How important is a CRM in 2020? How does it affect a company, the users, and most importantly the company experience? In this new series, we’ll have a look at all of these aspects, for the role of CRM has become more important than ever.
Today some C-level executives are very nervous as they feel the growing pains of the digital transformation that has been occurring on a steep curve for the last several decades. The only way to deal with that transformation is through technological processes—and these technological processes are the only way to run a company today.
It’s gotten to the point now that if a process malfunctions, it can wreak major havoc with company operations. For example, if something goes wrong with an e-commerce application, a valuable transaction doesn’t occur. In another area, the data flow is interrupted and a crucial operation doesn’t happen, and vital data is lost. Or, you’re selling live in a video chat, reach the most important part of your pitch, and you lose your connection.
In sales that series of processes is, in fact, CRM. CRM applications have come from a technological “nice to have” up to the point where a company cannot live without one. I would say that CRM is the “operating system” of a company. It is the heart, it is the hub, because the “C” stands for “Customer” and without customers, a company doesn’t exist.
How does your company remain aware of a customer and their details? CRM! You need to understand customer account information, contact data, what kind of activities have taken place with them, their assigned sales rep, calls, emails, leads, opportunities, and everything else that would comprise a 360-degree view of that customer.
Customers have come to expect a level of care and attention that can only be obtained through CRM. They become impatient if you’re not instantly aware of their purchase history, preferences, and recommendations. They expect you to have a perfect profile of them, and you should. All of this makes up what today is referred to as the CX—“Customer eXperience.” An effective CX is a holistic one. From that customer’s buying journey, we can then create a personalized experience. This cannot be done without a CRM.
Of course, when you have a CRM armed with all this data, you have to use it. It’s just like anything in life—many people have things in their houses or offices that they never use. With a CRM system, company staff need to actually interact with it.
If that’s going to happen, the CRM itself must possess spectacular ease of use, because salespeople should not be the only ones interacting with it. It isn’t just one division or one department; it has to be every department. How else can you obtain a great experience for the customer—that all-important CX?
When a CRM solution is not intuitive, it takes much longer to learn. A non-intuitive quality will also impact its everyday use; when salespeople or others in a company have trouble understanding an application, they will tend to shy away from it. That means that vital data may be entered incorrectly into CRM, or not be entered at all.
To get a CRM in broad use across a company, it must be easily learned, which is where ease of use comes in. Pipeliner CRM excels in this area, as it can be learned by a new user in hours, as compared to the weeks and sometimes even months of other CRM solutions. We have ensured ease of use and learning through our visual orientation, consistent across the product.
Our completely visual approach has been part of our user interface strategy from the beginning. This strategy extends to every screen created. When a user learns one screen, its similarity to others means that progressive screens can be rapidly understood.
Additionally, we’ve built learning right into the product, so that users have access to product information right at their fingertips. People don’t all learn in the same way, so not only is this information in text and graphical form but increasingly in video form as well. We also have tutorials, and a way to contact support if for some reason the user doesn’t find what they’re looking for.
Benefits and Requirements
Given that every business must have a CRM or find themselves out of business in the future, it now becomes important to select the right CRM. What CRM benefits does a company require?
These benefits must be examined in detail. Different stakeholders—management, finance, general users—have different requirements. For example, not everyone will need all customer details but may require fast overviews through dashboards or reports.
It’s also true that requirements change, and so technology needs to change right along with them. Technological innovation, too, can drive change (introduce new benefits) and can affect what a company desires, needs and wants.
I am often asked why I have a “disproportionate” number of developers compared to marketing and sales personnel. Most SaaS businesses are generally the reverse and weigh far more in favor of sales and marketing. I have followed the advice of educator and author Peter Drucker, who said that to have a competitive advantage you must create the future. That only happens with a healthy investment in R&D. I believe, in our case, it is the right approach. Today we have a fantastic product that is only getting better.
While a CRM should be the company hub, I do not believe it can fulfill every function. Today there is a battle raging between the “suite” approach (in which a product attempts to be everything to everyone) and the “best of breed” approach. We’ll take this argument up in the next article. Stay tuned!