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January 21, 2011

The New CRM -- Not Yesterday's Skill Set

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor


During the 90’s and the 2000’s, officials of Gerson Lehrman Group say, CRM systems were narrowly defined as systems that provided basic customer information: "But that definition has changed over the last one to two years and now the definition of a CRM system has greatly expanded." 

Gerson Lehrman gives some characteristics of what they see as the new CRM:

Basic CRM. This includes features supporting sales force automation and customer service. All information around cases, contacts, opportunities and the such is provided, as is a connection to the back-end ERP system.

Knowledge management. The ability to capture, store, and intelligently search for information via the web. This includes the ability to index information within documents. The goal of a good knowledge management system is to create end user self-service so answers can be found without having to speak to a person.

Intelligent call routing. The ability to route all kinds of customer questions to the proper agent is critical in the new CRM. There are now many more channels of access such as email, voice, chat, wikis and forums.

Mobile support. All of the CRM products can support the top mobile platforms interacting with them. The ability to solve a customer’s situation, even when they are mobile, is critical to building a positive brand for your company.

Social networking forums. The ability to host user forums and let the community solve many of the problems is part of the new CRM. Two critical pieces of these forums are that companies must capture any solutions provided by the community, and make them part of the knowledgebase.

Connection to channel partners. Partner reseller management is now a critical part of CRM. Managing your resellers, including the delivery of education and marketing materials is critical to keeping mindshare in your channel.

Connection to end customers. The ability to create and manage Facebook (News - Alert) forums and other end user systems (such as loyalty systems).


David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Juliana Kenny




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