New tools and technologies will always emerge but you have to make sure they tie in with your company’s overall goals.
It’s easy to look at what’s coming down the line and figure out ways to incorporate it. No company wants to fall behind in trends and risk struggling to keep up with demand or having rivals gain an advantage.
However, while being proactive and thinking a step or two ahead is vital, decisions should always make sense for the business in the long run.
There’s no point adding AI or machine learning to your CRM system if you’re unsure what its use will be, cautions Ergo’s CRM solutions manager Phil Ryan.
“I tend not to lead with the likes of AI, or chatbots. Those are in the toolbox if needs be but I think it ends up missing the whole point of business value if you lead with those types of tools.
“The driver for us is always looking at the maturity of the organisation and where they want to move to. Sometimes they’re happy just to move to an automation level of maturity, not innovation, like just wanting spreadsheets.
“They don’t really want chatbots, they don’t really want open channels or [to] innovate and that’s fine, we move them to the next level of maturity, so it’s really recognising what the business priorities are and that’s where we start the conversation.”
Ryan and the CRM team at Ergo focus on building a ‘what if’ picture of where the organisation could be if it started today.
In a process typically lasting for two weeks, it works with key members of an organisation to create this picture, one that would deliver value and makes the client’s business adaptable for the future
The purpose is to identify potential problems and how solutions can integrate with a client’s current systems.
“We found that it works better than the traditional requirements-scheduling exercise,” Ryan says. “It goes around the business and produces a 200-page document that’s up for tender, then it comes back and the requirements are in conflict.
“There’s no real alignment with what current technology has to offer; there’s no vision as to what it could be. It’s just solving today’s problems with today’s understanding of those problems. We found this method of envisioning to be very useful from a business perspective; it’s a small investment for what potentially produces your road map [for the future].”
In some ways, Ryan and his team are looking at how to tie new technologies back into existing entities, in areas such as analytics, where there is a need for more data-specialisation workers. Since CRMs now work at all levels of a company, having a great understanding of business data and metrics is key.
“It’s CRM that helps generate data that goes into these metrics, that is one of the key trends,” he says. “The need of the organisation’s heartbeat to be systematically measured from the raw data.
“That’s where CRMs are playing a part in keeping the heartbeat of the organisation at all levels . . . [so] the team leads are looking at exactly the same set of data and the same dashboards, at the levels appropriate [to each department].
“The needs that are coming out from most of our clients are around getting to grips with how they’re doing, how they’re performing as an organisation, and how they can engage with their clients –the traditional CRM workloads around customer engagement, customer retention and customer prospecting.”
The fact that CRMs can cover this much ground shows how much the tool has changed in the last few years. From being a fixed entity to covering every aspect of the business, the core of handling volumes of data remains the same.
“If you looked back at the previous generations of CRMs, the volumes of data were small enough,” he explains. “You may have ERP-type sales data which may have been of some volume but not particularly overwhelming. Now, leaving big data to one side, we’ve got a feed of data [to deal with].
“That’s what we do in our CRM practices, try to sift through that data to get to the real actionable insights that need to get into the hand of the sales reps, the marketing team, the operations management service desk.”
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