The Customer Relationship Management : Top 5 Customer Relationship Management Trends for 2015

By | June 30, 2015

CRM :Customer Relationship Management

Customer Relationship Management (or CRM) is back! What a difference a few years makes. Not too long ago, surveys were reporting that 70-75% of all CRM initiatives failed. That was yesterday. This is today. While CRM implementation results leave a lot to be desired, it is amazing what can happen when institutions go from treating CRM as an ad hoc “skunkwork” operation to treating it as a formally constructed corporate initiative. Don’t say we didn’t tell you so.

The fact that you’re at this site likely means that to CRM or not to CRM is not the question. The question is how to do it effectively? How do you create the strategy/vision, manage expectations, how do you organize around the customer, and how do you implement CRM best practices? The answer to these questions lie not only in the imagination but also in the execution of technology. For this reason, you will find plenty of tech talk on these pages. Don’t shy away from these areas as these issues are well within the marketer’s purview and quite frankly, the devil is in the details. Overall, within this site, we tend not to take an IT-dominant view of CRM but more of a business strategy view of CRM and fit the IT-components into the business strategy. And at other times, we bring it down to the very tactical level.

Before we leave this introduction, we want to echo a point of view by Bryan Pearson of Alliance Data Systems on a subject that has been truly troubling us for some time – that is CRM marketers’ seemingly singular focus on data analytics to the detriment of imagination. Mr. Pearson wrote:

“Instead of developing real relationships with our customers, we often reduced them to mere ones and zeroes… Today, the balance between art and science has teetered inexorably toward science as the true artistry we develop dwindles.”

Science is burying the art of customer relationships. As such we are stalling as marketers as we fail to innovate. Our industry has historically been the most innovative in the marketing realm. In this increasingly competitive environment, let us not forget our innovative heritage. After all, “scientists can explain the world, but only artists can give it meaning.”

Top 5 CRM Trends for 2015

With the stock market trading near new highs, an economy, arguably in a steady growth mode, and new business formation rebounding, marketers are finding the marketplace cluttered. Old school advertising isn’t as effective as it once was. There are over 60 trillion individually indexed web pages out there. According to IBM, 90 percent of the data in the world today was created in the last 2 years. The average e-mail subscriber gets 416 commercial messages a month. Breaking through to your customer is harder than ever before. In this complex environment, we offer 5 new trends for 2015 that will challenge marketers:

1) Content: Corporate web sites tend to be loaded with irrelevant content. They also often fail to meet Google’s Quality Score guidelines which power Google’s Adwords. Consumers, on the other hand, are much more sophisticated today which means that companies need content that is interesting and relevant on all platforms, in order to make that emotional and rational connection that is necessary for engagement. Consumers want in-depth information, and they want it now. Hence marketers are creating shareable content and microsites to highlight products and promotions, but also deliver targeted messages around topics relevant to the buying stages (information at the prospect stage and offers at later stages).

Some brands are finding that content can be four times more effective than a traditional marketing campaign. These same brands are selecting content niches that they feel they can own – often in niches that, arguably, have little direct relation to the products they sell. Companies that are leading in content include:

P&G’s BeingGirl
Out-Law, a UK law firm
OpenView Venture Partners – a VC firm no less
Louis Vuitton: Art
Burberry: music
Red Bull: sport

2) Geo-location: This affects both the digital and offline worlds equally as we now have a physical cookie. No, we’re not speaking of Local Search, we’re talking about customers near or in brick-and-mortar stores or digital kiosks receiving geo-located messages and offers. Retailers can now, via mobile phone signals, track customer movements around and within a store. Retailers can even identify repeat shoppers and keep a record of their in store behavior.

WIth beacon technology, it is now possible to push messages to consumers when retailers think they are relevant to consumers. Not too far off will be the day when a retailer can push offers based upon knowing a consumer’s prior location e.g. consumer just near the beach, on their way back to their hotel could receive a push offer for swim wear that the consumer could purchase as they passed the retailer’s store or digital kiosk, or they could purchase it from the comfort of their hotel room.

This technology, while still in its infancy, is rapidly being adopted by retailers and is going to fundamentally change the way retailers think of their customers. Data analytics just rose to a new level.

3) Customer Experience: According to McKinsey, seventy percent of a customer’s buying experience is based on how the customer feels they are treated. Today, customers have more choices than ever and are more frugal. This affords them the luxury of demanding more. Key to satisfying this empowered customer is offering a holistic experience across all company touch points and developing the infrastructure that allows for knowledge sharing and smart communication.

Smart organizations will hire a Chief Customer Experience Officer; a position that will reside outside of marketing, sales and operations. The CCEO’s role will be to have a single view of the customer, identify and capitalize on unmet expectations and shift the entire enterprise toward a customer-centric decision making process. An end result could include customers having a direct say in what is sold by the company e.g. ModCloth or Republic Bike.

Given that customer loyalty is directly correlated to the customer’s brand experience, having authentic personal interactions both before and after a purchase has been made will be the number one priority of all customer-facing companies. Tactics like content creation, loyalty programs and gamification will continue to play an integral role in the customer experience development, but so will initiatives that enable a holistic experience e.g. Uber which allows customers to hail, track and pay for a taxi via its web site and/or mobile app. Or Ikea’s recent tie-up with AirBnb in Australia to bring their showroom to life.

Retailers, that in the past have tended to tie their loyalty programs to a private label or general purpose credit card, will begin to experiment with multi-tender loyalty programs. As a result of the Great Recession and legal requirements, the cold hard truth is that two-thirds of adults under age 30 currently have no credit cards at all. Retailers wanting to capture the Millennial market will have to become more inventive in order to capture this shopper. Using cash or debit will no longer preclude consumers from participating in a retailer’s loyalty program efforts.

4) Personalization and customization: In order to be effective in this new year, companies will seek to know more about its customers and use that insight to talk, engage and interact with their customers more often and more meaningfully in new and innovative ways (including mobile, dynamic content, apps, blogs, social). Static web sites are no longer enough, they need to be social, inspirational, and personal.

Given the unique nature of mobile (a single phone number), Marketers can now learn customer habits and offer more proactive services, such as personal assistants to provide curated guidance in store, custom menus in restaurants that exclude foods you clearly don’t like, or have allergies to. WIth Google Now, Marketers now have access to a tool that learns from your phone and tablet activity to make intelligent choices based on ones you have already made.

But perhaps the most interesting development in this trend is Flayr. Still in beta in France, Flayr taps into the online recommendations of your social media network; combines that with other personal information, to bring your attention to specific products and where they can be purchased.

Like it or not, 2015 is going to be up close and personal.

5) Omnichannel: Omnichannel is critical today as many brick-and-mortar stores are experiencing negative or anemic year-over-year retail sales growth; but the online component of omnichannel continues to do well as consumers slowly alter the balance of their purchase behavior – shifting more online. Those companies that understand that the brand’s offline dynamism needs to be recreated online – that sense of discovery, inspiration and entertainment – will be the companies that survive and prosper. Who says that e-commerce sites can’t intermingle presentation, curation and yes, personality? This is the year that the customer’s mobile and digital experiences will evolve and rival the customer’s offline experience – hopefully with some fun and humor mixed in.

The idea of ” first screen” and ” second screen” is no longer relevant to marketers as consumers never had a device by device mind set. Screens have blended together. Consumers want a seamless and consistent experience, digitally and offline. It is now incumbent upon marketing to guide a holistic marketing strategy and customer experience.

Mobile is mainstream now, and will continue to grow and dominate. Marketers now need to put mobile at the center of the omnichannel journey. Start consideration with mobile and evolve the design up to larger screens, utilizing responsive design techniques. Implement strategies that touch the consumer’s browsing and buying journey. This includes arming the floor sales force with mobile technology to check inventory, place orders or make a sale.

But design and technology will only get marketers so far – they need to ensure that they are developing a differentiated value proposition for their organization along the way. Leaders in the omnichannel area include American Eagle, Sears, lululemon, and Selfridges.