Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is truly coming into its own in 2021. For most businesses, it’s been a lifesaver during the pandemic, supporting remote work, enabling omnichannel, and helping organizations make the most of every opportunity that comes their way.
But CRM isn’t just about crisis management. Considering the complexities of doing business in today’s competitive, highly personalized digital environment, a CRM is an essential tool for any organization that values customer loyalty. And doesn’t that include just about all of them?
What is Customer Relationship Management?
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a strategy designed to improve the customer experience (CX) for today’s modern business.
When we talk about CRM as a tool, we’re referencing a software platform that combines a collection of software-based workflows that help companies forge more profound, meaningful relationships with their customers.
With that in mind, CRM encompasses many things, including communications, scheduling, website, and social media management, marketing, sales, lead management, customer service, workflow automation, and more besides.
It’s difficult to imagine how any company today can manage without a CRM because growth would be nearly impossible in the absence of such a tool.
The Customer Is At The Center Of Everything
In the early days of CRM—and to be clear, the concept and technology have existed in some form for more than 30 years—it was a tool to help companies keep track of their customer interactions. But, of course, the concept goes much further back in time.
As long as people have traded goods and services, it’s been necessary to keep tabs on customers, what they paid, and how often they buy. Imagine how organized you would need to be if you were sailing halfway around the world with your goods. You’d certainly want to make sure you delivered exactly what the customer wanted or risk starvation on the return journey.
Fortunately for all of us, today’s CRM is much faster and simpler. But the core principles remain: take care of your customers, and they’ll take care of you. It’s all about the relationship.
Whether your niche is in B2C or B2B, certain expectations must be met. Today’s customers have little hesitation to jump ship for a competitor if they feel your process does not work for them. In other words—it’s not enough anymore to have an amazing product or service. To continue to delight your customers and build loyalty, you need to give them what they want, and a modern CRM makes that possible.
CRM evolves at the speed of business. New technology, like automation and artificial intelligence (AI), is ubiquitous in today’s digital world, as are customer service concepts like omnichannel and sales and marketing strategies, personalization, and segmentation.
With the ability to analyze data from digital interactions—from the website, email, social, and other connected channels—companies can now build a highly accurate profile of their customer base. As their audience comes into sharper focus, pathways to growth are no longer speculative. Instead, forecasting is based on factual data, making it easier for organizations to meet and exceed expectations.
Essential CRM Trends For 2021
The role of CRM today is firmly rooted in improving the customer experience with data-supported insights. The automated features of CRM make it possible to do more with less, to maximize resources while increasing the quality, variety, and volume of services delivered.
As more time passes, new tools will undoubtedly emerge, and keeping track of these trends will help you stay ahead of the curve and gain a competitive edge.
So let’s look at the prevailing CRM trends in 2021 and what we can expect as we move forward.
- Customer Experience (CX). According to a joint study conducted by Forbes and Salesforce, improving customer experience is among the top priorities cited by industry leaders—and customers concur. For example, 80% of consumers and B2B buyers agree that a seamless CX is an essential consideration when choosing what companies to do business with, outpacing both price and product.
What’s different today as opposed to in the past? Customers today know the difference between a good CX and a poor one. They’re looking for simple, seamless, frictionless experiences that help them reach their goals quickly.
CRM empowers CX, pulling data from myriad sources, including social media engagements and browsing/purchasing behavior, to deliver a more personalized, relevant experience. Ultimately, we all want to be heard, which is a way for brands to demonstrate that they’re paying attention.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI). With all the data you’re collecting, it’s little use unless actionable insights can be extracted from it. If you have to wait for your data scientist to crunch the numbers, you’re already looking at yesterday’s news. Business agility depends on how quickly you respond to changing conditions. AI helps identify trends and patterns in customer behavior, providing opportunities to increase sales and enable predictive analysis.
Additionally, by automating repetitive tasks, like email reminders, marketing, social, and sales funnel activities, you’ll ensure these tasks are completed—nothing will fall through the cracks. When a critical interaction comes your way, the appropriate response is triggered.
Chatbots are another form of AI. Often used in customer service situations, they are a way for your site visitors to get the help they need on-demand. Chatbots don’t take breaks or vacations—they’re always available to answer the most commonly asked questions and will, in many cases, be able to deliver precisely what the customer is looking for—and provide data you can then use to your advantage.
- Mobile-First. The trend toward mobile-first has penetrated just about every aspect of business. As far as CRM is concerned, mobile is a critical component, especially when you consider the events of the past year or so. Customers are overwhelmingly accessing the web on their mobile devices, whether for shopping, email, or interacting with social media.
For employees, mobile CRM provides a way to untether from the desktop, enabling a work-from-anywhere culture and enhancing the ability to respond immediately to work or customer service needs. Going forward, it’s clear that remote work will continue to prevail, so we can expect to see advances in these areas, with improved integration operability and advanced document sharing, collaboration, and editing features.
And though BYOD security is a concern for some companies, the implementation of single sign-on and judicious use of VPN technology can certainly mitigate the risk.
- Integrations. According to Blissfully, companies today leverage an average of 137 different SaaS solutions. Even with a dedicated team, it would not be possible to use all these apps successfully and pull useful aggregate data from them without an integration platform. Today’s CRM helps you do just that, giving you a single source of truth to simplify operations throughout the organization.
Integrations also address a critical security issue, as employees can access all the apps they need to get the job done within the CRM. In addition, the CRM provides a secure environment for apps and data, eliminating the need to step outside the company ecosystem to do what they need to do.
Beyond security, integrations within the CRM offer employers valuable productivity data and a way to enable accountability and monitor quality throughout the workforce.
- Social Media. Today’s business environment relies on social media as a critical channel for marketing, but when it comes to CX, it’s so much more. Customers have a voice, and they want to use it, and there is no better place to share thoughts and feedback than on social.
To succeed with social media from a CRM standpoint, brands should leverage that power to enable one-on-one interactions—social transactions, if you will. A successful social interaction is one of the most effective forms of marketing as there is no “selling” attached to it; it’s strictly about sharing thoughts, ideas, and building more meaningful connections.
When social media is integrated into CRM, it enables a true omnichannel experience—meaning when the customer reaches out on their preferred channel, they’ll get a response right away. The conversation then becomes a part of their profile, so the next time they get in touch, the associate will know exactly what’s gone before and how to proceed appropriately.
WayPath CRM Solution
WayPath customer relationship management allows you to leverage the power of your data, empowering your employees with all the tools they need to take your business to new heights.
If we can all agree that a CRM is an essential component of digital transformation, we could say that WayPath CRM is a solution that helps you delight customers in ways you might not have imagined possible just a few short years ago.
Our user-centric design ensures onboarding success. Your employees will love it because it gives them back their time. Your customers will love it because it enhances interactions with your brand, enabling omnichannel while removing typical friction points along the way.
WayPath CRM builds value and meaning into every interaction, providing an effortless experience for all stakeholders. Up in the executive suite, they’ll have the data to prove, unequivocally, that CRM is a smart investment. When employee satisfaction soars, so does business. Customers love a great CX almost as much as they enjoy interacting with happy people, and that sends value straight to the bottom line.
Get in touch today to learn how WayPath CRM can support your digital transformation.