Communication with customers is changing as rapidly as online environments are developing. Especially with mobility increasing so fast, companies are faced with having to adapt and expand their customer contact channels in the CRM environment.

Congenii Consulting Group is specialized in holistic guidance in the field of Customer Experience Management (CEM), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business Intelligence (BI). From numerous projects across different industries like telcos, finance, insurance and commerce, Congenii was able to identify the most significant CRM trends for 2012, which are clearly applicable to the APAC market as well.

CRM Trend 1: Multi Channel Marketing will evolve to become Cross Channel Marketing

Companies are more and more connecting their online and offline systems to be able to better initiate, direct, track and control marketing campaigns and to target their customers using all available channels. At the same time, customers have a lot of options for contacting the company and accessing a variety of information anytime, anywhere. Due to Increasing mobility, consumers don't have one preferred point of contact anymore, but tend to contact their service provider or merchant from a variety of devices in a variety of ways, e.g. social media, e-mail, phone call, live chat etc. Most companies are rapidly recognizing the advantages and the potential of cross channel marketing, and are creating networks to connect all the different communication and marketing and sales channels, with a focus on synchronizing these processes. This enables companies to analyze and extract important consistent data and information about their customers, campaigns and offers. CRM systems must be adapted to integrate all the new contact possibilities coming with mobility and social media, in order to take full advantage of cross channel marketing.

CRM Trend 2: Mobile Marketing

Mobility has become much more than a trend. A number of mobile devices are giving consumers and enterprises a whole new variety of possibilities for exchanging information. It is becoming crucial for companies to provide for this development and make efficient use of these channels. Cross channel marketing enables marketers to target their customers via their mobile devices, while integrating these processes into the CRM system. It is important to focus not only on creating appropriate interfaces to efficiently connect different communication channels, but also to adapt offers and services for the mobile consumer. Information has to be available on all devices to provide the best possible customer experience. This means, adapting technology and content accordingly to make information, communication and transaction fast and comfortable for the consumer.

CRM Trend 3: Real Time Decisioning

Almost all enterprises are already offering individual services or products specifically targeting customers. The fast pace of modern life, with increasing mobility, makes it necessary for companies to act and react even faster to each customers individual situation. CRM systems will have to go in the direction of real time decisioning, determining and presenting the appropriate offer at the moment of customer contact.

Very individualized offers can be provided to the customer at exactly the right moment by connecting the customers' mobile activities to the CRM system, e.g. using the full potential of cross selling and cross channel marketing by making use of location-based services and sending individual offers and incentives onto the mobile device in order to direct a consumer to a close by store. Real time decisioning is not only a mobile issue, it can be successfully used within the more traditional sales and marketing channels, making more and more individualized offers at the time of customer contact, based on the customer's individual buying and communication pattern.

CRM Trend 4: Ongoing growth Social Media and Social CRM

Most companies have recognized how social networks can affect success. It is not only important to place company and product information within social networks, but to use the information made available by these networks - not only managing the data retrieved, but also analyzing it efficiently.

Integrating social media data with CRM information remains a challenge. There are specific tools for social media analysis providing statistical analysis methods. Companies are trying to match the data of anonymous social media users with the data of existing customers in the CRM system using opt in marketing. Should this become possible, it would mean a whole new range of possibilities for making use of a CRM system.

CRM Trend 5: Software as a Service (SaaS)

Companies are faced by the great challenges of integrating social media, mobile marketing und cross channel marketing in order to remain competitive, forcing companies to constantly adapt and develop their technology and infrastructure. More and more companies prefer software as a service rather than installing great software packages throughout the enterprise. SaaS allows for faster implementation and simpler handling. Even large enterprises are becoming more and more open for SaaS and cloud solutions when choosing or adapting their CRM system.

By Anjum Siddiqi