5 Trends That Will Change CRM

I was recently asked to join a group of experts to contribute thoughts on trends driving the evolution of CRM over the next five years. I must say, that it’s a group of individuals whom I not only respect, but also am lucky enough to know in the real world.

- Ray Wang, Principal Analyst & CEO at Constellation Research
- Brent Leary, Owner at CRM Essentials
- Esteban Kolsky, Principal & Founder at ThinkJar LLC
- Denis Pombriant, CEO at Beagle Research Group, LLC
- Paul Greenberg, Owner at The 56 Group, LLC

SoftwareAdvice‘s Lauren Carlson led the discussion under the banner of CRM’s Next 5 in 5. I’ve included some of the highlights here to give you a glimpse of what each expert is tracking. Of course, take a moment to read the full post for a deeper perspective…

Ray Wang: In the next five years, we will see tremendous growth in context services and the data they provide. A key source of this context data will be from mobile devices. Context services are subscription services that help add context during engagement. For example location, relationship, roles, business process, and other sensing technologies.

Esteban Kolsky: We still don’t have the analytical tools to make sure we can deliver value in the instances described. We need to build the infrastructure to make sure there is value in the technology. Analytics and Cloud are leading the charge there.

Paul Greenberg: We’ll see more technologies like SAP HANA, Hadoop and other in-memory and distributed technologies deliver radically faster information processing capabilities. Real-time customer intelligence will become a reality. Technologies around unified communications will be not only hot, but game changers.

Denis Pombriant: Virtual interaction increases the need for enhanced content management systems, as well as spur demand for video production tools that lightly-trained people can use to create animations and conventional “talking head” broadcasts. We will also probably see CRM systems evolve to track these virtual interactions.

Brent Leary: Near Field Communication and the impact it will have on person-to-person and machine-to-machine information exchange will have a big impact on CRM in the not too distant future. I’d also throw in connecting the TV to the mix of screens companies will use to create better customer experiences When people are at home with access to a big screen, they will want to leverage that for their interactions and rich content experiences. Companies that begin developing engagement strategies with this in mind should be in line to see some competitive advantage in terms of customer engagement.

While only some of thoughts made the cut, I didn’t want to lose the other ideas that were swirling in my mind as a result of this exercise. I needed a place where I could park the other important trends I’m following…

1. In 2012 and continuing into 2013, I believe businesses will start to explore new dynamics of CRM beginning with the Customer Influence Factor (I.F.). Services such as Klout, PeerIndex, and Kred are by default creating a social customer hierarchy that introduces influence beyond marketing, to now include service and sales professionals.

2. The second trend is the development of CRM systems that integrate I.F. data into the mix. This will help the front line prioritize engagement, personalize engagement, while providing a more comprehensive view of the social customer and their needs and expectations.

3. Naturally this introduces complications and new parameters in how businesses engage and develop relationships with customers. This will by default necessitate the development of new rules of engagement and supporting metrics to convert leads, solve customer issues, and improve experiences.

4. Next, we will see gamification extend beyond marketing to improve loyalty through integrated social rewards programs, social graph data, and a more community-focused effort on expanding the company’s reach through influence and advocacy programs.

5. Finally, the convergence of marketing, service, sales, and business intelligence will set the stage for businesses to build a more holistic front and experience through traditional web, social and mobile networks. Integration signals not only technology frameworks and connected systems and processes for collaboration, but more importantly, a mission, purpose, and charter to meet and exceed customer needs and expectations.

Where do you see CRM headed?

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  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikarobertson1 Erika Robertson

    I agree. #1 is my focus for 2012. In the financial services industry, the majority of our new business comes directly from client referrals. This makes it imperative for Business Development to be conscious of the customer influence factor of our client base. If we can hone in on which clients hold more social influence, and of these which are most likely to share their experience with us, we can maximize our efforts. So far in these efforts, quantifying the reach of an individual’s influence has served as the biggest challenge. Are there any tools that help do this while including factors that are offline?

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikarobertson1 Erika Robertson

    I agree. #1 is my focus for 2012. In the financial services industry, the majority of our new business comes directly from client referrals. This makes it imperative for Business Development to be conscious of the customer influence factor of our client base. If we can hone in on which clients hold more social influence, and of these which are most likely to share their experience with us, we can maximize our efforts. So far in these efforts, quantifying the reach of an individual’s influence has served as the biggest challenge. Are there any tools that help do this while including factors that are offline?

