Begin measuring ROI as soon as the CRM software deployment is complete according to the metrics put in place early in your project. Since ROI is achieved over time, tracking progress at regular intervals will help you monitor and address the successes and shortcomings of the new processes, make necessary revisions and achieve increasing results over time.
CRM is a journey. Ongoing post-implementation optimization is necessary to get the most out of your investment. Optimization strategies include:
- Rigorously monitoring RIO and reevaluating processes and metrics
- Monitoring usage of the CRM system by employees over time
- Integrating the front and back office business systems
- Taking advantage of software upgrades and new capabilities
- Keeping abreast of new technologies such as Web 2.0 and social CRM (sCRM)
- Reviewing your existing licensing agreement for features you may not be using
- Staying up to date on software maintenance and support issues
- Ongoing customization and optimization of the customer relationship
New Developments in Customer Relationship Management
If the first generation of Customer Relationship Management software was about managing customer interactions and transactions, CRM 2.0 or social CRM, extends the idea into the realm of customer engagement. It recognizes, among other things, that customers interact with other customers on channels that the company does not own. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other customer-driven forums are allowing customers to share their experiences and opinions simultaneously and publicly in ways that can impact a company's bottom line. As social networking sites shift communication and buying power from the company to the consumer, companies are looking to CRM vendors to provide tools to monitor, engage and leverage the information gleaned from these new social channels.
Social CRM Integration
CRM software vendors are finding new ways to integrate social media into their product offerings, mostly by treating social media as a new channel. By developing tools that track, monitor and analyze social networking conversations, vendors are finding ways to deliver value to their marketing, customer service and sales modules. CRM vendors at all levels will continue to aggressively develop and enhance their social CRM offerings.
The concept of simple CRM was developed as a backlash against the ever more complex and expensive solutions that have frustrated adopters over the last ten years. Bloated with features and requiring major technical and administrative involvement, these customer management applications left a less-demanding segment of the market behind. Developers revisited basic functionality and the result is Simple CRM, a small software package that manages the core activities of CRM: contact management and interactions with customers. Open source CRM solutions may bring the next wave of simple CRM products. Some Simple CRM software programs such as CRM Express Free are even available as free downloads while others cost under $100. Many are pared down versions of larger solutions and many are designed to work with MS Outlook or databases like ACT. Most are web-based.
Slimming down CRM packages into thin-client solutions accessible on mobile devices is now a reality that is credited with having liberated sales professionals and others from their desktop and laptop computers. While the Blackberry has been the device of choice, the CRM mobile market is fluid and vendors have optimized their product offerings for the full range of smart phones and PDAs, including Windows Mobile Smart phones, iPhone, Palm, Nokia, Google Android and others. Mobile solutions can often be deployed wirelessly through an email push-to-staff technology. All major CRM vendors at both the SMB and enterprise level either offer similar mobile solutions or have them in the product road map.
Social CRM recognizes that customers interact with other customers on channels that the company does not own. As social networking sites shift communication and buying influence from the company to the consumer, companies are looking to CRM vendors to provide new tools to monitor, engage and leverage the information gleaned from these new social channels.