Collaborative CRM or Total Customer Orientation

The vast majority of CRM systems have not yet helped companies achieve their main goal of genuine organizational focus on the customer. In many cases, this can be linked back to these systems being designed primarily with sales and marketing personnel in mind. After all, don't other people within the business also interact with customers?

CRM systems normally aim to automate routine tasks in the marketing and sales departments with operational based functionality - think campaign management, sales cycle and opportunity management and lead generation, among others. Analytical functionality and data mining within the systems then help companies sift through these processes and pull out the specific information they need to support decision making.

Besides these core operational and analytical components, many businesses now face an increasing demand for a third area of support from their CRM. It’s becoming increasingly accepted that success depends on the customer being placed right at the heart of a company’s processes. It’s becoming the key driver for creating genuine customer loyalty. For a CRM system to really support a company in achieving its goals, it needs to allow genuine collaboration across the business.

Traditional systems

It’s something you hear on a regular basis from software vendors. CRM is more than an information system. It’s the key tool for a management philosophy focused on customer orientation. They are attractive claims, but in the vast majority of cases the systems themselves fail in their quest to genuinely gear all company processes and personnel towards the customer. Beyond the sales and marketing teams, the relevance tends to fall away quickly.

Sadly this failure to achieve genuine collaboration leaves a lot of relevant people out in the cold. Professionals outside of sales and marketing also interact with customers on a regular basis. They, however, do not have access to a single common system that also serves their needs with regard to customer information. The idea of one source of truth that supports everyone is often far from the reality.

Furthermore, these traditional CRM systems are seldom integrated into the rest of the company’s software. This results in the continuation of information silos and poor transference of information between departments. Efficiency really only exists within vertical processes, each area of the business working with its own system. Horizontal agility becomes a concept that’s difficult to realize – a problem when you consider that these interdepartmental processes channel the company's value stream towards the customer. Get this flow working well, and a company can stand out in terms of productivity, efficiency, operational excellence and quality of customer service.

Operational, analytical and collaborative

Unlike traditional CRM systems which provide operative and analytical functionality to marketing and sales departments, collaborative CRM systems support vertical and horizontal management of company processes.

They are powered by strong electronic workflows integrated with document management functionality that enables information flow to all corners of the operation. Such collaborative CRM systems allow for strategic customer management, offering effective control over people and processes in a genuinely integrated work environment.

Marketing and sales, the sole beneficiaries of traditional CRM, are still empowered to manage the sales opportunity funnel effectively – from the point a lead is generated through to its conclusion. It’s the rest of the additional features that have the greatest impact though:

  • Company personnel avoid having to duplicate their tasks when introducing or retrieving customer data to or from different systems.
  • Whenever a customer need is detected by someone from outside marketing or sales, the information no longer needs to be forwarded by phone or email to the relevant account manager (with all the inefficiency and risk associated with these forms of communication). The system is the same for everyone, the structured digital workflows triggering automated tasks (in this case, a follow-up on a sales opportunity) at the people designated as responsible for each stage of the process.
  • Every instance of interaction between a customer and a member of company personnel (marketing, sales, administration, customer support, human resources, production, partners, etc.) can be recorded in the customer dossier.
  • The system can initiate electronic tasks or workflows with personnel throughout the whole company -not only to the marketing and sales departments. Depending on which process map the company chooses to work with, efficiencies can be realized in operations as diverse as financial administration, human resources, quality or purchasing. Each process is then intertwined with the customer as much as is possible, enabling everyone within the organization to contribute to more effective customer relationship management.

Achieving a complete focus on the customer and effective management of the related processes demands a single solution from which the whole business can work. The channeling of value towards the customer happens most easily in a truly cooperative environment, one where transversal and interdepartmental processes can also thrive in system based on one source of truth.

By integrating all business processes and all company personnel into a single cooperative platform, it becomes possible to truly place the customer at the very center of the operation. It’s can underpin a major drive to boost customer loyalty and improve service, tailoring contact to actual needs and avoiding a continuous stream of impersonal advertising messages from the marketing and sales departments.

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