To stay ahead of the game, companies need to adapt to trends and changes with great speed and agility. Data collection, aggregation and analysis is crucial.
This can be a real challenge however, if the right tools and processes are not in place. It can be difficult for companies in the sector to capture, manage and quickly resolve customer service and support requests. Valuable data can get lost. Insights might not get shared. As a result, both productivity and efficiency can suffer.
CRM [customer relationship management] software has been designed to store data in a central, accessible place – helping companies to reduce the amount of time it takes to win business, improve marketing efforts and create stronger, more data-driven relationships, closely connecting food and beverage companies with their customers.
This is the case even more if you take into account how much the functionality of CRM solutions has widened recently. In a hyper-connected world, CRM is acquiring new features, with two trends standing out in particular: CRM is going mobile, and CRM is turning social. Both these trends are likely to make CRM even more attractive to the food and beverage industry.
The mobile features that are being integrated by a growing number of CRM providers right now are allowing users to use their features on-the-go – on phones, tablets or other devices. The technology enables a more connected workforce – more readily available to customers, as well as available to sales management and sales support teams.
Mobile features provide users with access to real-time data and content. When, in the past, sales representatives often had to get back to customers or prospects about questions they were asked, today, a few clicks can be sufficient to access pricing information or product availability. Additionally, embedded within mobile CRM, real time analytics can be used to improve user acquisition strategies. Campaigns become much more targeted, messages can be fine-tuned. Push and in-app notifications are possible. Dashboards present the right information – in the most useful way.
Mobile CRM can also help to deliver real time content. Users no longer need to rely on static, old-fashioned slideshows, which can easily go out of date and are difficult to update. Today’s mobile CRM technology allows for up-to-date customer purchase history or marketing collateral to get pulled up on phones and tablets instead. Based strictly on information that’s relevant to the customer that a user is engaging with, mobile CRM presentations allow for a more intimate and personalized way of communicating.
Modern mobile features can also register actions taken during a meeting – providing valuable data for follow-ups, or an analysis of what has worked and what hasn’t worked. If location tracking is enabled, real efficiencies for the user can be gained by mapping optimal routes to customer and prospect locations.
Recent years have seen a blurring of the lines between personal and professional personas, and social networks have accelerated this trend. The deep integration of CRM with social media is opening new possibilities to determine important relationships, find new contacts and identify buying signals.
Social CRM can connect seamlessly into social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, where it’s easier than ever to gather hints on customer wishes and desires. With a modern CRM, such data can feed directly into your customer and contact profiles and create a richer overall profile with data regarding preferences, interests, behavior and affiliations. These enhanced profiles enable deeper levels of user segmentation that opens ways for much more personalized interactions.
One of the newest, most exciting prospects of social CRM features is demographic profiling and prediction. Similar to consumer websites that showcase “Customers who have bought this, have also looked at” features on the web, profiling and prediction functions open up new possibilities for CRM users by prioritizing leads and opportunities based on successes from similar customers. Social CRM tools provide a deeper customer profile and enable more effective predictions.
The combination of mobile and social features will provide users with a CRM that is not just a tool or software program, but work much more like a mentor or coach. In the past, the user-friendliness of CRM has been perceived as inferior when compared to the technologies of everyday consumer life, such as apps on smart phones. With mobile and social features coming into their own, this perception is changing rapidly. As they become more and more intuitive, CRM will become more adopted and integrated in unforeseen ways.
More intuitive and user-friendly solutions eliminate the need for lengthy training cycles to learn how to use a system. Extensive manuals or training course are increasingly becoming obsolete. This also means that employees who are not yet using a CRM system will be much more inclined to try.
When, in the past, technology could be seen as difficult-to-use specialist tools for a selected elite, they now have the potential to become company-wide platforms for more efficient interactions between customers and the company, between off-site staff and those who are based in the office, and between departments.
As a result, companies will be able to make much more proactive and impactful business decisions. By utilizing the data collected by modern CRM, they are likely to become much faster and more flexible when they are adapting to changing customer needs and behaviors. This will help them to place themselves in the best possible position to face the challenges of the food and beverage industry – and continue to thrive.
Matt Keenan is senior VP, CRM, Aptean.