Updated: May 11, 2020
Customers are the most important asset to any business no matter what industry you belong to, what your focus is or what kind of products or services you offer. Customer service should be the number one focus of any business. And don't forget, they're the reason you're in business because of all the revenue they generate. A saying frequently heard and said in many businesses is, "Customer is King." This means you should understand your customer and. therefore, customer relationship management (CRM) comes into the picture.
WHAT IS CRM?
CRM stands for customer relationship management. It's an approach for managing a company's current and potential customers. It analyzes data about a customer's history to help improve business relationships, specifically focusing on retention. Its ultimate goal is to increase sales growth.
One important aspect of CRM is that it compiles data from many different sources, including a company's website, telephone, email, live chat, marketing materials, and social media. By using CRM, businesses can learn more about their target audiences and how to meet their needs.
HOW DID IT START?
Customer relationship management has existed in one form or another since the 1980s. Back then, customer relationships were managed through contact management software like ACT. Eventually, marketers started cold-calling current customers to upsell their products. Later, other industries like healthcare, consumer goods, and utility companies started making customer service calls to ensure their customers were satisfied with the service they were receiving.
Then, the early 1990s saw the Age of Enterprise Resource Planning. This was when database marketing changed into sales force automation. CRM companies started consolidating contact, lead, and opportunity management, as well as tracking deals in one system.
In the mid-1990s, sales automation and transparency became more important when companies started launching online CRMs. Salesforce automation forced contact management systems to evolve even more, and customer service and support people were expected to start handling post-sale activities.
In the late 1990s, there was rapid growth in the development of e-CRM systems. Salesforce.com offered the first CRM SaaS. Not too long after this, E-CRM vendors started offering ways to make intra-organization collaboration easier. Companies also started offering CRM platforms in the mobile market as smartphones became more popular.
In the early 2000s, cloud-based CRM systems took off because there were no upgrade costs, and they could be used with older useful applications. As businesses became more mobile, and remote working became more popular, cloud-based CRM systems provided the flexibility to work from anywhere. They were also cheaper and easier to use. CRM companies worked to develop more comprehensive solutions to manage all business relationships.
In the mid-2000s, open-source CRM started becoming more popular when Amazon started renting computing power to businesses as a cloud service. After that, Salesforce.com launched a cloud-based system. Cloud-based CRMs became much more popular during this time.
In the late 2000s, mobile CRM systems became more popular as the smartphone market continued to explode. By this time, smartphones could hold as much information as a desktop computer. This increased the demand for more information to be available on smartphones. Social media integration started becoming more popular, and cloud-based and SaaS CRM solutions continued adding more features.
In the early 2010s, customer experiences became even more important. CRM companies started tracking marketing efforts so they could get a better understanding of customers' needs. Stronger analytics became even more important, and companies started shifting from managing transactions to managing customer relationships. CRMs became much more than just a contact management tool. Cloud-based CRMs were introduced, and social media integration became even more popular. CRM companies also started improving mobile access so people who were on the go could have information at their fingertips.
In the mid-2010s, artificial intelligence became more popular, and CRM companies started looking for ways to use it in their systems. Companies started integrating them with business intelligence services and communication services. Data analytics was improved, and more integrations were added based on industry, line of business, sales process or market focus, increased AI and machine learning use like chatbots and virtual voice assistants.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TODAY?
CRM is important for many reasons:
- Today, every business wants to achieve more results in less time. However, we have less time to achieve more.
- Impressing the customer isn't enough. Businesses also have to nurture customer relationships, retain customers and generate more business from them. Still, that may not be enough; customers could leave any day if they don't receive the quality of service they're used to. The only way a company can achieve this is to hire a full-fledged customer support team and keep them for the whole year.
- In any growing business, there is not enough time, skilled employees, project planning, and third-party app integrations to run a business smoothly. For all this, you need a CRM to manage multiple activities simultaneously on one screen; that's how you achieve more in less time.
- Because of changing business needs, CRM platforms need to keep improving their capabilities to keep improving profits for their customers. Having artificial intelligence or machine learning isn't enough; it won't fool tech-savvy users. In fact, demand for basic AI integration peaked a few years ago. Advanced users now want more powerful AI and machine learning to tackle extremely specific CRM functions.
WHAT IS THE OUTLOOK FOR CRM?
The focus for CRM from 2018 has been:
- Customer engagement - Creating a positive customer experience - Blockchain - Internet of Things - Mobile platforms - Artificial Intelligence - Machine learning - Personalization - Digital transformation - Engagement marketing also called Content Marketing
Customer relationship management is more important to business now than ever before. As technology continues to evolve, customer relationship management systems will continue to evolve too. Businesses need to find ways to integrate customer relationship management so they can stay competitive, keep their current customers happy and—attract new customers. It is important for businesses to understand how they can use CRMs to keep increasing business and ultimately their profits. Let us show you how we can help your business keep growing.