CRM. IoT. Two acronyms that are increasingly important parts of modern businesses. First, a family of software applications designed to help organisations manage their customer relationships, from initial queries and sales processes all the way through aftersales care and customer support. Second, a new ecosystem of smart connected devices, collecting previously untapped data from across organisations’ premises – or from their products in situ – and turning it into tangible business intelligence.
But how can CRM and the IoT work together? What is the relationship between them?
There’s no one answer to this question. Rather, there are myriad ways in which these technology tends can be integrated, across organisations of all sizes and sectors, in order to drive powerful business change. Let’s take a closer look at some specific examples.
The best product development functions are highly-informed as to the needs and motivations of their organisation’s customers, and how their existing products are performing in situ. After all, that intelligence is what encourages designers and developers to see flaws – or possibilities – in practice that they didn’t identify in the lab. Until recently, the product development function relied on direct feedback from customers to gather this intelligence, but the IoT can enable such information to be collected and transmitted automatically, from products that have already been deployed.
Similarly, this information can be used to gain a far deeper and more sophisticated picture of customer satisfaction – or otherwise – and ultimately to build a longer-term relationship based on actively responding to feedback. Product development and customer relationship management can become far more closely entwined, all thanks to the automatic data collection and analysis enabled by the IoT.
The transition of a prospect into a bona fide, paying customer is perhaps the most important function tracked and support by a CRM system, and the IoT is enabling myriad new innovations to support it. For a start, as outlined above, the IoT can enable smarter and more informed approaches to product development, therefore making successful sales processes more likely.
Leads can also be developed far more effectively when said leads are equipped with IoT-enabled devices. They can grant the sales team new intelligence on everything from where potential customers experience current process bottlenecks, to motion sensor and facial recognition insights when carrying out virtual meetings. All these insights can help build a more tailored and targeted sales strategy, and closer, longer-term customer relationships.
Just as sales teams can tailor their strategies in line with customer (and potential customer) behaviours, so too can marketing teams. Think about the marketing team for, say, a shopping centre gathering intelligence on how shoppers move around the premises, where they linger and where they move on quickly. Or the marketing team for an energy company gathering new insights on energy use across thousands of homes. As they say, knowledge is power, and the possibilities for marketing truly are enormous.
CRM systems do not stop being relevant once a sale is made. Rather, they transition into an equally vital function; managing the ongoing customer relationship and supporting that customer through their ongoing engagement with the company’s product or service. Whether your aftersales function needs to deliver highly technical support and training, or simply respond to the odd query and look for opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, the intelligence gained by IoT-enabled devices can be invaluable