The CRM State of the Union: It’s Time for Empathy with the Customer

A Sea Change for CRM

The shift from a product- to a customer-centric approach is forcing businesses to fundamentally rethink how they engage customers. It costs eight times more to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones—so every single customer interaction matters. Each one provides a chance to build a better customer relationship, and it is this relationship that forms the core of customer experience and the basis for product and brand loyalty. 

Today, the fastest-growing companies have evolved beyond the customer-centric model of the past and now focus their attention on the entire customer relationship. With competitors just one click away, today’s best brands focus on building loyalty and trust through every single customer interaction.

Modern CRM must put your customer relationship front and center and enable you to measure, act on, and grow each customer relationship over time.

Unfortunately, legacy CRMs have failed to harness the power of customer relationships. Customers today have much higher expectations of the companies and brands they select.  They want tailored experiences. They want convenience, familiarity, trust, and a deep relationship with the brands they support, and they want every customer experience to reinforce that relationship.

What's Next?

Through 2020, businesses that deploy CRM technology in such a way that it reflects empathy toward the customer are three times more likely to fend off a digital disrupter, according to Gartner. Furthermore, “greater customer intimacy” was the top-cited business driver for the office of the chief data officer (62 percent) in another recent Gartner study.

CRMs of the future will employ relationship-linking to help determine the best way to interact with customers, making clear social connections and possible avenues of influence that would otherwise be hidden in legacy CRM.

Rather than blindly cold-calling contacts, sales representatives could analyze each prospect’s connections and experience with the business. The CRM could uncover whether members of the team have strong social connections to the contact and recommend a personalized handoff. Or, a relationship graph could measure the improvement or decline of a customer’s relationship with a firm and raise the alarm if it dips to risky levels—helping companies proactively address dissatisfaction and reduce churn.

Today’s best brands focus on building loyalty and trust through every customer interaction. The CRM of the future will enable relationship-centric companies to harness that vast stream of data to customize and personalize each customer’s experience—building brand loyalty, trust, and credibility in a fortuitous loop where every interaction deepens that customer relationship.


Anthony Smith is the CEO and founder of Insightly. He built the first version of Insightly in six months after identifying a market need for a CRM solution focused on small business. He has previous experience designing and building customer relationship management software for enterprise use. Prior to Insightly, Anthony worked as a consultant for IBM and as a software engineer for global mining consultancy Snowden.

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