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikarobertson1 Erika Robertson

    I agree. #1 is my focus for 2012. In the financial services industry, the majority of our new business comes directly from client referrals. This makes it imperative for Business Development to be conscious of the customer influence factor of our client base. If we can hone in on which clients hold more social influence, and of these which are most likely to share their experience with us, we can maximize our efforts. So far in these efforts, quantifying the reach of an individual’s influence has served as the biggest challenge. Are there any tools that help do this while including factors that are offline?

  • http://twitter.com/RichardStacy Richard Stacy

    I know that social data presents enormous opportunities for marketing, especially CRM.  But… it seems to me that when this sort of marketing gets into social media, it all stops being social and the nature of the relationships we are seeking to create becomes correspondingly devalued.  I suspect that the only sustainable basis for engagement in the social space is the creation of the expectation of listening – i.e. to be there when consumers want to talk to brands (responding the the frequently mundane things they want to talk or complain about), not to intrude on consumers’ activity.  Its C2B not B2C. 

    More in this vein here http://richardstacy.com/2011/11/21/bacon-and-the-art-of-brand-engagement-in-social-media/

  • http://twitter.com/RichardStacy Richard Stacy

    I know that social data presents enormous opportunities for marketing, especially CRM.  But… it seems to me that when this sort of marketing gets into social media, it all stops being social and the nature of the relationships we are seeking to create becomes correspondingly devalued.  I suspect that the only sustainable basis for engagement in the social space is the creation of the expectation of listening – i.e. to be there when consumers want to talk to brands (responding the the frequently mundane things they want to talk or complain about), not to intrude on consumers’ activity.  Its C2B not B2C. 

    More in this vein here http://richardstacy.com/2011/11/21/bacon-and-the-art-of-brand-engagement-in-social-media/

  • http://twitter.com/RichardStacy Richard Stacy

    I know that social data presents enormous opportunities for marketing, especially CRM.  But… it seems to me that when this sort of marketing gets into social media, it all stops being social and the nature of the relationships we are seeking to create becomes correspondingly devalued.  I suspect that the only sustainable basis for engagement in the social space is the creation of the expectation of listening – i.e. to be there when consumers want to talk to brands (responding the the frequently mundane things they want to talk or complain about), not to intrude on consumers’ activity.  Its C2B not B2C. 

    More in this vein here http://richardstacy.com/2011/11/21/bacon-and-the-art-of-brand-engagement-in-social-media/

    • http://twitter.com/DennisAtKombea Dennis Adsit

      I’m closer to where Richard is, but still may be odd man out.  Being able to do a jumping, spinning back kick is cool, but it is not going to win you as many fights as the, more boring, ability to wrestle will.  I think the future of CRM is in the mundane:  1) responding (as Richard says), and 2) correctly…to customers’ desires to interact with us. 

      Brian, you and others here, are probably more more interested in media and technology.  I am guessing you have never actually worked in call centers and have probably never seen the underbelly of what really goes on inside them.  I am not going to bore you with the details, but an expose on the call center industry would be like the movie Fast Food Nation:  you would be shocked at the frequency with which customers are given completely incorrect information, you would be shocked at the inefficiency, and you would be shocked at how dreadful the jobs are. The way call centers are being managed and the level of quality coming out of them is very similar to the American Automobile industry in the early 70′s:  antiquated, inefficient, and abysmal. More monitoring and coaching is not the answer. It hasn’t solved the problem and the fact is, it can’t.

      So, my hope is that a focus on the basics is in the future of CRM…getting our interactions with customers right.  This could come in the form of simple integrations between the CRM and various kinds of agent-assisted automation tools. Doing so would give us a stakeholder hat-trick.  It would make agents work less repetitive and exhausting.  It would provide customers with something they have never received before…the correct responses to their inquiries, every time.  And finally, it would drive out the staggering amount of inefficiency and cost that every call center harbors.

      I know companies need to respond to the changes being wrought by social media.  I know quality and getting things right is hard work and so yesterday.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t needed…that there isn’t opportunity there.

    • http://twitter.com/DennisAtKombea Dennis Adsit

      I’m closer to where Richard is, but still may be odd man out.  Being able to do a jumping, spinning back kick is cool, but it is not going to win you as many fights as the, more boring, ability to wrestle will.  I think the future of CRM is in the mundane:  1) responding (as Richard says), and 2) correctly…to customers’ desires to interact with us. 

      Brian, you and others here, are probably more more interested in media and technology.  I am guessing you have never actually worked in call centers and have probably never seen the underbelly of what really goes on inside them.  I am not going to bore you with the details, but an expose on the call center industry would be like the movie Fast Food Nation:  you would be shocked at the frequency with which customers are given completely incorrect information, you would be shocked at the inefficiency, and you would be shocked at how dreadful the jobs are. The way call centers are being managed and the level of quality coming out of them is very similar to the American Automobile industry in the early 70′s:  antiquated, inefficient, and abysmal. More monitoring and coaching is not the answer. It hasn’t solved the problem and the fact is, it can’t.

