The Benefits, Challenges, and Future of Customer Relationship Management Software to Businesses

The Benefits of CRM Solutions

There are many benefits of CRM or Customer Relationship Management software. They include automation of the upstream and the downstream sales and marketing processes.

Further, by implementing a CRM solution, businesses can integrate their routine and administrative tasks associated with cold calling, customer management, and pre-sales as well as after sales follow up by ensuring that the CRM software takes care of these aspects.

In other words, businesses can benefit from the linking of sales and marketing activities, which would considerably reduce the amount of manual labor and manual processes needed otherwise. Moreover, businesses can invest in an ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning system which when integrated with the CRM software can lead to synergies and efficiencies from the various disparate organizational processes that are now linked together.

Apart from this, CRM solutions also add value by business intelligence and data mining of the customer database that is also known as data warehousing. All these are the usual benefits of implementing a CRM solution. There are some challenges with CRM implementations, as we shall discuss subsequently.

It would suffice to state here that by implementing a CRM solution, the integration and automation would definitely lead to better efficiencies, increased productivity, and synergies between the various processes.

The Challenges of CRM Implementations

The challenges associated with a CRM solution include the need to invest significant amount of money in the process. As the CRM solutions do not come cheap, businesses must make the required investments and be prepared to wait and let the benefits actualize instead of being impatient and demanding instant solutions.

The point here is that CRM implementations are usually long drawn affairs, which means that the commitment from the businesses must be deep and meaningful.

Further, there is the slip between the cup and the lip as far as CRM implementations are concerned. These relate to the lack of coordination between the businesses and the vendors that usually result in the requirements being not met because the vendors did not understand the requirements properly and the businesses were pressurizing the vendors for faster implementations and quicker results.

Apart from these challenges, the users need to be trained properly and this is an aspect that does not receive the attention it deserves. This is because of the fact that unless the users are trained in using the CRM software, there are likely to be mismatches between the user expectations and the reality of the implementation.

The Future of CRM Solutions

We have discussed the benefits and the challenges associated with CRM implementation. If we look at the future evolution of the CRM solutions and the future trends, we find that in the future, CRM would be web based and analytics driven.

In other words, this means that CRM would be used along with Data Analytics and the emerging trend of Big Data that are the future drivers for CRM.

Further, social media would need to be integrated with the CRM solutions so that users can have the benefit of web 2.0 being integrated into the CRM solutions.

Apart from this, the emerging trend of eCRM or the electronic commerce based CRM would mean that EDI or Electronic Data Interchange would be the transmission mechanism through which the CRM solutions will be implemented.

Moreover, the days of standalone CRM solutions are over and the future would belong to CRM solutions being an integral part of the overall organizational automation and process integration. This would mean that CRM would not be an isolated solution but would be part of the holistic approach towards integration of the entire organizational activities.

Concluding Thoughts

Finally, the benefits, challenges, and the future of CRM that were discussed in this article point to the fact that in the future, success in implementing CRM solutions would depend on the extent of top leadership vision and commitment as the realization of the requirements and the translation into actionable implementations would need the support of all stakeholders.

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Customer Relationship Management