CRM – Enabling customer centric innovation

By : |January 21, 2010 0

The tough economic environment in the past that continues to squeeze many industries has created both opportunities and challenges for organizations. Most companies today face a combination of fewer employees, reduced budgets, higher expenses, and scarcer resources – and a subsequent greater need for productivity which demands that businesses get smarter.

How can companies accomplish more while working with so much less? Smart companies recognize Innovation as a kick-start to growth. Organizations must innovate not only to improve efficiency and productivity, but also to differentiate their company and create a competitive advantage. In this context, it becomes important to recognize the advantages of a customer focused approach to innovation and how CRM (Customer Relationship Management) helps companies implement customer centric innovation and differentiate their offerings through a focus on customers.

A customer-centric approach to innovation

It is an approach that can refine and improve not just the customer experience but also the internal processes and tools used to serve customers. A customer-centric approach can also help an organization pinpoint which types of innovation will prove most compelling to their potential and existing customers, a customer-focused culture is essential to customer centric innovation.

A customer focused organization puts its customer’s needs and preferences first in business decision making but this does not mean that it cannot be a profit-driven business. It only means that the organization has recognized and institutionally internalized the idea that truly sustainable profit and growth is best achieved by satisfying customer needs better than competition. As the technology which supports an organization’s functions, a CRM solution can play an important role in helping an organization create and implement customer-centric innovations.

Innovating with CRM

CRM software is one of the most valuable technologies to effect business change and spur innovation. CRM directly impacts business results by increasing efficiency, improving focus and streamlining customer facing operations. Today’s customer centric organizations must be able to quickly respond to customer’s needs and CRM acts as an enabler, helping companies create innovative customer focused processes and efficiencies that will ultimately deliver a competitive edge.

Therefore, CRM can create internal innovation, automating processes; embedding consistency and efficiency throughout the enterprise, and thereby increasing overall productivity. There are two major inter-related focal points for innovation with CRM: Innovating the customer experience and innovating the user experience:-

Innovating the customer experience

One of the ripest opportunities for innovation lies in optimizing the customer experience. Organizations that concentrate on the customer experience offer special value to customers and deliver a hard-to-imitate advantage over competitors. Innovative companies realize that CRM can help add that ‘something more’ that attracts new customers and keeps older customers satisfied and loyal – perhaps a new method of delivery, a more personalized service, or more tailored product features.

The right CRM tools enable companies to expand their horizons and take advantage of the latest technologies to enhance the customer experience. Therefore, a flexible CRM system empowers organizations to rethink the customer experience and the way it is delivered and then put innovative new approaches into action, and it can thus become a driving force behind innovations.

Innovating the user experience

Innovating the customer experience using CRM may be the foremost strategy in customer-focused innovation, but an important complementary strategy involves working from within an organization to innovate the CRM end-user experience wherein the best CRM systems even put the power to innovate into the hands of each end user.

Of the many different approaches a company can take into innovation, a customer-centric approach offers particular promise, as it helps ensure that the innovative ideas an organization pursues will be meaningful and valuable to those a company must satisfy above all to succeed – its customers.

The best CRM platforms will even extend these capabilities beyond the sphere of CRM to become the enterprise-wide engine for innovation. With a focus on customers, a commitment to innovation, and the right supporting CRM tools, any business can become an innovator and highly differentiated market leader, limited only by its imagination.

(The author of this article is executive director CDC CRM Solutions. The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CIOL.)

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