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How Digital Transformation can be driven by CRM

By Laurence Leong, Senior Director, Strategic Alliances, SugarCRM


Laurence Leong, Senior Director, Strategic Alliances, SugarCRM

SugarCRM enables businesses to improve customer relationships with innovative, flexible and affordable CRM solutions. Sugar is used by more than 1.5 million individuals in over 120 countries.

Digital transformation is a popular buzz phrase. But, what does it mean and how does it fit into your business?

There are many definitions floating around the Internet. This one from the analyst firm the Altimeter Group is good: “the realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.” But I would extend it by saying it’s about engaging all customers - through both digital and human touchpoints.

Many organizations today are undertaking broad initiatives to transform how they engage with their customers. Whether this is classified as a digital transformation, a customer engagement transformation, a business transformation, or something else; a common theme is holistically incorporating capabilities such as social, mobile, data analytics, marketing automation and CRM into a complete solution for customer engagement, along the entire customer journey. 

The Role of CRM in Digital Transformation

Digital transformation spans more than just CRM. But, CRM should be a key component of digital transformation for the following reasons:

  • The CRM is a central hub for information about customers - a critical data source for human and digital touch points during customer engagement
  • Almost all organizations still need human touch points - such as sales reps, customer success managers or customer service agents.  Even as organizations increasingly adopt intelligent digital capabilities, like marketing automation and social media monitoring and outreach, at the point in the customer journey where that customer interacts with a human, it’s important that the human can navigate the CRM system to better connect with the customer. In this scenario it is critically important that the CRM system can tie into, be informed, and be informed by, the other digital systems and channels.

 CRM Requirements in the Digital Transformation Era

To make CRM a centerpiece of your digital transformation, it must easily integrate into other customer engagement tools. This ensures the CRM user is presented with all the relevant information they need to know about a customer, even if that information resides outside of the CRM- and much of it will. For example, can a call centre rep see previous digital marketing interactions, social media comments, and even in-store or in branch activity, quickly and easily inside the CRM?

From the CRM, can they then initiate other processes like a return process, check on the status of an order in the order management system, or even add the contact to an existing marketing automation program? Can a sales rep be fully informed about all the prospect’s previous digital interactions? Are analytics quickly and easily measured in the CRM to provide “next best actions” or upsell recommendations, easily and quickly to the sales or contact centre rep?

Three Key Traits of a Successful CRM Powered Digital Transformation

1.  Innovation Empowering the Individual

Tools used in digital transformation must be innovative. Modern CRMs designed with the individual in mind, offer the most innovative and intuitive user experience. If your CRM has a modern and immersive interface, every customer-facing employee can effectively engage with customers thanks to a consistent experience - regardless of your access point or device. Embedded collaboration tools are another key innovation, allowing the breakdown of departmental silos and an increase in engagement and service levels. And most importantly, ensuring your CRM provides contextual intelligence from internal and external data sources—ideally from within a single dashboard— will allow businesses to drive more actionable insights for every user.

2.  A Customizable CRM Platform

A highly customizable platform, based on open technologies and using readily available skills, (PHP, JavaScript) offers full source code access with a full range of upgrade-safe integration points. In most cases, system integrators and customers who build customizations own the intellectual property. Therefore they are free to leverage their investment and harvest their customization as a re-marketable asset, adding value for their customers and differentiating them.

3.  Greatest Business Value

CRM systems are a key component of any business transformation, but having predictable pricing with no hidden fees or forced upgrades makes the business case for deploying the system far easier to sell to decision makers. Some CRMs charge more for additional API calls, and hence digital transformation initiatives with multiple CRM integration points end up incurring high CRM costs. If your business is in need of a digital transformation, ensure you research all CRM options before taking your journey.

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