Customer relationship management (CRM) software has truly had a revolutionizing effect on the way businesses engage and support their customers, but it does have something of a rocky history. The earliest CRM implementations were premises-based solutions that integrated poorly with other systems, look months (and even years) to implement and suffered from low levels of usage in organizations, many of which had shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars for the solutions.
Fast-forward to 2013, and CRM is a sprightly, sleek creature rather than a lumbering beast. Thanks to cloud-based delivery, it’s affordable, customizable and flexible, according to a recent blog post on Cloud Computing Path.
“Often for the first time, businesses do not have to invest in expensive hardware to make a difference to their customer support and data management operations, and employees can work from as many locations as needed, instead of being tied to their PC,” wrote blogger Aronno. “The cloud represents liberation for customer relationship management and creates space within company budgeting to focus on things other than new peripherals to deal with the new technology.”
A customer relationship management solution should complement a customer support or sales strategy: not dominate the conversation. In the call center, it’s a way of ensuring that agents who interact with customers are aware of the customer’s history and preference. Rather than having to hunt down the information, an ideal cloud-based CRM solution will populate the agent’s screen with information before the agent even picks up the customer’s call. This way, agents aren’t going “blind” into conversations, and customers feel they are recognized, appreciated and valued.
Since today’s workforce is mobile and often distributed, a cloud-based solution makes the most sense, since it can be used by remote workers and those on the road.
“Gone are the days when only the back office dealt with customer complaints and enquiries; in modern businesses CRM is part of the role of every employee, no matter how hands on or ethereal their function within the business,” writes Aronno. “Cloud computing assists everyone in the business understand how important data on customer activity is becoming, because it is far more accessible throughout the whole organization. On the one hand this can be unsettling for long-established employees, but on the other is it is an opportunity to make a ground breaking difference to the overall customer experience.”
And today, in a hypercompetitive environment and customers who are pickier and more impatient and demanding than ever before, a ground-breaking different in the customer experience is the difference between staying in business and putting up a “closed” sign.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey