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Companies are constantly looking for new ways to connect with consumers, provide better service and make processes more efficient. In 2014, companies explored new ways to achieve these goals by incorporating technology and new approaches into their services.
The focus was on creating a presence on multiple communication channels -- such as their corporate websites, phone, mobile, social and others -- but also on connecting customer information gained from these new, digital avenues back into company databases, such as a CRM system. Companies are also thinking about developing customer service with a mobile-first approach, where they develop for a mobile, not a PC, environment as the default trying to integrate wearables, location-based services and other applications that can yield valuable customer data into mobile strategies.
While traditional communication channels such as phone and email still largely dominate organizations' customer service offerings, companies are trying to develop a strong presence on digital channels. Organizations are considering a range of channels to interact with consumers, such as a company website, live chat, video chat, social media or even through text messages. But companies need to identify which channels customers use most before they commit to multichannel strategies.
In 2014, companies also bolstered offerings such as subscription-based services and used crowdsourcing through community forums to address customer concerns in a low-cost way. Other trends included employee engagement and its effect on molding a good customer experience as well as customer nurturing strategies centered on retention.
This guide compiles coverage of the key CRM trends of 2014. SearchCRM conducted podcasts with various CRM experts who commented on the challenges businesses have in achieving these goals and where the CRM industry is headed.
The ubiquity of smartphones and tablets among customers and businesspeople alike has changed the way companies view CRM. For companies to offer in-the-moment service, they must aim to reach customers on their mobile devices. Trends such as geofencing and wearables are looking to disrupt mobile CRM practices and provide new opportunities for companies to connect with consumers.
Why is mobile CRM software slow to take off?
Mobile CRM software still has technological issues, such as interoperability and integration, to overcome before it is widely accepted.
Companies are deciding how issues such as the Internet of Things, wearables, geolocation and personalization come into play in mobile customer service.
Wearables, geolocation technology gathering steam
Companies are bracing themselves for how location-based services will affect their customer service offerings.
Tread carefully with mobile geofencing
Geolocation data can boost marketing practices but privacy concerns still linger.
Mobile a key topic at Dreamforce 2014
Salesforce is responding to companies' push toward mobile-first strategies, but cost is still a major factor.
Salesforce Wave aims to bring analytics to the masses
Salesforce's native, mobile analytics application aims to bring more business intelligence, reporting and data visualization to its platform.
While they are still important forms of customer communication, traditional channels such as phone calls and emails are giving way to digital forms of service such as live chat, video chat, company website and social media. But these new platforms bring their own data challenges that companies have to reconcile before they can provide good service.
Omnichannel a tough concept to achieve
Integration is essential to make omnichannel customer service a reality.
Multichannel strategies need to be carefully planned
Well-developed processes and internal structures must be set up before a multichannel strategy is initiated.
Getting smarter on analytics, customer engagement
The age of the customer has forced companies to hone in on customer preferences and create an experience based on data and analytics.
Mixing up the right marketing strategy
Companies honing their marketing strategies shouldn't choose between inbound and outbound marketing. They need both.
Social CRM is table stakes now
Social customer service has become so important that it's no longer considered separate from regular CRM practices.
To satisfy customers in a digital world, companies are investing in new technologies and revamping their offerings to cater to consumer needs and preferences. In 2014, trends such as subscription models and customer nurturing technologies gained steam, while community forums and other software meant to foster collaboration and discourse among customers came to the forefront.
Customer experience management should resonate through entire organization
Contact centers are still struggling with understanding the customer journey and proactively engaging customers on emerging channels.
Active listening the secret ingredient to good CRM
Contact center agents and managers sometimes forget to listen to the voice of the customer.
Community forums become customer support venues
Customer support software exploits community forums to address support issues in a low-cost way.
Community software is just one tool in the toolbox
Community software provides a new way for customers to air their grievances, but it shouldn't be seen as a cure-all.
CRM software subscription models gaining relevance
Do cloud-based CRM subscription models make sense for companies in the long run?
Lead-scoring models can pay off for companies
Marketing and sales alignment is needed to get the best ROI from lead-scoring models.
What can companies benefit from a subscription model?
Subscription-based models have gained traction as a way to satisfy consumers' need for more flexible delivery and pricing options.
Companies searching for new revenue streams, business models
Organizations are adapting to trends such as the Internet of Things, subscription models and predictive analytics to get closer to customer needs.
Connecting with customers is a crucial part of CRM. But making life easier for employees and ensuring business processes are efficient is equally important. Companies might have to institute a change in philosophy to make sure internal processes are running smoothly, or invest in technology that integrates data and systems to get a single view of the customer.
How small and medium-sized businesses can drive customer loyalty
For smaller businesses, successful CRM needs a mix of the right processes, people and technology.
Employee empowerment the key to customer engagement
Granting customer-facing staff the authority to improve the customer experience helps prevent an interaction from getting out of control.
Engaged employees make for good customer experience
Some experts argue that good customer experience hinges on engaged employees -- and that means all employees, not just those in contact centers.
CRM system integration essential to business process
A lack of CRM system integration with other corporate data can have a negative effect on any IT project.
Is it time to flip your marketing budget?
Customer nurturing technologies can help give more attention where it's due.
Make emotional connections to ensure marketing success
CRM leadership through every stage of the project process
Social customer service needs integration to yield ROI