It’s easy to underestimate the importance of customer relationship management systems. With the advent of the SaaS revolution, hundreds of CRM solutions popped up, and a huge chunk of the business technology journalism sector began, and continues to choke on so much material comparing CRM solutions back and forth, reviewing integration of it with other systems, as well as extensions and apps … it’s a big thing.
But, I said it was easy to underestimate it. How can I turn around and say it’s a huge deal in business culture, when I opened with saying it was easy to underestimate the importance of customer relationship management? Well, because in its most base definition, it doesn’t sound like that much.
CRM just sounds like customer account and financial databases with fancy interfaces and queries tacked onto them. This is all well and good, and definitely important to certain fields, but … really? This much buzz?
Well, that’s because CRM isn’t just about software, though the software is the glue that binds the phenomenon. Yes, CRM software are databases of customer information, financial information and the like, as well as merchandise in many cases. However, the position that this construct has obtained in businesses is so much bigger, and the field of relationship management has taken on a whole new definition as well.
Every part of a business uses the CRM framework, from marketers working on campaigns based on customer data, product managers and sales people managing transactions and establishing accounts, financial experts reviewing expenses and revenue all the way to the customer service department, where problems are solved and inquiries are answered.
Everyone uses this software, because customer relationship management is all about facilitating the handling of the customer experience. The customer experience, of course, is the sum of all steps a customer traverses in their interaction with you – need generation from marketing, further marketing and publication to appeal during their research, sales and use and of course customer support where needed. Look at all of these departments entwined by the customer experience. Now, as the customer experience is a phenomenon, customer relationship management are the many practices that are utilized to shape a customer experience in the favored if not planned form.
So, the importance of this is impossible to not see, in this light. You need that customer data to market successfully afterward. You need it to drive sales and instate new customers. You need it for product management, and for customer service. And all of those aspects of the customer experience, as we’ve pointed out in the past, are critical.
Once you look past the most basic and unflattering definition of CRM software, and you stop thinking of the customer relationship of only being dynamic during customer service encounters, then you realize it’s a big thing. The importance of customer relationship management is immense, and that is why the doors opened by SaaS have made CRM software one of the first and rapid forays into this new form of software. Your CRM is your core in this century, so choose wisely what you make your core out of.
Michael is the Lead Author & Editor of CRMSimplified Blog. Michael established the CRM blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to CRM.