5 CRM predictions for the next few years: Gartner

Customers can be tricky business at the best of times. Add in the power of blogs and social networks, and customer complaints can turn into a complete nightmare. It probably makes sense to spend when it comes to online Customer Relationship Management (CRM) right? Maybe, but you might not need to dole out as much as you think.

New research from renowned tech analysis firm Gartner suggests that businesses can save up to 50% on CRM by integrating communities into their customer support. That’s only for companies that get it right though. Gartner reckons the consequences for companies who get it wrong could be dire.

The research firm outlines five predictions for the CRM scene in the next couple of years.

1. By 2014, organisations integrating communities into customer support will realise cost reductions ranging from 10% to 50%
The cost savings are principally as a result of shifting calls from technical support agents to the community. Gartner reckons B2B software, consumer electronics and telecommunications service providers stand to save the most with this kind of approach. Other sectors such as health insurance, government and banking will be slower to get involved. The US and parts of Western Europe will lead the trend, with sharply reduced success over the next four years, as the concepts mature.

2. By 2014, customer fallout will drive down customer satisfaction in 70% of organisations that shift customer support to communities
Some companies are great at integrating communities into their CRM strategy. Some are horrible. Gartner reckons those companies that don’t succeed are the ones that believe that if they create community self-help sites, customers will come. Others mistakenly believe that peer-to-peer communities require no administration or moderation.

The onus is on companies plan for the administration and moderation required to maintain a customer support community. But they should also be ready for the community to fail.

3. By 2015, 50% of online customer self-service search activities will be via a virtual assistant for at least 1 500 large organisations
More than 1 500 organisations worldwide are in various stages of production with virtual assistants (VAs). VA’s can save money, increase customer loyalty and simply provide the entertainment of having a robotic presence on a website.

The number of organisations adding this capability is growing by 20% per year, especially in travel, consumer goods, telecommunications and banking. The trouble is that VA’s can be over automated and have a limited repertoire of responses.

4. By 2015, the marketing budget allocated to retaining customers and increasing loyalty will more than double
As organisations attempt to get social, marketing departments will spearhead social media-based initiatives on their behalf. In marketing’s continued effort to protect and evolve the organisation’s brand through social media, it will increasingly have to engage in two-way communication.

Gartner also reckons marketing and customer service departments will increasingly end up collaborating on companies social strategy.

5. Collaborative customer service processes, application migration to the cloud and support of mobile consumers will become dominant CRM themes through 2015
They way businesses talk to their customers has evolved over the past few years, from direct and phone-based to the corporate website and across a growing selection of mobile devices and social media.

To keep pace, the scope of functionality included in customer service and support (CSS) applications has expanded. Gartner analysts said it is time to build an iPad app competency.

Continuing merger and acquisition activity is challenging organisations to adapt to a changing supplier landscape. Some organisations have had difficulties managing and planning for an increasingly complex CSS arena. Gartner reckons these companies should make use of cloud and mobile technologies to make things easier for themselves.



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