CRM platforms have come a long way from being a handy business tool to store customer information; today, they are not only used to optimize sales operations, but they are also being increasingly deployed to streamline workflows and make business operations of ambitious organizations more efficient.
Here is a quick look at the evolution of CRM systems from their non-digital avatar to widely used software application today.
The earliest form of any CRM system can be perhaps traced back to Rolodex, the rotating device to index cards with customer information. It was a simple mechanism to organize one’s contacts instead of sifting through papers.
The first digital manifestation of the CRM system was Siebel Systems. Tom Siebel created it in July 1993 as an on-premise computer-based application. In the coming decades, the constant and rapid changes in technology were to influence CRM systems greatly just as they impacted how businesses worked and interacted with their customers.
Why have CRM systems become a necessary tool?
Today, organizations cannot afford to ignore CRM systems irrespective of their size and scope of business because many customers continue now use brands based on the quality of customer service. So even though CRMs have helped salespeople to keep track of their leads and contributed vastly in mapping the customer’s journey, their utility to boost the overall performance of an organization has also become impossible to ignore.
Now that customers have easy access to a data connection, mobile devices and global as well as local brands, it has become imperative for organizations to handle their operations at multiple locations for increasing their market outreach while being cost-efficient. Cloud-based CRM platforms have made this possible. Moreover, after adapting to cloud-based technologies, CRMs have become one of the most popular products in the SaaS (Software as a Service) market.
Businesses also have had to leverage their presence digitally because of the modern customers’ tendency to research products or services before they make a buying decision. So, CRM systems now are also capable of gathering data from social media. They have also streamlined the process of spreading product information and interacting with customers through different digital channels.
It has also been possible for many businesses to cut down on menial tasks and bring their workforce together on a central system by using modern CRM platforms. CRMs have made all kinds of data available to everyone, and so, they have made it easy to get rid of managerial communication gaps.
Because of such evolution of CRM systems, it has become necessary for organizations to implement CRM to flourish in the current digital landscape and retain more customers in the hyper-connected world.
What can contemporary CRM systems do?
As you can see, modern CRM systems have continued to adapt themselves to develop into intuitive business platforms. They have not only managed to accelerate sales processes, but they also act as centralized virtual workplaces and encourage transparency and collaboration by doing so.
Here is a list of competencies that most contemporary CRMs can achieve
- They can replace menial and repetitive tasks with automation and increase productivity
- They can cater to processes other than sales
- They provide a comprehensive and central database to manage contacts
- They can track all the interactions with customers across different media channels
- They can store historical interactions with every customer
- They can schedule tasks for every business process
- They can help you to create sales pipelines and monitor them
- They can integrate third-party applications
- They can provide analytics and reporting that be used to identify bottlenecks
- They offer visibility into teams’ and individuals’ efforts and track their performance
Organizations can get immense and immediate strategic advantages with such competent CRM systems and steer their growth for the long haul.
Why will CRM systems continue to evolve?
Even though today CRMs are cloud-based, accessible from mobile phones and boast of comprehensive toolkits, they will still have to sustain the dynamic consumer behavior and advent in technology. They will have to continue to consider the effects of machine learning and information explosion in the coming decades.
People want to do work that is meaningful and can have an impact. So, CRM systems will have to think of improving their automation tools using artificial intelligence (AI). The more efficiently they can include AI-driven automation or robotic process automation (RPA), the more are their chances to set themselves apart. However, it would be interesting to see how soon CRM technology can manage to put AI into real action or will it use AI as a buzzword to create a hype.
Even though technology continues to influence the evolution of CRM systems massively, the use of CRM today is not restricted to tech-savvy organizations or workforce anymore. More and more traditional companies are benefiting as first-time CRM users. Now, organizations can implement modern CRM platforms in less than a day without any need for technical expertise. There is also an increasing demand for CRM solutions that can cater to specific business functions. So, tomorrow’s CRMs are bound to get even more straightforward and more visually appealing, easier to use, and inclusive of specific process-driven toolkits.
However, the evolution of CRM systems will likely continue to align with the overall goal of optimizing customers experience and helping organizations to become more profitable.