Customer relationship management (CRM) has come a long way since ACT! burst onto the business scene with contact management software in 1986. Companies continue to invest heavily in CRM systems to deepen their understanding of customers and to better engage with them. But as 1to1 Media senior writer Judith Aquino points out in this week's feature story, "6 Misconceptions That Will Drag Down Your CRM Strategy," inaccurate data, data silos, and fragmented technology implementations are among the challenges companies continue to encounter that can hinder CRM strategies.For instance, as Aquino notes, while many companies use CRM data in their sales efforts, the use of CRM data is often overlooked by other parts of the organization, such as customer care. Customer profile information that's housed in a CRM platform can enable customer care agents to obtain a deeper understanding about each customer being supported, including their product ownership and transaction history. Gaining a more comprehensive view about each customer can allow agents to deliver more personalized and relevant support which, in turn, can help boost customer satisfaction and strengthen loyalty.
Meanwhile, complementary marketing automation tools are enabling salespeople and other customer-facing employees to use CRM data more intelligently. I spoke recently with Hampus Jakobsson, co-founder & CEO at Brisk, a sales productivity software provider whose software wraps around other CRM and marketing automation systems such as Salesforce and Marketo to help inform B2B and B2C salespeople when it's the right time to follow up with a customer or prospect based on where they stand in the pipeline.
In addition, retailers and companies in other industries are increasingly tapping analytics tools that are either tied to or embedded into CRM systems. Dave Nash, a director in the customer experience practice at West Monroe Partners, says retailers are increasingly using analytics tools that are embedded into CRM systems to help company leaders to determine why a set of customers behaved in a particular way as well as for predictive modeling.
As companies strive to become more customer-centric, they're increasingly looking to leverage their CRM platforms in new and different ways. What are some additional methods companies are applying to take CRM to the next level?