The third wave of CRM: How human is your technology?

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Technology is increasingly designed to meet human requirements. We have moved into an age in which the Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling us to better connect our digital and physical worlds; many devices now have the ability to understand and respond to our needs by - dare we say it - thinking.

Technology developers of all kinds, from car manufacturers to software designers, are increasingly recognising the need to integrate their tools with real human behaviours in order to provide an intuitive user experience – and CRM software is no exception.

This third wave of CRM, or CRM 3.0, is intelligent and proactive, and is finally beginning to understand the most important driving force in the business ecosystem: human relationships.

Origin of the species: CRM 1.0 and 2.0

Traditional customer relationship management tools put little emphasis on the relationship building element and focused more on managing customer data. If you were part of the old-guard you’ll remember how information had to be inputted manually into a complex, office-bound PC system.

For many users this added more administrative tasks to an already busy work day, requiring them to come back to the office in between or after meetings to update the data.

Historical interactions between customers and the business were loaded onto the system but remained immobile, unable to be updated and accessed quickly, and lacking in any contextual value.

The outcome? Key stakeholders simply did not engage with their CRM and as a result, CRM systems became dusty and expensive entities within the office. 

The second wave of CRM took into account the upsurge in mobile technology, and software developers focused their energy on designing apps for everything.

For a CRM system to give your entire business the best support possible, it needs to be connected with your people and processes

At this stage there was more freedom to update and access information as and when needed, from in the office or on the road. Unfortunately, the interface experience lacked any real regards for the complex needs of users, leaving many frustrated, or having to use more than one tool to get the job done.

What is the third wave of CRM?

The third wave of CRM encompasses the growing humanisation of technology by linking data analytics with customer engagement, sentiment, and behaviour.

It’s a responsive selling tool that is constantly working to automatically update data and turn it into intelligent information, providing proactive insight into deals and accounts.

Adding simple, personal touches to customer interactions has become easier: for example, before contacting a customer, you can check where in the world they are and accommodate any difference in time zones – as well as ask them how their trip is going.

Responsiveness is the driving force behind third wave technology. With CRM 3.0 at your fingertips, you can track industry trends and the potential challenges or opportunities they present, double-check all the details of your last interaction at a moment’s notice, and stay alert to any blind spots that could derail an important deal.

The technology has the added benefit of spanning a number of touchpoints, enabling you to pull, assess, and store information from all your customer communications, whether via email, mobile, or social.

Using CRM 3.0

CRM technology is quite often criticised for delighting in appearance, but not in experience. While a flashy dashboard is a nice to have, it is more important that the technology can be easily adopted throughout your company, and cater to an increasingly mobile – and quintessentially human – workforce.

Integrating new software can be daunting: all processes will need to be synced seamlessly with existing infrastructure, while causing little to no disruption to your core business processes.

For a CRM system to give your entire business the best support possible, it needs to be connected with your people and processes, and not side-lined as a standalone, seldom used tool.

The better its integration with your existing enterprise resource planning tools (ERPs), the better able it is to provide a holistic view of your operations, which in turn helps you plan long-term growth strategies.

Technology that breeds results

CRM 3.0 is changing the way humans work by ditching robotic data entry and replacing it with intelligent, human-centric, and responsive relationship management.

This makes complete sense: after all, relationships are not made up of required fields or data points - they’re connections with real people.

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FGWinners
26 Jun 2016, 5:30 p.m.

Have you got any case studies of CRM 3.0 in action or is it still a proposed direction for the industry? I was in a presentation with a leading digital brand last week who talked about this type of "future state" but when I asked how many of their thousands of clients were using it, the answer was none of them. I wander if in an environment where we're stilling trying to extend CRM to go beyond "managing transactions" to "intelligent customer engagement", the thought of CRM 3.0 is still something we enjoy reading about but can't yet put into action

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