Tak­ing CRM to the masses

Finweek English Edition - - Ict -

CUS­TOMER RE­LA­TION­SHIP MAN­AGE­MENT (CRM) has long been about churn­ing out cus­tomer data to an exclusive clique of large com­pa­nies. But now there’s a clear shift in the tar­get au­di­ence. CRM is no longer just de­liv­er­ing in­sights to big busi­ness but also to an ea­ger small and medium-sized busi­ness sec­tor hun­gry for the tools long ex­cluded from them.

Ven­dors say the seg­ment of the mar­ket will be the growth en­gine for CRM in com­ing years, gen­er­at­ing an ever-in­creas­ing share of rev­enues. Microsoft’s Wy­nand Roos sees “huge po­ten­tial” in the SME space for CRM applications. Roos says the com­pany re­cently made a strong play in the CRM sec­tor and its ap­proach hinges on a be­lief peo­ple are pay­ing too much for CRM and get­ting too lit­tle. “Tra­di­tional CRM soft­ware is costly, com­plex and dif­fi­cult to main­tain,” Roos says.

“We’d like to think we’re chang­ing the eco­nomics of CRM. We be­lieve we’re rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies in the eco­nomics of CRM, mak­ing broad de­ploy­ment pos­si­ble through a low per-user price point and by dra­mat­i­cally im­prov­ing ease of use.

“Microsoft will bring CRM ca­pa­bil­i­ties to 10 times the num­ber of com­pa­nies and be able to do that be­cause we de­liver CRM ex­actly where the users work ev­ery day – in the applications and tools they al­ready know. Ease of in­te­gra­tion is a key fac­tor in adop­tion and po­ten­tially the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It’s ex­tremely im­por­tant for the end user to have the feel­ing of ‘hav­ing been there be­fore’ and for them to in­tu­itively know how to nav­i­gate through their busi­ness applications,” Roos says.

By us­ing com­mon tools such as Microsoft’s Of­fice suite of applications, which in most cases acts as a front-end to its CRM of­fer­ing, users are fa­mil­iar with the en­vi­ron­ment and thus re­quire less change man­age­ment. They’re also likely to re­ceive the new so­lu­tion more pos­i­tively, since it doesn’t re­quire a mind­set change.

Roos says suc­cess­ful CRM im­ple­men­ta­tions change the way cus­tomer in­for­ma­tion is gen­er­ated and used within a com­pany – and that has a di­rect im­pact on its in­creased ef­fec­tive­ness and ef­fi­ciency. “At a high level it al­lows ex­ec­u­tives, man­agers and su­per­vi­sors to look at their dash­boards to see whether the com­pany is meet­ing its ser­vice lev­els – in real time or as close to it as pos­si­ble.”

Com­pa­nies also find their em­ploy­ees are em­pow­ered by us­ing fa­mil­iar tools that help in­crease their pro­duc­tiv­ity. “In a world where we’re more com­pet­i­tive, more global and the cus­tomer is more de­mand­ing CRM is no longer a lux­ury,” says Roos.

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