companies It’s no surprise that the business landscape is always changing – and with it, so is the world of technology, as trends keep developing in order to satisfy varying enterprise requirements. Software development in Sri Lanka has also long been on this bandwagon; as a prime IT outsourcing destination, need to adapt as often as required in order to deliver their clients’ constantly changing business objectives. Cloud support services have further fueled the trend of rapid disruption as well.
Thanks to resource virtualization over the cloud, the pressure to maintain physical resources and equipment is [almost] obsolete. As a result, turnaround times to deliver updated products and services have been cut by a fraction – therefore rendering high scalability unlike ever before. In turn, this has created an on-demand consumer culture where customers are constantly on the lookout for the perfect product/solution with little to no downtime. Your customers want the best – and they want it now. Even the slightest delay can cause abandonment, thereby raising the stakes for today’s businesses to stay fiercely competitive.
As one can safely deduce, all these events have a domino effect; when consumer demand increases, so does the momentum around the development of new technological advancements. In the midst of it all, customer service is an integral chain which binds all these variables together. However, just attending to regular inquiries over the phone isn’t going to cut it in today’s aggressively competitive business landscape. This is why customer service has evolved to be so much more, as the quality and punctuality pertaining to your customer service efforts shall determine whether new customers can be attracted – and existing ones can be retained.
In a world where customer abandonment happens in the blink of an eye and with the slightest of delays, ensuring that your business is available to address any quandaries your customers may have shall go a long way in determining overall revenue as well as retention. Customer Experience (CX) is what customer service has now evolved to, as it now focuses on gaining a 360-degree understanding of the prospect at hand – and attending to any needs they may have at every step of their purchasing journey.
The right CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software will help your team achieve timely issue resolutions, but it also possesses the capabilities to obtain all-round knowledge of customer habits and behaviours for recommending just the right products, at the right time. Although a plethora of SaaS-based CRM solutions are readily available for use at the click of a button, creating a bespoke CRM will offer your business more benefits in the long-term. While creating a custom CRM may seem to be more expensive than its off-the-shelf counterpart, it may actually end up being more feasible if done correctly. By conducting accurate business assessments of your requirements well beforehand, the path to developing a custom CRM will be as clarified as possible, with only essential functionalities included in your bespoke system.
Off-the-shelf CRM options, while incurring a nominal initial cost, can gradually accumulate surcharges by means of add-ons. With initial subscriptions offering only a handful of features, expanding the capabilities borne by an off-the-shelf CRM is only possible by purchasing individual features as add-ons during the subscription process. Inversely, initial subscriptions may also include features that are irrelevant for your business, thereby creating stark disparities in terms of what is useful, and what isn’t.
Before you embark on developing a custom CRM for your business, it is helpful to know which features/trends dominate the world of customer service and CX. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, it offers sufficient insight to encourage you and your team to think about which features might be useful for your own objectives.
Ultimately, your development team will give you the final feedback on which functionalities would be most relevant, according to your timelines and budget. If your business or your development agency have dedicated partnerships with cloud service providers (such as being a dedicated AWS partner, for example), then your custom CRM can be developed with proprietary components, all conveniently integrated from under one roof.
Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).
Just like how customer service has evolved to encompass CX, one-dimensional communication has also evolved to offer a communication system that is as unified as it is comprehensive. Nowadays, voice channels are integrated with a variety of other mediums, from live chat to social media messaging. CRM software has also made the most of UCaaS, by integrating a variety of communication platforms into a centralized console. This way, agents are able to access omnichannel communication platforms in one, without ever having to toggle between one application and another.
Chatbots are a common touchpoint for most consumer-facing businesses today. However, they can emulate the behaviour of a human agent by training it with data, thanks to AI and machine learning. With time, chatbots powered by conversational AI can ‘learn’ to understand each customer better based on previous interactions. This knowledge can then be used to make accurate product recommendations, and interact better by adding context to the mix.
Forming an essential component of software today, configuring your CRM to perform in specific ways depending on certain triggers is now possible through rule-based policies. In turn, this automates business processes for added convenience, so your customer service teams can focus on the tasks that need their strategic insight. From intelligently routing different customer inquiries to the right department, to automatic access rights management, the scope for automating workflows is limitless as it is scalable.
Sales and marketing automation.
