CRM’s Pressing Platform Problems

A new Forrester survey commissioned by Capgemini, Salesforce, and MuleSoft reveals companies face the same recurring customer experience (CX) struggles. They lack an integrated single source of truth for customer data and are strapped with subpar personalization capabilities.

Forrester surveyed 426 directors and above in marketing, IT, and line-of-business (LOB) roles with responsibility for technology purchase decisions and direct ownership of technology project management in North America, EMEA, and APAC. The results suggest that firms with CRM or CX platforms for a single purpose or department miss out on improving the customer’s overall experience.

Firms with disparate customer systems are less likely to form a real-time, 360-degree view of the customer. To reap these subsequent benefits, firms should consider moving beyond the single implementation use case by adopting for multiple pillars.

Achieving a 360-degree view is not an easy task. Organizations are challenged today with competing or conflicting internal priorities and stakeholder disagreements, in addition to disparate data and systems, offered Jay Rumwell, vice president and group partner executive at Capgemini.

The research shows 40 percent have difficulty creating a single, integrated 360-degree view of the customer from CRM/CX technology data.

“These hurdles lead to a lack of real customer and/or market insights and fast changing customer dynamics,” he told CRM Buyer.

Key Findings From Global Study

In order to create a single, 360-degree view of the customer and draw out valuable insights, organizations must integrate their data technologies with their chosen CRM/CX technology, the 2021 Report on the State of CX concluded.

  • Eighty-four percent of companies see having a CRM platform with a 360-degree view of customers and their data provided as indispensable;
  • Fifty percent find it leads to improved service ticket resolutions;
  • Forty-five percent agree it helps align across internal departments;
  • Forty-four percent find a better view of the data leads to improved CX strategy; and
  • Eighty-five percent of companies have already used a services partner in their CRM/CX technology implementation, but this does not substitute for good IT involvement.

That high rate of companies already using service partners is encouraging. But this does not substitute for good IT involvement, added Rumwell.

Fixing the IT Divide

Organizations falling into the divide between CRM/CX partner services and good IT involvement need to bring IT into the mix early and often, noted Rumwell. Especially throughout the technology selection and adoption process, that solution is critical.

“Some 74 percent of companies still rely on IT for configuration and support. So the sooner they are involved, the faster they can help get systems up and running,” he said.

Organizations also need more strategies that incorporate individualization. They need to focus on customer journey mapping in order to deliver hyper-personalization for true one-to-one interactions.

“We expect to see more automation and artificial intelligence (AI ) in CX, which will help to deliver CRM/CX outcomes,” he added. “Self-service is going to be more popular — and focusing on customer outcomes.”

Overcoming Challenges

The Forrester report highlighted several significant challenges. The lack of agreement around who owns the digital strategy initiatives, ranked third, according to Rumwell.

“Thus, with no strategy, low adoption, and siloed platforms and systems, companies could use a lifeline to optimize their CRM/CX roadmap. But few are making the shift to work with new vendors or partners who can help with strategy as well as efficiency of CRM/CX initiatives,” he explained.

Traditionally, companies avoid implementation partners to save budget. However, partners yield better value and provide cost benefits.

In fact, respondents bringing onboard such partners quickly recognize their benefits. These include:

  • The ability to develop a strategic roadmap for the customer experience (50%)
  • Cost-effective deployment (47%)
  • Return on investment on the platform (45%)

The research identified the most challenging CX barrier that companies face today as improving the management of customer data. This involves the process of entering and linking data across the enterprise and building customer insights. The report cited 31 percent have difficulty entering data into their systems.

Hybrid vs. Integrated Platforms

Knowing the solution to a problem is only half the battle. That’s why many companies are stalled out in progressing their customer data management and CX strategies because they are not sure where to start, according to the report.

They know that next-level CX is available through integrated CX technologies. Yet they struggle with executive buy-in and align internal leadership teams to support the adoption of a more holistic platform and strategy.

The solution rests with companies supporting a move from their hybrid systems to more integrated platforms. That is how they can better understand their customer and provide a more optimized customer experience.

CRM is typically multivendor. Most still suffer from integration issues. While still fully engaged with hybrid environments, companies continue adding disparate solutions to their stacks.

Sixty-two percent of respondents indicated their organizations use hybrid environments. But 52 percent said they are only minimally, somewhat, or not at all integrated.

“Disparate systems often result in organizations not being able to deliver personalized omnichannel experiences,” said Rumwell.

No Quick Fix

Weathering the pandemic factors into the problem-solution formula, too. Blending remote and in-person work has slightly complicated CX operations, leaving some companies struggling to provide a consistent and holistic omnichannel experience for their customers.

The pandemic pushed millions of consumers online — and many have stayed there. Companies will need to improve their CRM/CX technology integration to capture the immense amount of customer data at their disposal, recommended Rumwell.

There is no quick fix, he cautioned. The right strategy requires proper integration across both internal and external CRM/CX technologies and a variety of internal and external data sources.

“This will mean turning to trusted CRM/CX technology vendors and services partners to help identify the best ready-made solutions and pre-built connectors to combine legacy technology with modern, cloud-based solutions to help lead the implementation process,” he said.

In addition to bringing new vendors and partners on board, IT will also have to be better aligned with CRMs across areas such as architecture, data, integration, and security to ensure the technology can support and enable the goals of the business. Also, CRMs will have to be better aligned with IT to ensure strategies are aligning with the organization’s broader technology architecture.

Ask What, Not Why

The solution for companies wrestling with how to fix their CRM and CX might be bogged down in asking the wrong question. The question is not “Why haven’t other solutions arrived?” Rather, it should be “What are you doing to strategically integrate CRM/CX solutions?”

Or better yet: “Who are your trusted CRM/CX vendors?” quipped Rumwell.

The solutions, tools, and platforms exist, but most companies are too overwhelmed and fail to combine their legacy technology, or even upgrade technology, with modern, cloud-based solutions. Oftentimes, they need a trusted CRM/CX vendor to both identify ready-made solutions and help propel the integration and upgrade internally.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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