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Top 7 Trends for Driving CRM

Updated: Jun 11

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been rebranded to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales

Top 7 Trends Driving CRM

Welcome to the age of the customer. As consumers of all stripes continued to move marketing away from its traditional push model and into the realm of social media, branding, and relationship building the use of CRM as simply a system of record will be severely challenged.

“I think the most fundamental change is, every 20 years or so, the technology changes to such an extreme that we enter these different Ages -- the Age of Information, the Age of Technology, the Age of the Internet -- and where Forrester says we are today is in this Age of the Customer where customers really control the conversation and the relationship they have with businesses,” says Kate Leggett, Forrester research’s CRM analyst, in an interview with “What this means is 10 years ago industry was in the driver’s seat and they could engage with customer on their terms. Now the insides have been turned out.”

Taken from Leggett’s February report last year, Navigate the Future of CRM In 2014, understanding the following seven trends will help CRM vendors and users better understand and meet the demands of this new savvy customer:

No.1: Companies will strive to become experience-driven

”CRM initiatives are often and correctly criticized as focusing too much on siloed, internal business processes in marketing, sales, support, the web channel, or the call center,” writes report author Kate Leggett. To counter this issue, Leggett sees more organizations adopting “a set of sound, repeatable practices that lead to excellence. You can advance your organization’s customer experience maturity by following a four-phased path: repair, elevate, optimize, and differentiate. Each phase requires employees to adopt new, increasingly more-sophisticated customer experience management practices that fix what’s broken and prevent future problems.”

No.2: Enterprises will embrace tools that create an outside-in perspective

Mobile and social are making marketing and customer experience (CX) ecosystems complicated. To counter this challenge, Leggett suggests organizations align their customer experience ecosystems. “That requires understanding customers’ deep needs, viewing interactions from the customer’s perspective, and socializing customer insights,” she writes writes.

There are four keys to this strategy:

  1. Ethnography - creating a descriptive account of social life and culture in a particular social system, based on observations of what people actually do;

  2. Personas - developing models of the key behaviors, attributes, motivations, and goals of a company's target customers;

  3. Customer journey maps - these documents visually illustrate a customer's processes, needs, and perceptions over the course of a relationship with a company; and

  4. 4. Ecosystem maps - these are visual representations of the relationships between the employees, partners, processes, policies, and technologies that support a customer journey.

No.3: The mobile mind shift will force CRM to evolve quickly

"Customers are experiencing a mobile mind shift: They expect thta any desired information or service is available, on any appropriate device, in context, at their moment of need, "writes Legget. Because of this, customers are increasingly short of patience with companies who cannot deliver. In 2014, mobile CRM solution support will continue to evolve rapidly heading into 2015 and beyond in order to meet these new demands.

"Technology vendors are rushing to provide solutions that work across all mobility technology platforms and support all device form factors such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, "says Leggett. Look for solutions that "write once, deploy on any device" to begin emerging on the CRM landscape.

No.4: Big Data will turn into customer insight

“Many firms struggle with the proliferation of data silos, an avalanche of big data, the demand for predictive analytics, and mobile platforms to support real-time digital customer experiences,” writes Leggett. It’s a hard complicated thing to do but, in 2014 and going into 2015, expect more organizations to ramp up efforts to turn big data into business insights and actionable knowledge.

No.5: Social will connect the customer lifecycle

“Social media can help enterprises support customers across all stages of the customer life cycle,” writes Leggett. “Yet, nearly 10 years into the social media boom, many executives still strategize about social backwards; they pick technologies such as Facebook or Twitter first instead of focusing on the goals they want to accomplish.”

This will change as organizations take a more strategic approach to capitalizing on social media.

No.6: Rapid adoption of cloud

According to Forrester’s Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2013, many enterprises have already replaced (17 percent) or plan to replace (11 percent) their on-premises CRM solutions with a SaaS alternative. “As the age of the customer arrives … Cloud technologies and services represent the fastest way for the business to reach new buyers and breathe new life into aging applications,” observes Leggett.

No.7: More companies will aspire to become more agile enterprises

Over time, customer systems of record and interaction have become inflexible, siloed, and “now present a serious barrier to many fast-moving companies.” Leggett expects more organizations will seek to understand and strengthen what Forrester calls the 10 dimensions of business agility:

  1. Market responsiveness

  2. Channel integration

  3. Knowledge dissemination

  4. Digital psychology

  5. Change management

  6. Business intelligence

  7. Infrastructure elasticity

  8. Process architecture

  9. Software innovation

  10. Sourcing and supply chain

“We’re still in the very early days of the customer ... but I have [kids] and they live their lives in a very different world than we do,” says Leggett. “It’s very much an online instant gratification instant connection type of world. We are in this brand new world of digital engagement and the rules are different.”

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