CRM Mobile for Company Staff and Online Consumers
Prepare To Enter The Mobile Web
CRM software systems are advancing more by the tools they leverage than any change to core capabilities in marketing, sales force automation (SFA) or customer service. Some of the most significant advancements include changes in technology such as open source CRM systems, changes in software delivery such as software as a service (SaaS), changes in customer communication methdods such as social CRM, changes in reporting such as customer analytics, and now changes in access devices such as mobile.
More of what customer facing staff do online is now mobile, and done on smartphones, PDAs, ordinary cell phones, netbooks, iPads, laptop computers and other mobile devices.
So is your business leveraging mobile CRM for account managers meeting with customers, field sales staff giving presentations, field technicians providing warranty repairs, or traveling executives who are constantly in more than one place? Do you empower your customers to use their mobile devices to interact with your websites and your company? If not, you may be missing a business process opportunity for your staff and a business development opportunity for your company.
Getting your corporate website online was the first step. Now its time to evaluate whether its worthwhile for customers to find you on whatever kinds of mobile devices they choose to use.
Getting your customer relationship management (CRM) system into production was also step one. Now is the time to determine if permitting mobile access would empower staff or streamline business processes.
Welcome to the mobile Web and mobile CRM.
Bill Baker of Baker Communications Group in New Milford, Conn., is a PR professional. He told a story about a company he is working with, WorkLight, which helps businesses with mobility issues. The New York-based software company provides a platform that allows companies to build mobile, desktop and Web applications for financial services, banking, e-commerce and other enterprises for use on a wide variety of devices, from Apple's iPhone to Google Android to BlackBerry to Windows, Macintosh, Facebook and Google. Its value proposition is that a developer can write software once and then use it acrossdifferent devices without having to recode sites for each one.
Yet, while this is a great idea, it's not new, this 'write once and run everywhere' mobile platform has been around for some time. Other comparable vendors include Kony Solutions, Digby and mFoundry.
While the concept has been around for a while, not many businesses have embraced this strategy of making their Web content available to their diversified customer base. Increasing volumes of customers use their smartphones, netbooks and mobile devices to go online, search for their merchandise and make their purchases, but if business sites don't support those devices, customers will surely shop elsewhere and aother company will ring up the sales.
The vendor isn't the story here. This topic is the story. And it's potentially huge for your business. Smart businesses deliver content to where their customers are and on the devices they carry. And making it more complicated, consumers are making their purchase decisions from more online channels. Some are viewing your business Twitter feed, some are accessing your business blog, some are on your Facebook page.
"Do companies understand that it's no longer a desktop computer-centric world on the Internet?" Baker questioned. "Your customers, they are not going to come to you. You've got to go to them or at least be easily found by them. It's the fragmentation of Web consumers and it's just going to get worse."
Why is all of this important now? That's easy. In 1995, the big news was that business was moving to the Internet. That happened as predicted. Now in 2010, it's another disruptive shift in IT and business as customer communications and commerce are going more mobile.
Baker said he was at a mobile conference and the core message from many presenters was that the future is all about mobile everything. The primary take-away from the conference was "If you are not thinking about building your business on mobile applications within five years, you're going to be out of business."
"Think about it. We went from mainframes to servers to desktops to to laptops to netbooks to PDAs in only the last 15 years," Baker said. "Everyone wants everything to be as small and convenient as possible. A lot of companies get it." Is yours one of them?