Customer relationship management (CRM) software is adapting to take advantage of technological advances. It previously got its information from your company’s internal resources, with marketing teams inputting new contacts, sales teams adding new prospects and customers, and customer service updating each customer record. Now CRM get data from mobile phones, social media, web analytics, e-commerce, the cloud, and, yes, even the Internet of Things.
CRM is a growth industry. Gartner forecasts that the CRM industry will be a $23.9 billion market in 2014. Half of this will be cloud-based deployments.
You might think the IoT would not really be a factor when it comes to CRM growth — that other technologies are important. True, social media are good sources of leads, and they offer a great way to interact with your customers. In fact, marketing departments are constantly monitoring, communicating with, and engaging customers on social media. Customer service people are constantly responding to inquiries and complaints made on Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn.
Mobile devices, meanwhile, are changing the way people go online. Thanks to mobile devices, people have ready access to the Internet just about anywhere.
At the same time, big data and the cloud are making it possible to gather and store information about their customers. Analysis of this data can offer insights on things like what other products customers might be interested in based on the products they have bought before. What’s more, there are now cloud-based CRM software suites that you can use, ensuring that you can scale and be agile as your needs grow.
Who would have thought that connected devices and sensors would do a lot for customer relationships? But if you think about it, the IoT helps augment the other drivers. For one thing, the IoT is truly becoming ubiquitous, with appliances, cars, healthcare implements, and even your own body becoming part of it. The sensors are becoming cheaper and more powerful. That means businesses can now have a lot more information about their customers at their disposal, and this information could lead to the creation of more services and more data for predictive analysis. In short, these Internet of Things devices will soon be able to gather the data you want and need to understand your customers more fully.
The Internet of Things can help businesses come up with services that were not possible before. Insurance companies, for instance, are now using telematics and sensors in the car to help determine the premiums they should charge for car insurance. This setup is much fairer to the car owner, because the rate represents his or her own risks, rather than the risks associated with the demographics to which he or she belongs. For getting the right premiums for your insurance, this is the next best thing to having an insurance company employee with you when you drive. This system was simply not possible before. The IoT also has a lot of potential in the hospitality, healthcare, construction, and automotive industries.
If your CRM system could tap the mountain of information gathered by these sensors and transmitted by IoT devices, you surely would have a wealth of insights to mine. For instance, some car dealers also offer car insurance to their customers. You could take a look at the sensor readings on the customer’s car to find out what premium rate you should charge. If you have a health food business, and you want to offer new services to your customers, you can check out what sensor data is available to you and pair it with purchase data you have kept on your CRM system to find out what products are most likely to be needed and bought.
And, lest you forget, a smartphone or tablet is also an IoT device, offering information on customer activity, purchases, and even movement.
So it is really not surprising that the IoT is now considered a primary driver for CRM investments. It helps all the other previously identified drivers, allowing the CRM software to gather more data for your predictive analysis, helping you understand your customers better, and keeping track of their behavior. This will not only allow you to anticipate and cater to their current needs, but it also can help you offer something new that would interest them.