Customer Relationship Management: What Will The Next Five Years Bring?
A while back, I read an interesting post* from Lauren Carlson of online reviews site Software Advice who interviewed several experts in the realm of CRM to compile the top 5 trends to watch in the realm of customer relationship management over the next 5 years.
They were as follows:
- The Rise of Content Services
- The Realization of Real-time Customer Intelligence
- TV as Customer Engagement Channel
- Continued Adoption of Unified Communications
- Gamification in the Business Realm.
This got me thinking – how many of these concepts could not only be applied to CRM, but to ERP and business as a whole?
Some concepts like marketing and customer interaction through TV didn't really seem viable, not even for the realm of modern customer relationship management.
I was of course skeptical until I read about a certain soft drink
vendor in the US that used an ad spot during the Super Bowl to
demonstrate how an app on a smart phone could be used to control polar
bears on the TV screens in the viewer’s home. Wow, sci-fi meets
sci-fact, meets smart marketing! However, that said, we are already
seeing the interactive television services being applied in the
healthcare setting – especially for things such as senior care.
Outside of this concept of TV as Customer Engagement Channel, the
trends that grabbed my attention were: gamification, contextual CRM
data, and taking consumer social products and moving these into the ERP system.
I, like others, use most of these concepts in my daily life. I
certainly use games to get my kids to do things; rewards always work
better than punishment. Nothing motivates kids to do their best than a
potential reward - do this and then you will get that, clear your room
and you can get an ice cream. So why shouldn't this work for motivating
my colleagues, my subordinates, my sales people or even my machine
operators. So I thought about how this could be used in a job shop or a
distribution center. Imagine if gamification could be used to
incentivize and reward employees for exceptional quality assurance or
Contextual data is not a new concept and this has been around for as
long as time. The key to this trend is that we will continue to use CRM
to aggregate information and then use data from multiple sources to
create a more detailed picture (think 3D versus 2D) of our customers,
partners and suppliers. The topic of contextual CRM data and leveraging
consumer social media channels is breathing new life into the concept of
Customer Relationship Management, which is often called “the most
critical application that is often used”. The use of Facebook, Twitter,
and other social media to track customers’ movements, likes and
dislikes, and comments is increasingly helping companies move from
simply collecting customer feedback to being true “listening
organizations.” Online conversation mining, sentiment analysis, ratings
and reviews, Web analytics, and social media monitoring allow companies
to gain important insight to enable them to be more customer-centric.
Epicor Retail is already doing a lot of work in this area. Social
Media is being used to generate in-store information to help target
marketing to shoppers by trending their purchases across multiple
locations. A customer can walk into a store, digitally check in, and
then they might receive a special offer. These concepts might be more
difficult to apply to traditional manufacturing or distribution
customers in the short-term. In the long-term, the ability to gain a
richer more, rounded view of customers and prospects will most
definitely help drive promotions, intuitive offers, up-sell and
How can tapping into this Voice of the Customer make your company
more successful? A organization is a collection of people, processes and
customers. Effectiveness and efficiency is driven by how well the
people and processes are “connected,” managed, and focused on delivering
products and services that satisfy customers. Leveraging social
networks can provide the means to identify who your customers are, find
out exactly what they want and what kind of services and products they
need, so your organization can best meet those needs.
The last of the trends that really grabbed my attention was that we
will see an increase in the uptake of consumer Social Media products
into the ERP. As an avid user of consumer social media products this is
extremely appealing to me. Epicor is working actively to add consumer
social media products into its core ERP product. Epicor Enterprise
Search allows users to use consumer search capabilities to search for,
view, and then work with ERP data. These search capabilities can be
triggered using a special command from other productivity applications
such as Microsoft Office Outlook, Word, or Excel.
The ability to consume bite size pieces of information about the
world I live in in both appealing and something we all do on a daily
basis – think Facebook, Twitter, MSN, Skype, etc. Activity stream
management builds on this, collecting multiple data sources into one
place to introduce a new way of disseminating ERP data across the
organization. This allows the user to focus on what they want to see and
when they want to see this instead of having to search for this or sift
their way through reports, etc. From a customer relationship management
perspective this offers endless possibilities: updates could be tweeted
to the salesperson/account manager when an order status is changed, a
delivery date is changed, the customer pays open invoices late, etc.
This will allow the account manager to react more quickly to changes and
respond to the customer.
These concepts can be taken and applied across the organization;
combining the power of business process management (BPM), workflow and
task management, and social media concepts will allow organizations to
streamline processes in an entirely new way. Onboarding for new staff
will be simpler as they will immediately recognize the tools that they
are using on a daily basis. Combining this with contextual information
will further enhance the power of the ERP application – a one-stop-shop
for all my information needs.
The future is already here as they say. There is a good chance your
competition is adopting these technologies today. Five years from now,
if you haven’t mastered these new tactics and channels to support
business activity and customer engagement, there’s a good chance you
might no longer be the market leaders you once were...
*To read Lauren's original post, head to the Software Advice blog.
Posted by Robert Sinfield, Senior Manager, Product Marketing, Epicor