touch points. The digital revolution has seen the number of touch points between customer and supplier expand in reach and complexity. Whether it is online, via mobile, call centers, social networks, in person or even by fax, the touch points that suppliers must be cognizant of are ever expanding. CRM systems must keep pace and be capable of processing this variety. They must not only take information but empower those using the solutions to understand the nuances of two-way communications throughout these channels.
Focus on context and less on linear transactions. This two-way communication and array of touch points is vital when it comes to creating the correct contextual relationship. CRM systems must be capable of painting the picture of each customer, not simply a linear view of each touch point between the customer and the supplier. Why did a customer make a prior purchase, what was the context, what could be the reason for the customer reaching out again, are there changes in the context that will drive behavior and the list goes on. This will paint a more complete picture of the needs and motivation of the customer and allow the supplier to create an optimal experience…which will hopefully translate to greater conversions.
Data comes from anywhere – be prepared to capture it. Context also requires new data. CRM systems must have the flexibility to pull in both structured and unstructured data in order to create a more complete contextual picture. The data sources are also dynamic; the ability to turn on or off certain data sources will be crucial. As the customer dynamics will be constantly evolving so will the needs for the CRM systems to keep pace. It will fall on the line of business users who will need this control to maximize their understanding of the context for customer relations.
As the need for better customer experiences will become the norm, the systems that support these needs will have to keep up. CRM systems will remain at the epicenter of this function. The question for vendors in the space is whether they can keep up with the ever growing complexities. Users of CRM will continue to demand that the systems provide a rich and contextual view of the customer.
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