      So, my hope is that a focus on the basics is in the future of CRM…getting our interactions with customers right.  This could come in the form of simple integrations between the CRM and various kinds of agent-assisted automation tools. Doing so would give us a stakeholder hat-trick.  It would make agents work less repetitive and exhausting.  It would provide customers with something they have never received before…the correct responses to their inquiries, every time.  And finally, it would drive out the staggering amount of inefficiency and cost that every call center harbors.

      I know companies need to respond to the changes being wrought by social media.  I know quality and getting things right is hard work and so yesterday.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t needed…that there isn’t opportunity there.

    • http://www.briansolis.com/ briansolis

      Well said. I also believe there’s much to learn from Doc Searls’ work in VRM (Vendor Relationship Management).

  • Anonymous

    The concept of the
    Customer Influence Factor (I.F.) and integrating ranking from sites such Klout, PeerIndex, and
    Kred can also be see in a negative way, and as an extension of our Guest Service organizations we should be careful how far we tilt that scale and use that data.

    I feel like we already see how some brands respond more to individuals with higher Klout scores. Even if they are not looking at the exact measurements yet, brands respond to more frequently and faster to influential people. Take celebrities for example and how brands love RT’s on twitter.

    If we create an environment where higher ranking determine the likelihood or response, we are just recreating a VIP club for the social audience. All customers should get responses, the influence ranking should only be applied when building out loyalty programs as a starting point, not an end point.

  • Anonymous

    The concept of the
    Customer Influence Factor (I.F.) and integrating ranking from sites such Klout, PeerIndex, and
    Kred can also be see in a negative way, and as an extension of our Guest Service organizations we should be careful how far we tilt that scale and use that data.

    I feel like we already see how some brands respond more to individuals with higher Klout scores. Even if they are not looking at the exact measurements yet, brands respond to more frequently and faster to influential people. Take celebrities for example and how brands love RT’s on twitter.

    If we create an environment where higher ranking determine the likelihood or response, we are just recreating a VIP club for the social audience. All customers should get responses, the influence ranking should only be applied when building out loyalty programs as a starting point, not an end point.

  • Anonymous

    The concept of the
    Customer Influence Factor (I.F.) and integrating ranking from sites such Klout, PeerIndex, and
    Kred can also be see in a negative way, and as an extension of our Guest Service organizations we should be careful how far we tilt that scale and use that data.

    I feel like we already see how some brands respond more to individuals with higher Klout scores. Even if they are not looking at the exact measurements yet, brands respond to more frequently and faster to influential people. Take celebrities for example and how brands love RT’s on twitter.

    If we create an environment where higher ranking determine the likelihood or response, we are just recreating a VIP club for the social audience. All customers should get responses, the influence ranking should only be applied when building out loyalty programs as a starting point, not an end point.

  • http://brentleary.com learyb

    Nice post Brian.  I really like your additions.  I wrote about something similar to your CIF last year in an ebook I did called Strategically Social.  There’s a free download at Slideshare.net if anyone is interested:

    http://www.slideshare.net/Radian6/radian6-strategically-social-ebook 

    Thank you sir!
    Brent

  • http://brentleary.com learyb

    Nice post Brian.  I really like your additions.  I wrote about something similar to your CIF last year in an ebook I did called Strategically Social.  There’s a free download at Slideshare.net if anyone is interested:

    http://www.slideshare.net/Radian6/radian6-strategically-social-ebook 

    Thank you sir!
    Brent

  • http://brentleary.com learyb

    Nice post Brian.  I really like your additions.  I wrote about something similar to your CIF last year in an ebook I did called Strategically Social.  There’s a free download at Slideshare.net if anyone is interested:

    http://www.slideshare.net/Radian6/radian6-strategically-social-ebook 

    Thank you sir!
    Brent

  • http://brentleary.com learyb

    Nice post Brian.  I really like your additions.  I wrote about something similar to your CIF last year in an ebook I did called Strategically Social.  There’s a free download at Slideshare.net if anyone is interested:

    http://www.slideshare.net/Radian6/radian6-strategically-social-ebook 

    Thank you sir!
    Brent

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  • Jon Ferrara

    The one question I have for all of the people who talk about CRM is do they use them?  Do you live in a CRM system?   Do you manage relationships and engagement in a CRM system? I bet that 90% of the people who have a CRM do not truly manage engagement with them.  That’s THE problem!

