Taking CRM to the masses
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.