Hard to believe that we’re previously two months into 2017. What’s that old adage? Time files when you’re having fun? Go ahead and laugh. It looks like 2017 might be a truly fun year for the customer relationship management (CRM) industry. In the past, we’ve seen CRM move from a glorified contact management system to a tool that organizations can use to create and build deep, lasting, and even significant customer relations. How’s that going to change (or is it) during 2017? Keep interpretation to find out the four CRM trends that you should watch this year.
Over the past couple of years, the CRM industry has seen the value of customer data and had finally found tools to use them. As a result, 2017 will continue the trend for gathering, analyzing, and acting on the mountains of data available to organizations about their customers. That means that analytics in particular, predictive analytics will continue to be a focus, as will the development and growth of tools that tap into artificial intelligence to improve predictions, services, and in the end outcomes. All this attention to data could also lead to some challenges in privacy arenas, so an “above and beyond” strategy for data security and compliance is a smart path to take.
The vision of great customer relationships paints a pretty picture that everyone loves to look at, but peel back that first layer of paint, and what you’ll find is that most CRM decisions for 2017 will be made with improved efficiency as the number one driver. Simplifying customer relationships and interactions with the intention of cutting costs will give rise to new and improved features such as self-service CRM. It will also contribute to a further blurring of the lines between CRM and commerce as well as other apps such as enterprise resource planning. Cloud-based and hosted CRM apps are going to become even more attractive as aging legacy CRM systems create more challenges and inefficiencies.
The shift from CRM as a contact manager to CRM as a relationship builder and experience manager has been swift and successful, but it’s not over just yet. Companies are creating more mobile positions, sales teams need access to deeper data while in the field, and customers want answers in their time using the communication channel that best suits them. On all fronts, CRM still needs to become easier to use, and so 2017 will bring further improvements in user experience on both sides of the isle. Mobile CRM will migrate from being an app to being a platform that improves and eases user access and experience while alternative capabilities, such as voice controls, will improve and become more widely available at all levels.
For a few years, some organizations failed to remember that the customer was the reason the business existed. That made it much easier for customers to turn to other companies offering the same products and services. Lesson learned. Most companies have now turned back to the “customer is king” belief. The push to build deeper customer relationships is evidence of that, and we’ll see that trend continue in 2017. But make no mistake: The customer may be king, but profit is driving those relationships. Organizations will invest more into building and maintaining lucrative relationships only if there’s evidence that it will provide a return on investment (ROI).