Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has changed. Traditionally it was used as a tool by the Sales team to manage prospects from lead to opportunity to forecast, but as new channels have emerged and buying habits have changed, CRM has become much more complex.
In the world of omnichannel, companies have had to adapt their business models. They are having to take a multichannel approach to sales that seeks to provide the customer with a seamless experience whether they are shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a bricks and mortar store.
The way in which these channels have developed over time means that in many cases, each one has a separate infrastructure, so one system is managing the online sales and a different one is managing the call centre, for example. In order to be successful, companies must adapt their business systems to suit the omnichannel age.
How it used to be
Traditionally, business software had two elements. CRM – where the sales guys managed the “Prospects”; and ERP – where everyone else managed the “Customers”.
CRM’s core functionality was made up of three components: Lead – opportunity – forecast. The Sales team would add a lead, turn it into an opportunity, and then forecast that opportunity. Once they turned into a customer, they were passed to the ERP system / team, where the order was created, fulfilled and accounted for.
What’s the problem?
The problem with using fragmented systems like this means a lack of visibility at the point of contact with the customer. Some common complaints that may arise in this type of situation:
“They got my bill wrong”
“The call centre had no record of me as a customer”
“Customer services couldn’t tell me when my order was being shipped”
The problem is, this type of information isn’t in the CRM – it’s in the ERP. So the customer services team doesn’t have visibility, and can’t therefore provide a high level of service.
If you are an international company dealing with different channels, different brands, different currencies and different tax jurisdictions, it can become incredibly complex if you are using fragmented systems.
What’s the solution?
Businesses need to re-think what CRM is all about. Traditional CRM must be integrated seamlessly with the data that is required when you are actually engaged with a customer – so you need to know, for example, what they brought, when it is due to be delivered, if it arrived on time, and how much they paid.
This is more than simply “lead-opportunity-forecast” – it’s a much broader view of CRM.
This is a problem all types of business need to deal with, but in particular, retail companies. Buying habits have changed – people want to choose how they interact with a company, so it’s more important than ever to have an all encompassing business management solution that brings together all of your data into one place.
Re-thinking CRM is just as important in B2B companies – business buyers now expect a more ‘consumer-like’ experience and this includes interacting with a company using the channel of their choice. But it can be even tricker to provide a great customer experience when it comes to B2B because items are often purchased in bulk and customers may have negotiated their own prices and payment terms. This makes CRM really complex so businesses need a common back end in order to properly deal with their customers, regardless of where they encounter them.
Creating great CRM experiences
Integrating your business systems, including your eCommerce offering, allows for great CRM experiences. For example, a customer goes in store, and you know who they are and what they’ve purchased previously online. You are then able to send a receipt to them via email automatically without asking them for their email address – this is a great CRM experience.
In fact, many of our most pleasant CRM experiences nowadays have nothing to do with a sales system, or in many cases a sales person, it has to do with a great interaction with a machine. And this is not what CRM systems were originally designed to do.
Take a look at the clip below for 5 minutes or so – it’s NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson discussing how CRM has evolved, it’s really interesting stuff! Watch from around 28:38.
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