CRM is one of the most hyped words in the software industry. Not only CRM as software genre is well known, CRM products (e.g. Salesforce.com, Dynamics CRM) are also familiar for most people in IT & business. However it is also true that for many people, word ‘CRM’ and what actually CRM can do remains bit confusing. And to be honest, before I started working in CRM (many many years back) I also used to think this is something which is related to managing interactions with ‘customers’ only – as ‘C’ refers to ‘Customer’ in CRM. However this is only partially true – CRM do much more than that!
So why only ‘C’ in the name? This actually made sense for the early generation CRMs where CRM served as the electronic version of the customer lists and a journal of leads and opportunities. Salesforce Automation (SFA) was the focus of initial versions of CRM which obviously revolves around tracking and managing customer interactions and relationship. However as CRM products grew, new features as well as whole new modules were added and became standard part of CRM.
Now all modern CRMs generally include at least three modules: Sales Automation, Marketing Automation and Service Automation. Generally CRMs are now integrated with website, customer, partners & vendor portals. Entire service management, SLAs, case route management, approvals, e-services automation, quotes, invoices, orders, campaign and event management etc. all happens in CRM. CRMs are also integrated with ERPs and other legacy system. Last but not the least, social media explosion has added an entire new dimension to the capabilities of CRM. All these advancements, features and new modules have rendered the original name of the software genre more like a misnomer now. While CRM deployments vary in organizations based on their business and customer segment, generally CRM are responsible for managing all front-office operations of the organization. So the new name of CRM should be something like Front office processes and interactions management system – or FOPIMS. See how boring it is, that’s why folks in industry stick with nice and simple CRM.
CRMs can help manage master data, integrate with multiple channels, and automate front office processes and operations for any external entity that your business deals with, including but not limited to, customers, partners, vendors, distributors, members, subscribers etc. The top two CRM products (Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics CRM) comes with reports, dashboards, process automations capabilities and native mobile apps to provide real time visibility into front office operations to improve organization’s top line and brand affinity.