Role Of CRM In The Digital Business

By Parveen Sharma, National Director - Information Technology, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & CoEstablished in 2015, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, is one of India's leading law firms. The Firm has over 520 lawyers, including over 100 Partners, offering legal services.
There is a famous saying by Michael LeBoeuf(a well-known business author)i.e."Every company's greatest assets are its customers, because without customers there is no company". The customers are without doubt the foundation of any business'success; and for businesses it's important to keep their customers not only satisfied, but engaged and loyal. Accordingly, the importance of effective Customer Relationship Management(i.e.CRM) has been well understood by all kind of businesses; and related technologies that particularly address the life cycle of managing the customers on a day-to-day basis are growing in popularity.

Role of Customer Relationship Management
Wikipedia states that CRM is an approach to manage a company's interaction with current and potential customers; by using data analysis about customers' history with a company to improve business relationships with customers. Traditionally the core focus of CRM was to effectively carry out point-in-time customer satisfaction campaigns and to assist marketing functions to identify and engage with market leads to drive sale. But given the advancement of technology innovations, the role of CRM has been transformed from an "application of certain technologies" to a "holistic Business philosophy" to provide their customers with a consistent and personalised experience whenever and wherever they need it. In the current age of Digital Transformation, customer relationship management strategy has to focus on both customer relationship management and customer experience(CX) management.

Why Customer Relationship Management is integral part of Digital Business?
The ongoing wave of Digital Transformation has introduced a fundamental shift to drive the change in business. These days most of the (if not all) changes are driven by customers as they expect suppliers to provide relevant responses in relation to what they intend to do anywhere, anytime and in the format & on the platform of their choice. To keep up with such demanding expectations, businesses have no choice but to go digital and embrace technologies to be always available and deliver best possible customer experience. With every passing day, more (and many more) businesses are adopting "Customer First" strategy as it's almost more than the unique selling propositions or brand strength, a business these days need to sell customer experience. Many researches have proved that in the
ever increasing "Digital Ecosystem", the competitive edge in the market for any business is not significantly based on the experience they deliver to their customers.(Gartner has predicted that by 2020, more than 40% of all data analytics projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience).

In the current age of Digital Transformation, customer relationship management strategy has to focus on both customer relationship management and customer experience (CX) management

How to approach "Digital" Customer Relationship Management?
Given the evolution of CRM to manage Customer Experience across all business interactions and advancement of technology, the CRM solutions are evolving at the rapid pace. Be it a full fledge enterprise suite or industry/domain specific COTS (Commercial off the shelf) product, there are variety of solutions available to cater generic and/or very specific requirements of every business. But given the availability of such a variety of solutions to choose from, it's not always easy to pick the right option? Considering that strategic focus around CRM, it's advisable to review the following questions before proceeding with the evolution of various technology platforms:

-Identify the goals and objectives that you want to achieve by introducing CRM in your business (e.g. central repository of all the customer contacts, profiling of clients for personalized / targeted engagement,single source of information for all the customer contacts)

-Scope of CRM i.e. which functions and users will work on new CRM platform; given the focus on end-to-end customer lifecycle management, the user base across Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Finance and IT should get together to work out the relevant scope

-What business processes would need re-look/ revision? Would this result into significant change in the business(The last thing you want to do is automate bad processes or deploy a technology that that is not aligned to the way you do business)?

-Who will drive the change across various functions and what shall be the organizational change management strategy

-Define the tangible business KPIs(e.g. % increase in customer retention, $$ revenue using up and/or cross selling etc.) that need to be measured and achieved and accordingly what's the planned budget for technology spend? It's critical to identify and communicate the business value for planned commercial spend on new technologies

-Once all the relevant stakeholders are aligned and have clear understanding of the expectations; identify the various technology options and shortlist few based on the criteria aligned to the answers of above mentioned questions. Based on the scope and coverage of CRM, it's also important to consider:

-Any specific integration needs with other related systems(e.g. business in take, ERP)

-Phase of rollout(big bang vs staggered roll out plan), related training and orientation requirements

-Data population and migration strategy

-Decision around mobility requirements Above all, Support for the project must come from the top levels of management to inculcate the importance and commitment toward new system(s).

The role of CRM has evolved from relationship management to customer experience management. Businesses expect CRM technologies to enable holistic perspective of all the prospects and customers, to build customer centric strategies. Before identifying the relevant technology solutions,The IT leaders should plan and review the CRM strategy, planning and implementation as a "business change"with all the stakeholders.