In the complicated and hype-riddled world of enterprise IT, few systems are more important than customer relationship management software (CRM). Long gone are the days when everything was written down by hand or kept in poorly organized spreadsheets. Today, CRM solutions are more sophisticated than ever, helping companies of all sizes keep track of their customers and automate common sales and marketing tasks. However, as technology evolves, so does CRM, with every year introducing a raft of new trends and challenges.

Now that modern businesses are so heavily reliant on their IT infrastructures, and particularly their digital customer relationships, it’s important to be prepared for change. By keeping up-to-date with current trends in the industry, you can position your business to stay one step ahead of its competitors. CRM is one of the fastest-evolving solutions of all, and the following points touch upon the key factors defining the evolution of modern CRM systems:

Social CRM

Social media is one of the most important marketing platforms of all, but it’s also starting to play an increasingly large role in staying in touch with your customers. A CRM system with integrated “social listening” can dig up important information and add it to your CRM database.

For example, the system might suggest new contacts or track customer interactions based on public activities on social media. Social media has become a major point of contact between businesses and consumers. It has also become a major storehouse for valuable information, ranging from buyer insights, customer support resolutions and reviews.

Company-wide Integration

It is becoming increasingly important for your business’s IT systems to work in harmony to facilitate better collaboration between colleagues, departments and customers. Too often does business grind to a halt because IT systems couldn’t adequately communicate issues between different departments and technologies.

However, CRM is increasingly less likely to be solely about customer relationship management, but also about marketing automation, analytics, accounting and customer support. Integrations with your ERP solution, email, VoIP, and your website allow different departments to access the same data, reducing errors and greatly improving efficiency.

Industry Specialization

Many mainstream CRM solutions are still one-size-fits-all systems designed to offer value to almost any industry. Unfortunately, these systems will never do the job as well as one that serves specific verticals. As CRM becomes more sophisticated, it becomes more specialized, tailor-designed to suit the individual needs of every business.

For example, our solutions extend the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform to provide specialty features and functionality for different industries, such as professional services, financial services, nonprofit, healthcare and distribution. Ultimately, we expect to see the CRM market become broader and more complex in the coming years, especially with regard to the launch of more industry-specific systems.

Data Protection

Unfortunately, there is one area where CRM is unlikely to get any easier in the foreseeable future, and that’s data protection. Legislation regarding the protection of personal data is becoming increasingly complicated, meaning that there are more significant legal considerations to think about when it comes to storing customer data.

Most of the major CRM solutions are owned by US companies, which means businesses with EU customers might run into problems when it comes to storing their personal data. Whether for protected health information or regulated financial data, achieving legal compliance is often far too complex for the average business, especially if it serves customers in multiple jurisdictions. Although CRM vendors often market their software as easy to use, we don’t recommend installing it without the help of a trained professional due to these security issues.

Mobile

Up until recently, mobile apps have been focused on offering a basic set of phone-ready functions, often while deliberately cutting down on other, more advanced features. This is no longer an acceptable approach now that people spend more time using their mobile devices than they do using desktop computers.

Before investing in any CRM solution, your business needs to consider being more than just mobile-ready – your business should be working on becoming mobile-first. In the coming years, we can expect to see mobile CRM really take off, particularly when it comes to the integration of certain mobile services, such as GPS and SMS. Mobile devices have also become a major sales tool, making CRM compatibility a driving force behind the latest innovations.

Cloud-based CRM systems are the norm thanks to the greater accessibility, flexibility and scalability they offer. If you want to find out how WhiteOwl’s CRM solutions can deliver a robust system that helps your business grow its clientele and improve existing relationships, give us a call today at 305-373-0076.