Modern businesses face growing complexity in how they sell goods and services. We are seeing companies extend operations by for example, selling online, internationally and in increasingly innovative ways such as subscription-based and on-demand models.
Such changes have in some places left the customer behind, with companies slow to adopt solutions that can effectively track modern customer interactions across the various channels.
Technology is increasingly starting to take the lead on sales and customer management, forming an invaluable tool to help companies maintain positive customer relationships. Applications are doing the heavy lifting that previously would have been done manually, with each individual responsible for tracking and tracing all interactions, regardless of business size.
The arrival of cloud applications specifically designed to improve customer management means businesses are running out of excuses for why they are unable to deliver a superior level of customer service.
Evolving with the trends
Customer management strategies need to change to accommodate the growth of channels available to customers and the technology, which is emerging to manage these interactions. Some businesses have evolved already to incorporate these new strategies and are already reaping the benefits of increased sales and more responsive, effective customer service.
However, it is now clear that those sales strategies that do not adapt in line with these developments are likely to suffer from shrinking returns. Technology factors such as cloud, mobility and social media make the sales process more efficient, giving representatives the ability to manage customers more easily than ever before. But efficiency is only one piece of the puzzle: these new techniques also change the dynamics of how businesses can engage with customers.
Today’s trends are driving the evolution of the old-school sales approach to one that is more conversational and informed by a much greater knowledge of the customer. With mobile cloud apps, which can be updated and accessed on-the-go, wherever you are there is no longer any excuse for not knowing important background details on a customer before a meeting.
Putting social and mobile at the core
The growth of applications such as Facebook and Twitter has highlighted the way that we feel most comfortable engaging with brands and sharing information. As a result, all customer management strategies need to incorporate both social and mobile trends to keep pace with the behaviour of the modern customer. At the same time, internal departments need to be adept at using these channels to ensure they are engaging with customers in the method they prefer.
While the latest social and mobile trends need to be at the heart of the business, there are other considerations that businesses must pay heed to when reorganising their IT strategy around the modern customer. Your systems need to keep up with the latest technology in order to stay current with customers and maintain efficiencies in your cost base. This is best done by using applications in the cloud rather than attempting to build your own. This allows businesses to launch new customer management tools with no capital costs, at a scalable level with minimal risk to a business. In selecting a cloud application, you are not investing in developing your own solution and can, therefore, avoid all the financial and operational risk that would be involved in this process.
Moving to the cloud
For these reasons, the cloud is making businesses better aligned with customer needs. Businesses can launch new services to customers quicker, meaning that they are able to respond to trends and new revenue opportunities at a pace not seen before. At the same time, cloud is providing a far richer sales capability for the business and, ultimately, an improved quality of experience for the customer.
While the effects of cloud computing are apparent to customers there are additional advantages delivered to the business in the back office. For example, cloud computing is helping to cut down the time it takes from quote to cash, resulting in improved cash flow for business. This is achieved as sales leads that can be tracked centrally through the cloud based application, with access available to the various departments involved in completing a deal. This leads to a far more integrated sales pipeline, with efficiencies delivered that result in orders being tracked and billed far quicker.
A further benefit of the cloud is its ability to create integrated businesses. Cloud order management solutions for example help to link the operations and sales teams, giving insight into the whole customer journey and providing a single view of the customer. The cloud is invaluable in ensuring that data is being effectively shared between departments, which can otherwise become divided into silos and isolated from other areas of the business. In addition, tools such as Chatter, an internal social networking service hosted in the cloud, connect employees in new ways that encourage collaboration and promote productivity.
Building closer relationships through technology
Effective management of customer relationships is key to ensuring the overall success of a business. Whether big or small, old or new, building a relationship with customers that delivers on their expectations is a fundamental cornerstone of business. Businesses simply cannot afford to get it wrong. An essential part of this in today’s sales environment is utilising available technology to make this as easy as possible and allowing businesses to concentrate their time on revenue-generating activities. With modern CRM solutions in the cloud, sales teams can focus on selling to customers and innovating to improve the way the business works, rather than on burdensome day-to-day administration.