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According to a May 2015 market report from Gartner, global customer relationship management (CRM) software totaled $23.2 billion in 2014, up 13.3% from 20.4 billion in 2013. The report also notes that the larger CRM players continue to improve their feature set through acquisitions.
In our data driven economy, the importance of CRM for the modern business continues to rise. Companies that want to maximize their CRM ROI should pay attention to some of the emerging trends as we move into 2016. Three of the biggest are detailed below, along with some best practices for those who want to leverage these trends for a competitive advantage:
1. Systems integration
In the past, CRM solutions were typically built as stand-alone products. They didn’t “talk” to other systems, and instead acted as repositories for customer information that were not easily relatable to other metrics.
Cloud-based technolgy, like Microsoft’s Office 365 platform, has completely transformed the CRM industry. Tools like this offer cutomized cloud applications that seamlessly integrate with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform to boost business efficiency.
For example, when your CRM system is connected to your Document Management system, your sales team can quickly create, share and access the right information at the right time to share with their clients, all in one user friendly dashboard.
Similarly, aligning your CRM tool with your content marketing strategy allows for team collaboration and conversion optimization. For example, information can be shared between sales and marketing so that sales can better target their messaging based on things like customer lifecycle stage or previous engagements with your brand. Some of these processes can also be automated saving valuable time and resources.
Traking and sharing customer data across platforms in real-time is essential to staying ahead of the game but what’s more essential is achieving an optimal user experience through seamless integration.
2. CRM for business intelligence
Traditional CRM solutions were mainly data warehouses. Companies had lists of prospects, current customers, and past customers, and needed to keep track of basic individual information. Companies had to export and manually massage the data in order to find business intelligence insights. This method is of course time consuming and open to errors or misunderstandings if not performed correctly.
Advanced CRM solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics provide users with actual insights into customer behaviors, both on the individual and aggregated level. Such insights help businesses spot strengths and weaknesses in how they connect with users and the users’ corresponding actions. Different steps of the sales process can be compared to each other, so problems in the process can be spotted and fixed.
Easy-to-use but powerful analytics capabilities should be a cornerstone of a modern CRM solution. Integrating CRM data with other solutions exponentially enhances the power of such analytics, as new correlations can be found that would otherwise remain hidden. CRM integration with for example accounting software can expose trends in customer-facing activities and the broader revenue numbers. And mobile access to all of the data means informed decisions can be made on the go.
3. A laser-like focus on the user experience
Software solutions across industries are constantly tweaking the UI to ensure it’s easy to use and there will be widespread adoption among staff. A capital investment in such a solution is wasted if it’s not used! For CRM, there is emphasis on presenting the user with a tailored experience, one that is in tune with the user’s primary job functions and also their level of technical expertise.
This trend is evident in the current Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution that presents a personalized dashboard for users based on their exact needs while allowing the creation of complex dashboards if needed. Managers can adjust the dashboard to provide both single-user and broader metrics, and sales staff can tailor it to their specific product or geographic area. Removing superfluous information from the screen helps boost productivity and keep staff focused on the task at hand. Advanced solutions such as Dynamics are also designed to remove extra clicks, streamline processes, and present a logical business-based navigation.
CRM is rapidly changing to meet the needs of dynamic and competitive businesses. Can you keep up? If you want a customized CRM implementation plan that’s right for your company, then talk to TechBlocks expert today.
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