The Evolution of CRM

Copper Blog

A satisfied customer is a repeat customer, or so it is said -- but how can you satisfy your customers if you don't know who they are? Customer Relationship Management is a system that helps businesses to better understand who their customers are and what they want. This system advocates interaction between businesses and customers to leverage important data that improves marketing and sales. However, the CRM system wasn't always this simple.

CRM of the Past Was Largely Guesswork

Since the beginning, business owners knew the value of their customers. If their customers were provided with the services and products they wanted -- and these items were up to their standards -- customers were happy. This happiness translated to repeat sales and a growing customer base. However, to know whether a customer was satisfied or not, business owners had to speak to them face-to-face. These business owners had no way of keeping track of their relationship with customers. This was an obvious downside to projecting sales pre-technology.

Digitized CRM Proved Beneficial

In the 80s, everything went digital. This new technology was dismissed by skeptics and welcomed by businesses that saw it as a tool to aid growth. Throughout the decades, CRM systems went through many phases of trial and error, until the digital revolution made it possible to boost customer engagement. These are the many phases that CRM systems went through before becoming what it is today.

CRM in the 80s was a One-Way Street

Once database marketing emerged in the 80s, businesses were able to market to their customers on a more personal level. They incorporated email communications into their outbound marketing strategies, but had no way to track customer responses. They also had no way of properly organizing the information they received. CRM in this decade was truly a one-way street.

Exchanging Information was the Key to CRM in the 90s

In the 90s, CRM was a bit more interactive. Instead of marketers simply sending information to their customers, they asked for the customers to interact with the information. They launched loyalty programs and extended special offers to those who were willing to sign up for services or refer friends. These changes were necessary in order to grow businesses and not simply keep them afloat. Businesses provided useful products, customers received rewards, advocate marketing emerged, and everyone was satisfied.

Data Mining Built a New Foundation for CRM after Y2K

The Y2K scare in the early millennium caused investors to close their wallets on technology. As a result, CRM systems crumbled. After a slow upturn in cloud technology, businesses were able to regain their footing. CRM systems became more sophisticated and analytics provided more in-depth details about consumers. This helped businesses improve their CRM, it also helped them market more effectively.

Present Day CRM - Keeping Up with the Connected Consumer

Today's consumers are more tech savvy and are no longer waiting to get home to check websites. They are using mobile technology to view and purchase products while in transit. According to the NY Times, last year consumers spent more than $25 billion shopping from their mobile devices. This new connected generation, caused businesses to rethink previous CRM models and develop something more interactive and streamlined. Today, social media networks and enterprise blogs help businesses develop more personal relationships with their customers. Marketers can now "predict" customer behavior based on analytics extracted from these platforms. This helps them to keep up with the fast-pace of the connected generation. Cloud-based CRM systems enable marketers to leverage, store and track all information about their leads and present customers. These systems make it possible for businesses to see what works and what doesn't, so they can quickly make changes to keep from loosing revenue. Thanks to the new CRM systems, marketers can continue growing the businesses they represent; sales teams can sell on a more personal level (distancing themselves from their telemarketing past); and customer service representatives can nurture present customers to become repeat customers. All of this of course, boosts sales and reduces expenditures, but more than anything it improves customer satisfaction, which is the key to continued growth.