Thought leadership

It is becoming clear that changing consumer demographics and behaviours are exposing the shortcomings of major CRM deployments much faster than expected.

As we move into 2015, it seems more and more that big CRM is dying on its feet. However all is not lost, if businesses take a new perspective on CRM and better understand today’s customer behaviours, then 2015 will most definitely prove to be profitable for all.  

CRM should not be viewed as a single application. It should be seen as a way of building a digital platform that joins up all of the customer servicing applications. This, includes sales, on-boarding new customers, applying Know Your Customer and Anti-Money laundering compliance as appropriate to a company’s industry, account maintenance, customer services, orders and requests.   

All of these application areas should be available for as much self-service as you can deliver, across as many channels as your customers use. Processes should be implemented that allow a customer to follow the best journey across an organisation to achieve the outcome they are looking for.

Whether this interaction is making a purchase, upgrading a product or service, returning something that is faulty or not required (subject to company policies that should guide the customer in a friendly manner), lodging a complaint or making a recommendation to the organisation.


CRM platform for joined up service

The idea of a CRM platform is to create a layer of consistency around these application areas, whilst keeping a centralised history of each customer’s interactions for both audit purposes, as well as behaviour analysis, which can be used to improve acceptance rates when offering new products and services. The CRM platform should also allow the company’s employees to see clearly where a customer is in a process, what they have done so far and what is left to do to achieve their desired outcome. This is necessary as it means that the customer can be given seamless assistance should anything go wrong.

The CRM platform should also have access to or be a part of the marketing function. This enables not only the marketeers but also the customer service staff to see what a customer is responding to if they are reacting to an outbound marketing campaign – be it eCopy, print copy, video or TV advertising. The capability of personalised marketing based on a customer’s profile and history should also be integrated with the CRM platform. This allows the campaign to use the appropriate, up-to-date information regarding the customer’s profile and activities which may be stored in many repositories, as well as ensuring the marketing messaging is also stored for future use.


For example, a bank can begin to gently market a mortgage product as their customer nears the end of an existing agreement. Towards the last six months of their current agreement, all web pages and outbound copy can include links to the banks most appropriate and attractive mortgage products to encourage the customer to stay with them at their renewal.

As we get closer to the end of life of their existing product, the messaging can become more overt and urgent, perhaps positioning messages with stronger wording in more visible areas of a web page, for example. Of course, if the customer chooses to renew their mortgage product with the bank, then the CRM and marketing systems need to know and stop this product marketing immediately. This approach can be used for any product or service that has either a fixed or variable ‘life expectancy.’

Big CRM not designed for today

The big CRM products were not designed for the all-encompassing CRM approach that we are suggesting above and most are so monolithic that it would take too much time and expense to make them into the agile CRM platform that is required to meet today’s customer demands. Even the smaller mid-tier CRM applications are not designed as a platform that can join-up and inter-operate all of the component systems that are required to achieve the above.

More importantly, neither big or small CRM systems are agile enough to fill the gaps that are inevitable when building a unified customer platform across an organisation that has a typical landscape made up of legacy, best of breed (when purchased!) applications that were not designed to be part of such a joined-up system.

Agile and unified

Implementing an agile, unified CRM platform allows the customer experience to be addressed quickly – digital, self-service, omni-channel – while utilising the functional capabilities of legacy applications that can have their functionality re-platformed into the CRM platform as time and money permit.

These new deployments and a better understanding of consumer behaviours can help ensure companies are employing effective CRM systems into 2015, which are useful for both employees and the customers interacting with these.

John Everhard is European CTO at Pegasystems

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