• January 1, 2015
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Where Does CRM Go from Here?

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marketer to use," Fauscette says. "That's an unreasonable task for any sensible span of time. Marketing should be presented as a unified system, with the data model moved to the back."

At the heart of any modern marketing application, though, is the intelligent use of customer data—the more the merrier. "Multisource information gathering and big data insights will have a positive impact on marketing," Ament says. "More information often translates into higher model accuracy and confidence levels when analyzing large amounts of information." Research by Hypatia shows that larger enterprises ($2 billion–plus in revenue) use more than eight information sources when analyzing enterprise data, and rely on this information for a variety of business purposes—marketing being one of them. "In short," Ament says, "big data analysis techniques may very well improve personalization, accuracy, relevancy, and results for marketers if performed effectively."

This also points to a change in priorities for marketers, with a shift from tactical goals to strategic ones. "In the recent past, marketers often focused on personal major business objectives, such as number of newsletter clicks, downloads of collateral, social community or Webinar registrations, or conference attendees," Ament says. "Now that budgets and resources are tighter, we see that marketers are better at justifying their contributions to the organization at a more strategic level. Our research shows that marketers are much better at tracking metrics that align with corporate or business unit goals, such as customer retention, share of wallet, increase in profits, and cost reductions."

Changing priorities means changing culture. "We're starting to look at priorities differently; there's major cultural disruption, but I don't think we've disrupted enough yet," Fauscette says. "Some companies are really bleeding edge, others are still caught in the journey mapping exercise. It's another tool; you can't be tied to it. [You] can't truly predict based on one map—it's more of a model."

To get the most out of a more scientific approach to marketing, businesses may start to hire more scientists. "Part of being data-driven is building behavioral models from social data," Fauscette says. "I still think there's art in how you interpret and use them. We need more social science experts in marketing."

While we're waiting for those social scientists to finish their orientation with HR, we should see improved access and utility for the rank and file as well. "I predict that vendors will provide more user-friendly business intelligence and analytics tools designed specifically for the line-of-business user rather than business analysts and statisticians," Ament says. "These tools will integrate with digital marketing and customer engagement solutions so that marketers are able to use them efficiently."

Empowered Customers, Empowered Service

Developments in sales and marketing are critically important to the future of business, but what about customer service, where the rubber meets the road? This area of business is by nature more reactive than the other two, as its purpose is to respond to occurrences outside the company. Received wisdom tells us that the customer is in control of the conversation—at least in control of when and where it takes place.

"Forrester says that we are in the Age of the Customer. Customers control the conversation with companies that they do business with," says Kate Leggett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. "Companies must become more customer-obsessed to ensure customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty to their brand. Customer loyalty correlates to increased top-line revenue as loyal customers are less likely to churn, more likely to buy additional products, and more likely to serve as...advocate[s]."

"Customers select when they want to interact with you, and the channel for the interaction. After that, I think today's customer is more willing to go where you take them," says John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association. "Product complexity is rising so quickly that customers struggle to use or consume new products; nearly a third of tech support questions aren't break/fix issues, but procedural ones. How do I use the tool? How do I complete a process? Both with consumer and enterprise technology, products are so difficult to learn and master that customers feel less in control, and just want help."

This creates an opportunity for businesses to reframe the engagement. "Once that connection is established, support organizations can be 

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