I’ve talked in a previous blog about the changing face of CRM but it’s a topic that I keep coming back to, after all shouldn’t customers be at the heart of all our businesses? When I talk to our customers about the need to manage their stakeholders, whoever they may be, many still believe that a traditional vertical point specific solution best fits their needs. I think that as a result many organisations are missing a trick – and potential revenues.
For me, CRM has an image problem. When CRM solutions initially came onto the market they were primarily aimed at sales and general customer relationship management processes. They were perceived as ideal for companies with a large customer base and came with a price tag to match.
Times have changed – and with it so have customers and CRM solutions. Fast-forward to today and any company who needs to manage relationships and information those relationships generate, whatever vertical they operate in, can use a CRM solution to their financial benefit.
The beauty of today’s CRM solutions lies in their flexibility. No longer are they restricted to managing customer relationships, today they can apply the same logic to any stakeholder – from members, contributors and investors, to vendors and suppliers – if you have a relationship with them, CRM solutions can manage it profitably (more on profitability in a minute).
This flexibility also extends to its ability to be customised to the needs of a company. I’m not talking about costly reprogramming but simple menu-based changes that can adapt the solution to make it fit. Its ability to adapt is also why today’s CRM solutions can scale to grow as the organisation grows.
Flexibility is also a key driver in the deployment of CRM solutions. While many companies choose to host their CRM solution on premise, the advent of the cloud means that companies can benefit from dynamic, pay-as-you-go pricing models, with an instant ‘on’. It also means that these applications can be accessed anywhere on any device – mobile or not.
A driver of the development of the modern-day CRM solution was actually based on how good the software was in managing customer relationships. Soon users were demanding that CRM accommodate functionality from more than just the customer service department.
Now, using a simple and recognisable front-end, CRM applications can integrate and manage data from finance, marketing, online, sales, and product development. We even have a customer using it as a trading platform in the insurance market. And that simple, usable front-end means lower training overheads and increased accuracy because everyone already knows how to use it.
Let’s take a look at the not-for-profit vertical sector. For years, charities have relied on bespoke systems to fundraise, yet a recent report by Nomensa that found that the online experience for people visiting three of the UK’s biggest charities was losing them vital donations.
A CRM solution, in this case, could seamlessly integrate into the charities website and back-office systems. It would be able to provide a 360 degree view of the supporter’s donation history, while managing their details. Combining this information with social media applications and the charity could have provided itself with a way to continue to engage the donator in the future.
As companies look to manage an ever increasing number of relationships, which are made through an ever increasing number of methods, CRM is able connect these potential profit-generating activities efficiently and to everyone’s maximum benefit.