by James Frampton, SVP and General Manager EMEA at SugarCRM, outlines what to look for in a CRM system
Everything is different now – the way we work, shop and learn – and as a result brands have had to reassess their practices and review how they engage with customers. For many, doing so has highlighted fundamental weaknesses in their systems and processes.
When SugarCRM recently surveyed sales and marketing professionals for its CRM and Sales Impact Report, nearly half (48%) stated that the CRM systems they have in place don’t meet their needs, with 43% complaining that their existing CRM is too complex and not as intuitive or user-friendly as they would like.
This represents a significant challenge for brands that are under considerable pressure to retain existing customers and to win new customers at a time when consumer habits are changing. Will their systems enable them to be sufficiently responsive to satisfy the former and sufficiently flexible and nimble to attract the latter?
If businesses are to achieve both these aims, CX needs to be at the heart of their operations. They need to provide a seamless, engaging experience at every stage of the relationship so that customers keep coming back again and again.
Unfortunately, our research suggests that too many CRMs, the foundational technology needed to drive engagement and excellent customer experiences, aren’t up to the task. They provide an incomplete customer view; they focus only on the current stage of the customer’s journey; and they lack the contextual information required for meaningful insight.
More than four out of 10 respondents (43%) complained that their CRM system is unable to provide the critical data that can influence a customer’s experience, with one third claiming that the information they do have access to is incomplete, irrelevant and inaccurate.
Under such circumstances, the CX quickly begins to breakdown, leading to customer churn and critical lost revenue.
Consolidation is key
CRM systems have been playing an integral role in business for years, and their benefits and importance are well documented. Yet, our research shows that 48% of UK businesses are allowing them to become unfit for purpose. What, then, should business leaders be doing to unlock the power of a full functioning CRM system?
The short answer is consolidation, so that all members of staff, at every touchpoint along the customer journey, see the same data. This may sound obvious – and 72% of business leaders acknowledge that having a consolidated approach is key – yet it is rarely delivered. In fact, 50% of the sales professionals we surveyed said they don’t have the same view of customer data across marketing, sales and service. This lack of consolidation prevents a holistic approach and allows customers to fall through the cracks.
Ensuring your systems are married up gives you a ‘high-definition’ picture of your customer. To achieve this, organisations must start by redefining their customer concept, drawing on accurate, up-to-date information from multiple sources and from across the organisation. By incorporating a complete historical record of every change event in the customer journey, organisations will gain HD-CX, through which they will not only be able to track their customers’ movements but crucially provide their customers with a seamless journey.
Unlocking this potential will have a direct impact on the customer lifeline value and allow businesses to identify and eliminate churn, with big benefits for sales and the all-important bottom line.
Change with the times
The business landscape has changed over the last 12 months, and brands must learn to adapt and change too. With tough economic times ahead, customer experience has arguably never been more important. Each customer is precious and losing one to a competitor could be costly. Businesses that remain stuck with a fragmented, outdated CRM and incomplete view of their customers may find the gap between them and their competitors can no longer be closed.
However, if changes are made and businesses do adopt a more holistic view of customer experience and the systems that support it, they stand to profit from increased customer retention, more revenue and better business outcomes.