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Why designing for mobile CRM has been falling flat

While companies are hot to trot on mobile CRM, they can lose sight of the purpose of mobile tasks: to bring efficiency and productivity.

While companies are hot to trot on mobile customer relationship management (CRM), creating effective mobile environments that work for users can be a tall order. Reducing tasks down to a few clicks that users can complete in a mobile view requires breaking them down to their essence and putting the user front and center. And designing for mobile can be tough when the market is fragmented and there are so many devices available, with varying capabilities.

With mobile CRM applications, salespeople and marketers should be able to quickly create a new prospect record, take notes or send email to customers without getting buried in a series of scrolls, swipes and clicks that are designed for PC-based tasks. So, mobile CRM design can't just take the desktop and translate it to a tablet. Instead, designing mobile CRM means rethinking how we create workflows in the software, simplifying and diluting steps and putting users' ease of access and productivity first. But CRM vendors -- and companies customizing their CRM for users -- aren't always ready to make these changes.

So, how can we bridge the gap in terms of how users want to use mobile for CRM and how they can use it today? Let's take a look.

Understanding users' mobile habits

One of the key uses for mobile CRM is greater productivity and efficiency. But to gain those efficiencies, companies need to define fundamental needs to accelerate workers' day-to-day performance. Companies can only move forward with mobile CRM when they have a grasp on what workers do when they are at a client meeting, in the airport or trying to send a marketing email from the train, and what makes sense for these scenarios. This may be the single biggest factor in solid mobile CRM design.

But many companies struggle with mobile adoption because they customize too much when mobile tasks should be simple and uncomplicated instead. Well-designed mobile CRM software will distill tasks down to their essence and complete tasks in just a few clicks rather than requiring a good deal of scrolling or clicking through screens. It should also be easy to go back to previous screens or to undo recent actions, and any completed task should also be editable. Because the mobile environment can introduce trigger-happy users or error-prone data entry, it should always be easy to revisit one's recent tasks in mobile CRM.

For mobile CRM to work, companies need to start from scratch.

Most user companies take a piecemeal approach to making CRM platforms mobile-ready, adding fields and forms, and creating a cumbersome mobile platform that is difficult to use. Companies need to cease weighing these apps down with small enhancements and start rethinking tasks for a mobile environment.

Companies also need to design for smartphones and tablets, because they offer different scenarios for use and different feature sets. This is becoming even more of an issue as vendors release new iterations of these devices, as there are scenarios that are more tablet- than phone-friendly, such as dashboards, reports and analytics.

For mobile CRM to work, companies need to start from scratch. Consider this an opportunity to avoid the pitfalls discussed earlier, or else you may fail in your mobile CRM efforts. From a practical standpoint, you should at least analyze the current state of your platform, user needs, and the evolution of technology every couple of years in order to stay on top of providing the optimal solution.

Next Steps

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Dig Deeper on Customer relationship management (CRM)

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When my company reaches out to clients and customers with mobile devices, we have a three-tiered goal in mind: Ease of use, an intuitive user interface, and consistency with the communications going cross-platform. With more business being done on mobile devices, this is impressive for our company. Also knowing that many mobile device users have a base system in their home or office means the cross-platform aspect is crucial to our mobile device uses.
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What are the main goals your company tries to accomplish when it engages customers on mobile devices?
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