10 CRM Trends to Watch

Customer Relationship Management
Customer Experience
CRM is in the spotlight. According to a recent Gartner survey of CEOs, respondents rated CRM as a top priority in terms of avenues for growth, followed by e-commerce.

CRM is in the spotlight. According to a recent Gartner survey of CEOs, respondents rated CRM as a top priority in terms of avenues for growth, followed by e-commerce. Similarly, Gartner found that increasing customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, and revenue are the top three CRM goals for 2012.

During their opening keynote at the Gartner Customer 360 Summit this morning, Gartner's Gene Alvarez, research vice president, and Ed Thomson, vice president and distinguished analyst, shared 10 CRM-related trends to watch through 2020 for companies that want to harness their CRM strategy for growth.Economy: Everyone's still worried about the economy, yet CRM spending is growing. Companies are being "forced" by customers to launch CRM initiatives, supported by CRM technologies.

Globalization: In 2012 the worldwide GDP growth is expected to be just over 3 percent on average. Most CRM spending worldwide will align with local economic growth.

Self-service: We've become a self-service society. As a result, companies need to align Web customer service and transactional self-service. For example, if a customer is online and has a question, offer Web chat to assist the customer in real time in his current channel; don't make the customer switch channels by forcing him to call the contact center mid-interaction. Serve customers wherever they like.

Customer experience: Three of the things that matter most to customers right now in terms of customer experience are value, reputation, and trust.

Cloud: Companies are turning to the cloud for collaboration, context, crowdsourcing, and more. Consequently, they can focus on results and outcomes instead of focusing on technology.

Social: There is an explosion of social networks; many with multiple millions of members. Companies need to move beyond simply taking an operational or analytical approach to CRM and harness social CRM. It's the most customer-centric of the three.

Mobile: Apps are transforming the way we do things, from getting news and entertainment to finding a place to eat to the way do our work. Mobile payment will change things further. And the intersection of the social, mobile, digital, and physical worlds provides context never before available.

Big Data: An IBM survey of CMOs found that more than 70 percent of respondents feel underprepared for Big Data. Companies need to harness the diversity of information that Big Data provides to better understand customers and their actions, as well as the potential implications of those actions (e.g., likelihood to recommend or churn).

The Internet of things: About 50 percent of Internet connections are made by "things" (e.g., devices of every sort). SF Park, for example, is an app San Franciscans can download to find a parking space downtown; the spaces each contain a device that signals its availability. Organizations should consider how this type of connectivity might apply to their business and customer experience.

Privacy regulation: Gartner predicts that online marketing will be regulated by 2015. Today, businesses have to walk the fine line between customer empowerment and privacy. Customers want everything to be easy, but want their information protected; they want companies to respect their privacy. Business leaders have to figure out what shade of gray is right for their organization.