    I’ll argue that most of the people who talk about CRM, and even most sales people, live in Outlook, Apple Address Book/Mail/Calendar or Google Mail/Calendar/Contacts.  They  engage with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Foursquare plus a little HootSuite and TweetDeck.  CRM systems are not “Engagement” Systems.  They are lead management and marketing platforms.  The day that teams can actually manage relationships and social engagement in a CRM is the trend that I predict will change the way business is done.

  • Jon Ferrara

    The one question I have for all of the people who talk about CRM is do they use them?  Do you live in a CRM system?   Do you manage relationships and engagement in a CRM system? I bet that 90% of the people who have a CRM do not truly manage engagement with them.  That’s THE problem!

    I’ll argue that most of the people who talk about CRM, and even most sales people, live in Outlook, Apple Address Book/Mail/Calendar or Google Mail/Calendar/Contacts.  They  engage with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Foursquare plus a little HootSuite and TweetDeck.  CRM systems are not “Engagement” Systems.  They are lead management and marketing platforms.  The day that teams can actually manage relationships and social engagement in a CRM is the trend that I predict will change the way business is done.

    • http://twitter.com/KenjiSano Kenji

      How do you manage relationships and social engagement in a CRM?

    • Jon Ferrara

      Kenji,

      Thank you for your question.  We built a platform called Nimble that we use for Contacts, Calendars, Communications, Social Listening and Engagement, Collaboration and Sales/Marketing.

    • http://twitter.com/KenjiSano Kenji

      How do you manage relationships and social engagement in a CRM?

    • Lan

      I live in Outlook. Would I use Nimble in conjunction with it? Is it redundant to use both?

    • Peter Quintana

      I can’t believe that customer relationship management is achieved by ‘living’ in a CRM system any more than it is by living in an email/calendar system. These are simply digital records of human interactions, and as important as it is to maintain these records, it is in honing out ability to interact with people that we will increase the quality of our CRM. 

  • http://twitter.com/LeeVincent2 LeeV Look Solutions

    These are great thoughts and start to get to the real leverage points of the monetization of social media. When an organization can pull that customer “knowledge” in house to do more than the initial situation triage and actually leverage it back into the product/service development cycle, the marketing segmentation analysis and the strategic market development work is when social media is more than just a customer engagement tool – it’s a business evolution framework. Organizations need to evolve their internal processes in line with what technology is enabling them to capture – I think that goes together with Jon’s comment about what is actually happening behind the scenes. Employee behaviours and processes are not optimizing the technology, therefore the ROI is just a small % of what it could be.

    Like many things in business – the employee change cycle has to be maximized in order to leverage the technology evolution to generate returns for the business…

  • http://twitter.com/LeeVincent2 LeeV Look Solutions

    These are great thoughts and start to get to the real leverage points of the monetization of social media. When an organization can pull that customer “knowledge” in house to do more than the initial situation triage and actually leverage it back into the product/service development cycle, the marketing segmentation analysis and the strategic market development work is when social media is more than just a customer engagement tool – it’s a business evolution framework. Organizations need to evolve their internal processes in line with what technology is enabling them to capture – I think that goes together with Jon’s comment about what is actually happening behind the scenes. Employee behaviours and processes are not optimizing the technology, therefore the ROI is just a small % of what it could be.

    Like many things in business – the employee change cycle has to be maximized in order to leverage the technology evolution to generate returns for the business…

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  • http://www.handles4doors.co.uk/ door handles

    I think the CRM will also be depended on a lot more as a means to direct and guide businesses as to how best they go about generating and developing new business.

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  • Matthew Wallis

    Regarding Mr. Pombriant’s point; “lightly-trained” and creative rarely go hand-in-hand. The focus should be on speeding the pace of content availability, after it is produced by creative people, not on dumbing the tools down. Content is always king. 

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  • http://www.CommunitiesDNAblog.com/blog Rolando Peralta

    Great article. I love the #4 talking about “community-focused effort on expanding the company’s reach
    through influence and advocacy programs” because we build Customer and User Communities, and we know it’s the best way to keep aware of competition, advocacy, innovation and consumer trends.
    I did write a post about this one in our blog.cheers,

  • http://www.CommunitiesDNAblog.com Rolando Peralta

    Great article! I love the #4 talking about “community-focused effort on expanding the company’s reach through influence and advocacy programs” because we build Customer and User Communities, and we know it’s the best way to keep aware of competition, advocacy, innovation and consumer trends.

    I did write a post about this one in our blog.

    cheers,

    • http://www.briansolis.com/ briansolis

      Hello Rolando. One of the things I often remind businesses is that communities are not just something to belong to, but to do something together.

ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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