As your CRM facilitates timely customer interactions, the accumulation of big data can be a precious repository of insights. Using these insights to leverage your sales and marketing pipelines can reveal results that are attuned to the specificities of your business. Whether it’s creating an email marketing campaign or undertaking lead management, using your CRM to also add momentum to sales and marketing automation processes in your company can be a holistic solution for overall business development.
Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC).
As your CRM amasses precious customer data, it needs to be protected in compliance with local and federal regulations. Integrating a GRC component with your CRM is a sensible thing to do, so your business is compliant with relevant regulatory bodies and can save on time, money and even possible lawsuits in the future.
Modern GRC suites go beyond simply offering compliance and risk management of business processes and the data housed within it. They also plan and execute comprehensive business continuity management processes in the event of a cyber breach, natural disaster or any other kind of loss. With customer data and omnichannel customer touchpoints forming integral parts of your business, preserving your CRM with a relevant GRC solution will offer long-term protection, in case the unexpected happens.
Valuable customer data also bears the risk of being stolen, corrupted or being held for ransom. Therefore, implementing relevant security components to safeguard your data is necessary to maintain the network perimeter of your CRM, and your overall network at large.
With multiple endpoints connecting to your CRM (especially smartphones which your staff may use to access your CRM over a mobile app while working remotely or on the go), embedding round-the-clock threat detection services to ensure no unauthorized access is being made is essential to ensure only relevant team members have access to your CRM.
Before your development team begins to build your CRM, give them the insights they need to create a plan. To do this, gather various members from your team in order to conduct a detailed business assessment. Those contributing can be across multiple hierarchies, and also include end users of your new system.
Start by asking questions around existing problems and bottlenecks, including but not limited to:
Collect all the feedback your team offers, and share it with your development team. At this point, your development team will also have doubts to clarify – over which another round or two of assessing can be conducted in order to ensure everyone is well aware of what needs to be addressed, and can therefore be mutually aligned towards the same goal.
Following the business assessment, it is now up to your development team to offer you relevant timelines for achieving each step in the software development process. Budgets are also an important consideration here, so allocations can be intelligently divided to build a CRM product that is not only in line with what you can afford, but also has all the features you need within that price frame.
Depending on how intricate the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) is, expecting to see completed parts of the final product should be determined between your business and your development team. Delays, if any, need to be promptly communicated by your development team, so expectations can be managed together with overall implementation and use.
Being able to experiment with a working product has long since been one of the hallmark features of an Agile software development process. Likewise, having your development team aim towards a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for experimentation is ideal, so that any glitches can be identified at an elementary stage, with future updates added based on relevance and necessity.
An MVP will also be an ideal starting point for users to get accustomed to a brand new CRM system – with their feedback also contributing towards expanding the MVP into a more robust final product.
At this point, your CRM is going to be an actively used product – but also an ongoing work in progress. Depending on changing needs, your CRM can be made to scale up or down. A reliable development team is what shall make this ongoing process possible, since dedicated team members will constantly be tasked with system and feature upgrades to ensure your CRM is always able to meet the needs of your business as well as your customers
As competition between businesses gets fiercer by the day, reliable customer service is what sets resilient companies apart from the rest of its counterparts, for the modern consumer. Today’s customer service quotient goes beyond simply maintaining customer databases and responding to inquiries over the phone; it’s a diverse realm all of its own, focusing on all-round CX for customers for every demographic.
As a result, the industry of software outsourcing in Sri Lanka has had numerous technology companies scrambling to adapt to constantly changing consumer trends, so their clients can focus on ramping up revenue, retention and eventual bottom line growth. With customer abandonment highly prevalent today, ensuring that every step of the buyer journey is as smooth as possible is something a powerful CRM can contribute towards, thereby making it a crucial component for any modern-day business.
With trends such as UCaaS and omnichannel platforms dominating the CX sphere, CRMs can seamlessly blend in with other inter-departmental software such as ERPs and sales/marketing automation. With customer data now closely regulated depending on where your business is located, complying with these regulations through the right GRC and security capabilities is another important factor to consider.
Although your development team will eventually decide on the nitty-gritties pertaining to your custom CRM software, your business can lead the way by providing a comprehensive business assessment that will ensure only the most necessary capabilities are included in the final product – and that too within budgets and timeframes which are convenient for your business.