When it comes to tools that can help businesses reach out to more and more people, customer relationship management (CRM) systems are some of the most important currently being used. In a nutshell, CRM systems help companies keep track of customer information, with automation and organization of data being crucial elements of the software. As technology has evolved, so have CRM systems. Every year brings about new advances, and businesses have needed to adapt to keep up with all the changes. Predicting what’s to come can help organizations prepare in advance. As companies look to the future, they’ll notice several trends that they can be ready for well ahead of the rest of the pack.
1. Social Media Monitoring
Gathering the customer data for use in CRM systems has long been a time-consuming and at times difficult process. Luckily for today’s businesses, there are now more ways than ever before to interact with customers. Of particular interest is the social media scene, one of the most popular points of contact now for younger customers. As a result, many companies are using social media monitoring to find out more information about their customers.Often they can get that information directly from the customers’ social media profiles. Companies are also making use of CRM systems as a social media listening tool, which allows them to monitor customer sentiment in real time. This also enables them to quickly resolve any issues customers may be having.
2. Going Mobile
It’s no secret that mobile devices have exploded in recent years. Many apps, services, and programs are also making their way to smartphones and tablets, and CRM systems are no exception. Mobile CRM is already gaining in popularity, and that momentum looks to continue to grow over the next few years. Before, access to CRM systems was usually contained in-house with programs on desktop computers. As mobile capabilities have changed, CRM systems can now be used on just about any mobile device. Some systems are also becoming integrated with apps already present on mobile devices. The growing mobile CRM movement will likely be adopted by many businesses due to its ability to improve productivity, especially when employees are out of the office.
3. Better Cleaners
One of the major problems CRM systems have faced for years is the presence of extraneous data. With so much information being gathered on customers, there’s bound to be some data that is duplicated. Some data may also end up being incorrect. It’s now becoming much easier to clean up that data. Before these advances, businesses would need to engage in costly and time-consuming data cleanse operations, but that is all being handled by more effective tools now. As data cleanse tools get better, it will eliminate added workloads, making companies more efficient and capable of working with their CRM systems.
4. Moving to the Cloud
Back in 2012, around 35% of CRM systems were done with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) on the cloud. That number increased to 40% in 2013 and is expected to grow by nearly 50% over the next five years. In short, businesses are moving their CRM software to the cloud at a fairly rapid pace that is only expected to increase. Companies have been hesitant to use the cloud over fears of having a third party in charge of sensitive data, but many of those fears are being addressed. Today, there are more CRM offerings on the cloud than ever before, and they are working hard to create an environment that gives more options and improves on network and computer security.
5. More Privacy and Security
Speaking of security, CRM systems themselves are constantly being updated to deal with many of the latest security threats. In addition to security improvements, companies that use CRM will also make sure the information on their customers is kept private. As reports continue to come out about large security breaches hitting major corporations, customers will likely be apprehensive about giving too much information to a company. Businesses will need to take greater strides toward ensuring that information stays safe, in effect creating a more trusting relationship with the customer.
As with many high-tech markets out there, CRM systems are in a rapid state of change. Improvements are being made, issues worked out, and features enhanced as more companies use the software offerings to better their operations. With social media, mobile devices, and cloud computing gaining in popularity, it’s likely that CRMs will look different in a few years, but the goal of improving customer interactions will remain the same.