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CRM trends 2013: A retrospective

The year is almost over, so it's time to look back and reflect on what mattered to the CRM industry in 2013 -- and look ahead to the future.

The year is coming to a close, and the SearchCRM team is analyzing the year behind us, reflecting on the state of CRM in 2013 and looking to the future.

It's been an exciting year, with a few exciting industry announcements, some new CRM trends, and other exciting developments. Below, we listed off what mattered to our readers the most in 2013 -- and offered some predictions of what's to come in 2014.

CRM trends that rocked the world

This year, SearchCRM profiled some professionals who are changing the CRM industry. Some of our most popular profiles included our Former DJ helps businesses do customer engagement like rock stars story  about customer engagement and experience guru Dayna Steele; a look at Blue Shield of California's Jessica Kaufmann in Blue Shield agent maximizes call center efficiency, customer experience; and the International Call Center Management Institute's (ICMI) 2013 lifetime achievement award winner Gerry Barber in Contact center industry lifetime achievement winner still not done yet. Since this industry is so diverse, it has been very interesting to learn about the different career paths available to CRM pros.

We also noticed some arising trends in CRM and in what's important to our readers. CRM metrics were definitely a hot topic, which came as no surprise; which measurements matter and how to quantify a successful call center is still very much up for debate. New contact center metrics recommended to fit new customer channels by Aaron Lester was a very popular contribution to our site, as was CRM metrics: Why it's time to get innovative by Justin Robbins of the ICMI.

The world still seems to be trying to figure out where social media belongs in every aspect of people's lives, from dating to office life to what's admissible in court. Customer service and digital marketing have not escaped this trend. Some articles that examined this theme included Amy's Baking Co: Poster child for social media marketing plan mistakes, Social marketing strategy: Why you need one and how to design it, and Ashley Smith's The secrets of social media for business, revealed. Dayna Steele also wrote a notable tip on social CRM titled, Get to know the audience when forming social CRM strategy.

Mobile CRM also got attention this year with Tablets for business improve sales and CEM by Cameron Kittle, Sue Hildreth's Is mobile customer service the future of CRM?, and The future is now for mobile contact center apps by Aaron Lester. With the advent of new tools designed to make information available anywhere, like Salesforce1, it seems likely that mobile CRM will be hitting its stride in 201; we anticipate lots of new developments in the mobile CRM space next year.

The most earth-shattering CRM news for 2013 was the release of Salesforce1, although Salesforce's acquisition of ExactTarget was pretty important, too. And, while it might not have been CRM industry-changing news, the series Breaking Bad ended, which prompted us to look at Five customer experience management lessons learned from 'Breaking Bad'.

Predicting the future of CRM

So, what are our predictions for the year ahead? It's hard to know, but here's our attempt at reading the tea leaves:

For more on CRM trends

Top 5 CRM trends you should know about

Outsourcing trends for 2014 and beyond

As more data about customers is generated and stored, customer data analytics will grow in importance and availability in 2014. In particular, it will begin to be used for personalization and customer experience purposes. Expect to be expected to predict minutia, from when a customer is likely to reach out to a contact center to what kind of candies they want left on their hotel pillow. Anticipating a customer's needs and preferences will become a standard part of customer service.

With the ICMI awarding its first lifetime achievement award to a major proponent certification and training for contact center leaders, we think there will be an increase in formal education for CRM professionals over the course of the next year. Expect to hear lots of mention of certification programs and training at trade shows and conferences in 2014.

The major trend of mobile technology and the ubiquity of smartphones have paved the way for geo-targeting and geo-fencing applications, which are set to become a major component of digital marketing very soon. Watch for services that depend on location-based technology like Lyft and Uber to become mainstream in the next year, too.

It has been an exciting year in CRM, and it's looking like 2014 will be even more dynamic and momentous.

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