Three CRM Insights to Prepare for the Future of Customer Experience | Blog

Despite the overall growth in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) industry, the CRM platform market remains static. To achieve the business value enterprises desire, changes need to be made. In this blog, we share our CRM insights and three recommendations for CRM platform evaluation.

With the rapid proliferation of channels, products, and customer personas, the industrialization of personalized experience delivery poses the biggest challenge for all enterprises across industries. CRM is integral to enabling this experience transformation.

According to Everest Group research, the overall CRM market has increased approximately 15% year-over-year, primarily driven by the growth of Salesforce and other SaaS applications of SAP, Microsoft, and Adobe.

But let’s not confuse the industry’s top-line growth with customer success. The Solow paradox or productivity slowdown is still here. The bottom line: today’s CRM platform market is oversold and underdelivered. In a frenzy to meet YOY linear growth targets and bigger deal sizes, almost 30% of the licenses sold go unutilized by enterprises.

Three key CRM insights to watch

As we enter Dreamforce’s 20th year, below are our recommendations on fundamental changes that are needed in the CRM industry.

1- Bridge the customer experience and customer success disconnect:  While most cloud CRM platforms are growing in high double digits, they are not achieving the same business value growth. Most customer success metrics are defined and managed by vendors and continue to have a singular focus on customer satisfaction. While an enterprise IT organization may be happy with completing implementations on time and within budget, our research suggests that almost 50% of enterprises are not satisfied with the business value realized from their platform investments.

Recommendation: CRM platform players need to evolve the definition of customer satisfaction (CSAT) and their customer success programs. These should be managed independently of the organization’s sales and marketing functions. Service providers must work closely with platform vendors and customers to proactively define and track IT-business metrics. Niche platform players such as Qualtrics stand to make a significant dent by putting experience and operational data side by side to wholistically define customer experience.

2 – Create data-driven and connected operations: Industry-specific cloud applications are a key investment area for most CRM vendors. However, our ongoing Salesforce industry cloud services PEAK Matrix assessment found CRM vendors are pushing these products rather than enterprises pulling for them. This is because these products need high customization and fail to make a dent in managing and integrating data for specific micro industries. Each micro-industry has a unique operating model that requires data architecture tailored to the context. These industry products need to get the data strategy right for each industry-specific operation and bring in the openness for ecosystem integration. Platform investments by Salesforce, Adobe, and others in the Customer Data Platform (CDP) space are a silver lining for the commerce industry. But these CDPs should eventually evolve into intelligent data hubs and provide a platform for enterprises to create dynamic and contextual applications.

Recommendation: Industry-specific cloud solutions need to be built by keeping data architecture and integration for the micro-industry at the core. Making such fundamental changes is difficult for platform giants, which creates opportunities for emerging platform vendors to compete and differentiate. Vendors such as Zoho have differentiated themselves in an almost monopolistic industry by taking a long-game strategy and changing products at the architectural level.

Service partners need to use their industry expertise and prioritize micro industries to closely innovate with both emerging and large platform vendors. Together, they need to build meaningful products for their customers rather than being caught up in the frenzy to fulfill license sale Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

3- Expand and further simplify platform native workflow automation and low-code capabilities: As many as 60% of new application development engagements consider low-code platforms, according to Everest Group’s recent market study. Present workflow-building tools and low-code capabilities that are native to CRM platforms are still immature. This is pushing enterprises to spend hefty dollars on workflow and low-code platforms and then invest additional money on customization to integrate them with their CRM platform.

Recommendation: Salesforce has been a pioneer in this space and continues to lead the market, which has resonated well with its customers. Other CRM vendors who lack capabilities and focus here may give Salesforce inroads into their existing accounts. Service partners need to educate the market about low-code and workflow automation’s potential to transform industry-specific customer experiences.

We will be attending Dreamforce this September to share our CRM insights and would welcome hearing your views on CRM platform evaluation. To schedule a meeting, please reach out to [email protected] and [email protected].

Attend our webinar, How are Leading Organizations Delivering Exceptional Customer Experience?, to learn more about customer experience today.

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