Getting More From Your CRM Data

Running a successful business, whether you’re a small business or a global enterprise, is all about knowing your customers. This has always been true. In fact, it’s this need that led to the development of customer relationship management (CRM) software platforms like those offered by Salesforce and Microsoft. And while CRMs are still an important part of a business’s technical infrastructure, the massive shift to digital over the last fifteen years has changed what it means to “know your customer.” As a result, the question for companies is no longer which CRM platform to get. It is how do companies push beyond CRM to create a technology stack that can help them understand and engage customers in a digital-first world.

Before the digital revolution, “know your customer” meant know them well enough to create segments with associated messages and offers to better target them based on broad needs. However, as digital technology has become more prevalent, businesses have to do more. With even more customer interactions — email, web, social, phone, in person — companies need to know not only who their customers are, but what they were doing and where they want to engage.

With the advent of CRM, businesses got a valuable technology to keep track of known customers and their interactions. And more importantly, they could respond in a more personalized way than had been possible before. The CRM platform kept a record of customer interactions for the most-used channels and could group customers with similar interactions into segments.

These capabilities are still important today, but they’re no longer enough. Today, the mandate to know your customer has become “know what they need right now.”

People are engaging with brands at a velocity that is orders of magnitude greater than in previous generations. Customers interact with a brand through dozens of channels — digital and physical — often at the same time. Sometimes they authenticate and identify themselves. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they’re having both of these kinds of interactions simultaneously. And more importantly, these customers expect brands to understand when, how and why those interactions happened.

In other words, understanding the holistic customer experience you are providing is important, but the experience a customer is having with your brand right now is crucial.

This is more than customer relationship management. It’s customer experience management (CXM). And it requires a different approach to customer data. Data must be streamed in real-time, not batch processed, and ready for action at the moment your customer takes the next step with your brand. Instead of simply using data to understand what existing customers have done historically, businesses need data to empower them to know what those interacting with their brand are doing right now, and why, so they can predict what they might do next. This means bringing artificial intelligence to work in identifying the signals from your streaming data and then using them to create the most impactful, relevant connection with your customer.

And those signals could come from a wide variety of sources. Let’s say a customer phones into a call center. The immediate purpose of their call — and their mood when they call — is one signal. The record of all that customer’s past interactions in Salesforce or another CRM is another. But you also need to know if, five minutes ago, that customer was on the website anonymously writing a good or bad review of your product. Or the fact that they’ve only used the product twice and both times, they had trouble with the same feature. The list goes on and on with thousands or millions or billions of customers, each with their own story, their own signals.

To give that customer — and every other customer — the best possible experience, your Customer Service team who is live on the phone, or your Marketer creating the next demand-gen offer needs to know all of this. Not hours, days or months later, when the data can finally be processed and stitched together from your CRM platform.

Start with the outcome — the optimal experience. Identify the necessary data signals to make that experience a reality. Then bring that data together in real time and connect it to your systems of action.

Organizations that can do this well have gone through a massive transformation, not only of their technology but of their processes and mindset. To them, it’s not about prioritizing digital technology as a means to create efficiency or hoard data. It’s about unlocking the power of digital technology to create the right customer experience for every interaction based on the context and relevance of real-time data.

That experience-focused mindset and the processes that come from it then inform the technology needs. For these businesses, systems like a CRM that gathers and stores various types of customer data is important but what is more important is the ability to quickly access and activate all the data you need to deliver the right customer expereinces.

We took up this exact challenge and have built Adobe Experience Platform from the ground up to solve this problem — putting the data from CRM platforms and other systems to work in every customer experience.

Of course, talking about the kind of transformation that makes effective customer experience management a reality is easy. It’s much harder to actually pull off. To help, we’ve developed the “CXM Playbook,” an interactive web experience that guides you step-by-step through the process of making a CXM plan that’s customized to your business, your needs, and your customers.

If you’re interested in seeing how you can get more from your CRM, we can help. Because your customers aren’t waiting.

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