More than 30 years have passed since the first CRM technology was introduced. Since then, it has seen broad adoption across all industries. With substantial benefits also come frustrations. New bolt-on solutions are progressively adding to core CRM strategies, as the ‘all-in-one’ CRM solution proves elusive.

KNOW YOUR CLIENT – BETTER

At its core, CRM provides a clear picture of the interactions between a business and its clients. Using technology to monitor and analyse these relationships offers valuable insights and analytics that were previously out of reach.

FAR BEYOND THE CALL LOG

Recently, companies have been leveraging the incredible potential of client data, beyond traditional CRM systems tracking interaction logs. Amazon, Google and other platform businesses have used their technology platform to monetise their client data. From user-level interface, through to global business strategy, CRMs are making a whole new set of client analytics accessible.


“No one in the Amazon sales team is ‘logging’ a customer search or purchase into a CRM – it is recorded as a consequence of the interaction itself.”

A CRM strategy is designed to achieve the same result. However, such platforms use more substantial data breadcrumbs. On the Amazon platform, all client interactions happen using technology. Resulting data trail thereby goes well beyond simple records of interactions. Those are left to ‘old economy’ businesses and their CRM systems.

No one in the Amazon sales team is ‘logging’ a customer search or purchase into a system. They are recorded as a consequence of the interaction itself.

UNPOPULAR BUT NECESSARY?

For all its potential, the reality of CRM implementation for most large organisations has fallen short of lofty expectations. Roll-outs typically takes years, rather than months. Meanwhile, front-line, client-facing staff see an increase in workload. Instead of dedicating their time to client activity, they are required to allocate time to tediously record their interactions. The majority of which continue to happen offline.


It can feel like a one-way street. While staff deliver data into a bottomless pit, they receive nothing in return.

Indeed, for many front-line staff, most of their interaction with CRM systems is for client planning. Usually an annual exercise driven by senior management. It is a one-way street. While staff deliver data into a bottomless pit, they receive nothing in return.

WHO IS TRACKING WHOM?

The scale of the strategic opportunity for CRM means that implementation is led from the top down. With long timelines, consulting with front-line teams across geographies on developing analytics is simply not an option.

As a result, native CRM analytics often reflect the needs of senior management. It then becomes a Management Information System (MIS) as much for assessing client-facing staff as it is for understanding clients.

Concepts like ‘Staff Scorecards’ and measuring ‘Client Touches’ provide few insights around clients, but substantial insights on employees. This causes the first problem around employee engagement with CRM. Failure by employees to manually update the system reflects negatively on their performance.

AS THE ‘ALL-IN-ONE’ CRM PROVES ELUSIVE, WHERE TO NEXT?

A second wave of platform technology is now upon us. While CRMs has not delivered on all fronts, a key benefit has been to provide the backbone for collecting and analyzing client data.

Considering the scale and complexity of implementation processes, it is simply not possible to deliver each front-line team with the required analytics. Instead, rather than viewing CRM software as a stand-alone system used across the organisation, it becomes the infrastructure layer hosting all client data. Implementation is only a first step toward a comprehensive and dynamic platform.

NEXT GENERATION PLATFORMS: BUILD ON TOP OF CRM

The next step is for front-line teams to never interact with the CRM ‘infrastructure’ at all. Instead, interactions happen solely with purpose-built platform applications.

The next wave of technology will be the ‘platforming’ of old economy workflows. These platforms will take data from CRM software and deliver it to client-facing teams to inform their daily tasks and workflows.

Meanwhile, the work itself will itself generate data that flows back into the CRM.

FROM ONEROUS TO INDISPENSABLE

Taking a platform approach enables staff to benefit not only from CRM-generated data, but also 3rd party data and market information.

Such valuable outputs will shift the experience to a positive feedback loop. Data generated by the multiple applications across the platform is returned with analytics that help inform front-line staff.

New platforms unleash the power of data and combine it with outdated stand-alone CRM systems. For sales teams looking to serve their clients in a timely and relevant manner, such platforms become indispensable.