Assessing Readiness for Mobile CRM

Untethered, real-time wireless initiatives have once again provided momentum for mobile and wireless solutions to enhance employee productivity and customer satisfaction. Remotely retrieving and entering data on ruggedized, handheld systems can provide improved levels of service for companies with route sales and field service organizations alike. But deployment of these types of mobile systems is unwise unless an underlying strategy is in place with defined processes and integration needs. The strategy should also include a breakeven analysis of whether real-time synchronization is cost justifiable or not. Before organizations get too enamored with these solutions they first must understand what problem(s) they are trying to solve and identify measurable ROI. For mobile field sales automation of processes is highly dependent on the selling model of the corresponding vertical industry. For instance, consumer package goods industries calling on retailers rely on an iterative sales model. Purchasing the correct technology for the selling method and vertical industry required narrows the choices of technologies and applications. Wireless devices can capture data on promotions and execute onsite; remote order entry allows for faster delivery cycles and reduced inventory. This is enabled by daily route settlement capabilities by uploading the periods (or days) transactions. Marketing, sales, or operations management can use this current information to analyze delivery progress, track returns, manage inventory or provide more effective marketing offers. Conversely B2B capital goods suppliers pursue an opportunistic selling model with higher ticket items, longer sales cycles, discrete transactional in nature. B2B organizations use of real-time, wireless devices enable selling processes from order entry through "available to promise," providing the peace of mind to the customer who knows their order has been correctly placed with an expected delivery status. All of this can happen before the salesperson leaves his customer's office. Each type of organization must understand how well their existing sales processes are documented and accepted, and how customer friendly they are before they endeavor into any automating the process. Organizations needing greater effectiveness with field service resources benefit by use of mobile devices, as the cost of field service organizations can be 50 to 65 percent of the firm's service revenue. In addition, pressure to meet conditions in service level agreements is a driver to increase quality and responsiveness. However, deployment of mobile devices will not help unless there is a strategy to map processes, such as dynamic call dispatching. This allows technicians to receive and respond to calls that might be close to a nearby call rather than coming back at a later time or day after leaving the area. Also, mean time to repair can be expedited by remotely accessing schematics or product information that assists in repair. Effective use of these requires integration to existing operations and customer support systems. Real-time mobile devices for CRM can have a wide-ranging positive impact on customer satisfaction through automation for both simple and complex functions. The more complex functions need the most attention to processes and bandwidth considerations. But only effective understanding of these functions by the organization and technology vendors will result in satisfaction becoming a realization. For successful implementations, organizations must use incentives to drive user adoption of customer-centric strategies and to realize whatever success metrics have been established. About the Author Fred Landis is the program leader for Frost & Sullivan's CRM Practice. He is responsible for ongoing research in the area of CRM, including tracking strategies, processes, and technologies through market assessments, competitive analyses, alliance strategies, market forecasts, and end-user demand studies. Landis has nearly 20 years experience in research, sales, marketing and customer service functions. Most recently he served as director, consulting for Gartner. Prior to Gartner he held marketing management roles with Netscape Communications, Madge Networks, and State-of-the-Art (Best) software. Landis received a BS in Business Administration from the University of Southern California, and an MBA from Pepperdine University. Contact him at
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