CRM Software System News & Views

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a business development strategy supported by customer affinity goals, customer facing business processes and supporting CRM software applications. CRM strategies are normally designed to methodically grow customer share and reduce customer churn.

CRM business goals and supporting CRM software systems have become commonplace in the pursuit of client acquisition and retention objectives. For most businesses, CRM software applications include marketing software, sales force automation (SFA) software, and customer support software. Complimentary and related business functions such as Partner Relationship Management (PRM), quote to cash processing, mobile CRM, social CRM and customer analytics compliment CRM software systems. New and often disruptive technology introductions such as open source CRM, flexible and remote delivery methods such as cloud computing or software as a service (SaaS), modified pricing models such as utility or subscription billing and outsourced CRM systems management continue to offer new methods for CRM acquisition, implementation and operation.

For most businesses, knowing they need to acquire a CRM software system is a no brainer. However, properly determining which CRM system best accommodates their company objectives, business processes, available resources and budget constraints can be a difficult exercise. Fortunately, there are several good CRM bloggers and CRM software review sites; some expert, fair and unbiased; while many others are clearly pay for say.

A CRM strategy is a journey and success is much more than an application software implementation and cut-over event. Important benefits from CRM strategies and closely linked CRM software systems often include a change in company culture and a continuous customer pursuit that adapts to evolving customer needs and new company capabilities. It is important to first comprehend that CRM is a business development strategy and then understand how CRM software systems can be the framework and automation tools to facilitate the organization's most important customer objectives. CRM systems help increase understanding and response to an organization's customers' needs in a timely, efficient and mutually rewarding manner.

CRM professionals have discovered many repeatable methods, processes, best practices and lessons which collectively lower risk and increase the payback of CRM software investment. Several good community websites offer shared experiences designed to tap into social networks, user generated content and community collaboration for the benefit of all members.

This purpose of this website's CRM advice is to share, collaborate and socialize content, information, experiences and knowledge from our own pursuit of CRM with other like minded business people. We'll share our experiences and we hope other readers may share their first hand experiences, views and insight as well.

We hope you may join us in this CRM journey.

Social CRM

CRM business strategies and CRM software applications have succeeded in advancing from the management of customer-facing transactional processing to mining customer data in order to better serve customers. While there is clearly a normal transformation which will continue to enhance customer data segregation, segmentation, analytics, and process improvement, the next CRM trend is clearly focused toward social CRM (sCRM).

Social CRM stems from social media and the Web 2.0 phenomenon characterized by a variety of customer initiated communication channels such as social networks, blogs, wikis and RSS syndication. Social CRM business executives and thought leaders are experimenting with new tools and methods to better engage customers in the way the customer desires, to change the communication from monologue to dialogue, and to engage the prospect or customer in a way that delivers mutually rewarding information to both participants. For forward thinking CRM professionals, social CRM goes beyond just making the customer feel wanted and makes the customer feel as though they are valued and an integral part of the company's operations - with legitimate influence to the marketing team, the Research and Development (R&D) team or other lines of business that benefit from direct input and feedback by the ultimate recipient.

Social CRM, like social media, requires new thinking and recognition that the customer relationship balance with the new social customer has been changed from a conversation where the company thought it controls the communication dialogue with its product and service directed messages to one where the customer is proactive, part of a much bigger virtual community and much more intent on being heard and recognized as part of the service or product solution.

Many organizations look at social CRM and social media in general as a business threat as opposed to a new source of knowledge to be tapped into and included into the development of products and services for enhanced customer acceptance and increased market share. While it is true that the Internet can put companies under a microscope of scrutiny, it is similarly true that customers can review unbiased product evaluations never before available and social communities can either impose their disdain on uncooperative businesses or their blessing of trusted companies. For this later benefit, corporate transparency is a must and should be used as a strategic advantage in a competitive marketplace. It is difficult to imagine the product or service that cannot be enhanced from the candid and passionate feedback of social customers.

Customers are generally not unreasonable. They get business economics and therefore social CRM need not be looked at as a necessary evil. Customers will reward vendors that strive for a win-win result. As companies understand that social customers have new avenues to get what they want, when the want and how they want it, these businesses will also understand they have new opportunities to reduce market guess work, design more receptive customer solutions, accelerate go to market products in reduced cycle times and ultimately acquire more meaningful and profitable customer relationships.