Mobilizing CRM: routes to success.

Author:Burnett, Aaron

Over the past 15 years, the evolution of CRM has paralleled changing business philosophy--from the early days when what passed for CRM was really only a contact database that assisted the sales process, to the current, customer-centric environment in which highly complex and expensive CRM systems enable customer insights that result in the tremendous sophistication and responsiveness at the heart of virtually every world-class enterprise.

Most recently, this need to become ever closer to customers (and customer information) can be seen in many organizations' efforts to provide remote access to CRM applications for workers in the field, often using wireless networks.

The Case For Real-Time Remote Access

The business drivers for real-time, remote access to CRM are clear: making customer information available anywhere and anytime translates into dramatic increases in efficiency, responsiveness and, ultimately, customer loyalty. Consider the following:

Faster turnaround. Real-time order submission results in improved customer service and clear operational efficiencies. As soon as a customer agrees to a purchase, the field salesperson places the order, confirms adequate inventory and verifies order receipt at the warehouse. Orders placed at noon go immediately to the warehouse for overnight delivery the next day.

Instant access to customer intelligence. A sales representative retrieves customer information, including previous orders, equipment installed or when the last sales call was made. This is invaluable for discovering unmet needs, spurring sales and serving the customer more effectively.

More "face time" with more customers. Always-on access to CRM means less time spent by mobile workers on end-of-day data entry. This gives more time for the core mission, which is meeting with customers, serving them and closing sales.

More reliable service inventory. For field service applications, immediate transmission of a work order helps to track parts used during service calls. This prevents possible short-ages and verifies adequate stock on-hand for the next day's work. And when a part is not in field inventory, the crew can check the warehouse, reserve the part and reschedule the follow-up service visit. Ultimately, this improved inventory control reduces the number of unnecessary truck rolls.

More efficient crew scheduling. By knowing immediately when a service visit has been completed or is falling behind schedule, dispatchers can send crews to new service calls or alert customers to delayed...

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