The Future of Mobile CRM

Traditionally, CRM has been associated with lead tracking, contact management, and post-sales customer service support. At Mavenlink, we believe that there is a missing element in this definition—professional service delivery and the customer relationship management that happens after the sale, via project management and financial tracking through to payment and reporting.

The Vital Role of Mobile

There are many benefits to using a mobile CRM system. To begin, it allows remote employees to use mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, to access, update, and interact with customer data whenever they want, wherever they are. Everyone in the company who touches the customer in any way uses the CRM system.

Employees and subcontractors in the field can now add status reports and record their own contacts, tasks, deliverables, time, and expenses without needing to return to the office. Having the ability to update team members in real time allows everyone the opportunity to be more productive in day-to-day activities. It also enables executives to oversee project status in real time and maintain true control over the delivery.

In addition, since CRM is no longer just about lead generation and support, implementation of mobile CRM can be rapid and effective if you consider your entire audience. For those that use their CRM system for service delivery, one thing to consider is that both employees and clients can have access to your platform. The above benefits can be extended to customers as well.

In the past, organizations were happy to simply collect weekly or monthly status reports on how their projects were developing. Now, executives want immediate, transparent communication, live project updates, and status reports anywhere, anytime. As a result, the ability to use CRM and project management tools from any mobile device is no longer simply a nice-to-have feature for businesses. It has become essential.

When the customer has access to certain elements of the CRM system, permissions within the platform should enable them to see client-side views only. Mobile then enables everyone to be on track and engaged from any time at any place. For example, a salesperson can post the status of a lead right in the feed. The project manager can add and update tasks, employees can attach files or add time and expenses, and clients can approve expenses or invoices.

Mobile Technology Enablers

A platform-neutral technology such as HTML5 can make adoption much easier, since users simply go to their mobile browser and don't need to download applications, manage updates, or keep track of which devices are compatible. As HTML5 applications keep getting faster, more powerful, and easier to use, we will continue to see rapid growth in their development and implementation.

Another way to increase adoption and ROI of mobile CRM is to emphasize the key benefits to users. Mobile CRM can make people's lives much easier. For example, they can update status, add comments and tasks, and attach and approve expenses any time from any location. These capabilities will make them much more productive, efficient, and in control of their daily deliverables.

In 2013 and Beyond

This is the year that mobile CRM will finally take off, as businesses of all sizes continue to hire remote workers and provide them with devices that support mobile versions of reliable CRM applications. While remote workers may use a tablet or a smartphone, they won't need both anymore. By bringing all these activities into one comprehensive system, companies obtain considerably more control of their business relationships, their work status, and, ultimately, their productivity and profitability.

CRM tools are constantly emerging that can reveal connections between people that previously had only been uncovered with a "Do you know a good (fill in the blank)?" As the space continues to be defined and developed, imagine a world of "trust sourcing" different from LinkedIn or Facebook—one that includes a commercial element. In this world, people can choose to share their economic network with others, make referrals for a fee, and/or solicit work from others in their network.

Can you imagine a world where all small and medium businesses on the planet are networked and exchanging value, both quickly and efficiently, through a shared workplace? No need to imagine…it's already here.

Ray Grainger is the CEO of Mavenlink, which he founded in 2008. Previously, he was executive vice president of professional services and strategic alliances at InQuira and a global managing partner at Accenture. He is a trustee and chairman of the finance and budget committee at Harvey Mudd College.

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