The days are long gone of customer relationship strengthening consisting of personalized communications and answering queries in time. Customers have evolved and so too have their needs. The advent of social media is just one factor that has changed how customers view and interact with brands. Thanks to social media platforms, the modern tech-savvy customer expects companies to be open and transparent. Research also strongly suggests consumers now expect brands to know them. In addition, they want a consistent customer service across all channels. CRM has fortunately come to the rescue.
What you will learn in this article
- The backdrop to today’s customer-centric CRM
- How much CRM usage has grown
- What to look for in a good customer first CRM solution
- The top 10 trends in CRM for 2021
- How small business can get started with CRM
What’s going on with CRM?
Today’s CRM systems are more comprehensive than ever before. As a result, functionality is unrecognizable from just a few years ago. Modern CRM now includes powerful features to manage internal workflows and build lasting relationships with customers.
Recent research has demonstrated that CRM is the largest and fastest-growing software sector. By the year 2025, it’s predicted that global revenue from CRM software will exceed $80 billion. Meanwhile, other studies have shown that almost 60% of businesses – big and small – are increasing their spending on CRM. The main driver is CRM’s capacity to reveal actionable customer data, which can be used in many different ways, including:
- Offering greater personalization
- Creating segmented marketing campaigns
- Building better customer relationships
The impetus for much of this comes from CRM customers wishing to integrate all their different platforms, apps, and technologies. In addition, they want to develop an overarching CRM system that can leverage all their data to create a first-class customer experience.
Other features you need in a CRM system
The following are CRM features you should insist on as a small business.
Flexibility and customization – Scalability is essential if you want your CRM to grow in line with your company. Customization, too, is a priority to ensure you can access the tools you need and fine-tune them to your company’s needs.
Workflow management – Smart workflow automation will save on dreary time-consuming tasks.
Contact management – Check you can segment customers and leads.
Social media – Ensure the CRM you are considering has integration with your social media empire.
Analytics – You need to have insightful data that lets you measure performance.
Customer service – Clarify the details of customer service management tools. For example, you will wish to confirm they include a ticketing system to address customer concerns promptly.
User-friendliness – The CRM system you choose must be easy to use to maximize your ROI and get users on board with the project.
The top 10 CRM trends for 2021
Like most technology, the pace of change within CRM is rapid. To get you up to speed, here are the top trends you should know about for 2021.
AI tools provide predictive analysis and see patterns much faster than humans ever could. It’s cutting edge and allows you to use data-driven insight to manage resources and workflows better.
This feature is only going to grow in stature. Mobile phone and social media usage are at all-time highs. So it makes eminent sense to be in the space and use CRM features to determine what consumers think of your brand.
Holistic systems are gaining a lot of traction as all-encompassing CRM platforms. They are all-inclusive, integrating all your sales, marketing, customer relationship, and customer service efforts in one location.
More and more companies are adopting workflow automation to boost efficiency. Automation of mundane manual tasks frees up significant chunks of time to spend on more profitable activities. This is the way forward for small businesses wishing to maximize their resources.
360-degree customer views
Demand for a helicopter overview of the battlefield is growing exponentially. Zooming out to see the big picture is trendings as businesses say they have more confidence in their CRM.
Mobile-first is more than a trendy buzzword. It is a reality for all companies, including even the tiniest of small businesses. A mobile CRM option puts you in the front row to harness seamless customer conversations online.
Internet of Things integration
The IoT has been gaining pace in recent times. While we may think of IoT as web-enabled doorbells, lights, and security cameras, it is creeping into CRM as well. With IoT integration, you can use your CRM to provide real-time customer service.
As they are much easier to install and use, cloud-based CRM is very popular with small businesses since they lack the IT resources required for an on-site system.
Voice-based search and messaging
This is an integration used to cater to chatbots and voice search. With accessibility a significant issue for companies, having voice technology is the logical next step in being customer-inclusive.
All-encompassing customer experience
The whole point of CRM, arguably, is to enhance the customer experience across the board. This CRM trend is focused on ensuring customers get the same high level of customer service no matter how they interact with your company.
Getting started with CRM
It’s said that customer service is not just one department’s responsibility. It’s the responsibility of everyone within your company. So, as daunting as it may seem for you as a small business, the hurdles are not insurmountable.
Lay the groundwork first by mapping out your business processes and your objectives. And only then, start your hunt for a CRM system. It is highly recommended that most small businesses stick with a much less burdensome cloud-based CRM system to save time.
Customer-focused CRM is something of a minefield for the uninitiated. There’s a balance to be struck between features and ease of use. For small businesses, the risks are magnified. The smart move you can make today is to go and try out our free trial!