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October 4, 2013

A New Face For Customer Relationship Management

Business

Jeff Cochran

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Let’s face it: customer relationship management (CRM) is a jumbled mess. We come to CRM with an empty box, and then an uncoordinated group works to add information to it. The leads generated by various parts of the sales force simply don’t come together into a coherent image of who our customers are. But with evolution in the field of CRM, there is potential for that to change. From the revolutionary no software world of Salesforce, CRM is evolving. The CRM of the future won’t require an entire team of its own, generating leads and pouring information into it. The only CRM worth having in the future will be one that provides those leads on its own.

Many highly successful companies have found that there is only one good way to deal with their CRMs, and that is to assign an entire team to the projects, along with thousands or even millions of dollars. The empty box that every current CRM starts out as gets filled by these teams, but only large companies have the resources necessary to make this happen. Instead, the rest of us are forced to work with conflicting information or missing updates. With a system like that, it’s impossible to know who needs our products.

A properly functioning CRM in the future will have the answer to that question. Right out of the box, new CRMs will have a set of customer recommendations. And, to make the system even better, those recommendations will be consistent across departments. If one department discovers that recommendations are wrong, the CRM will update across all departments. Leads should be singular and consistent in this CRM of the future. There shouldn’t be duplicates or entire CRM-dedicated teams. And those leads shouldn’t cost millions of dollars to uncover.

Finally, to really have an optimized CRM will mean that we get the big picture. The new CRM should be able to tell us whether our customers are on Facebook, or if they are Twitter users instead. A wide variety of information should be available within the CRM, and the system should be smart enough to know which representatives need which kinds of information. This may sounds like a stretch, but we are rapidly approaching this phase in the world of CRMs.

It was exciting when Salesforce first revolutionized the market by getting rid of the extensive software needs that CRMs used to come with, but the future holds even more exciting prospects. CRM may still be a hassle, but coming down the road are changes that will streamline the lead process in ways we never imagined before.

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