James Thew - Fotolia
Check out the podcast on CRM trends for 2015 here:
As we explore potential IT trends for 2015, some themes in customer relationship management have solidified. These trends have been ever-present in CRM, but they are likely to become even more significant in 2015.
The age of the customer, a phrase coined by Forrester Research, has given customers far greater power in their relationships with companies. Customers now have greater access to information, as well as to various forums -- company websites, live chat, social media, self-service options and more -- to get their voices and their grievances heard. As a result, consumers are more able to dictate how they want to communicate with companies, when and where (email, social media, company website and so forth), and what kinds of information they want to receive.
This shift in the role of customers has made three trends in CRM even more significant, said Danny Estrada, a CRM expert and consultant. Estrada outlined three themes that will define CRM in 2015: data analytics, customer engagement and customer experience.
- Actionable data. Estrada said data-driven decision making will become even more essential in 2015. "If your data [is] not talking to you, you need to figure out [how to] become aware of information and what you need to do with it," Estrada said. "That's why analytics becomes so important. There's just way too much data for any individual or team to effectively go through or to understand what type of reporting you need. You need to be able to be able to work with the data and manipulate it. Data will definitely be more actionable in 2015."
- Customer engagement. Estrada said finding ways to interact with customers through whichever channel they choose and engaging them in the brand is a second key theme. How well companies engage with customers may become a competitive differentiator, he said.
"Customers are transitory [for companies] these days. If you're not paying attention to all the different facts of the information and how consumers expect to be treated regardless of the channel they choose -- phone, face to face, Internet -- and if you don't have a handle on how all the interactions take place, then CRM and many other things take a backseat."
- Customer experience. Finally, Estrada said that ensuring customers have a solid experience will continue to be a key theme next year. This is also about creating expectations that a company can follow through on.
"If customer experience doesn't fall in line with customer expectation," there are going to be problems, Estrada said. "Customers are much less patient these days," he said. "If I do something on the Web and get on the phone, I'm assuming that someone on the phone has the information from when I was on the Web. If those things don't start to line up, I start questioning my loyalty.
Ultimately, companies need to focus on data and on engagement with customers to create a better service experience, Estrada said. Companies also need to use data and customer interactions to make better business decisions in real time.
"Speed is the new currency in business," Estrada said. "Having the right information at the right time to make actionable decisions; having that information the way you need to have it to be successful."
IoT's future still unclear
Customer experience and analytics
Understanding the value of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015