This guest blog post is by CRM industry veteran and expert, Mike Muhney. He's the cofounder and cocreator of ACT!, and the CEO and cofounder of VIPorbit Software, which focuses on mobile relationship management solutions for users of smartphones and tablets.
American Express developed its advertising slogan, "Don't leave home without it," in the 1970s. What we won't leave home without has changed dramatically since then. For me, it's a very short list: my keys, my wallet, and, of course, my smartphone. And I doubt I'm alone.
This burgeoning landscape of mobile devices begs the question: Isn't it time to redefine customer relationship management to include mobile relationship management?
Why should it be limited to corporate use? For too long, CRM solutions have really only catered to the enterprise and small-to-midsize-business (SMB) world. One of the largest sectors of any economy, the individual consumer, which includes the sub-SMB realm, has been virtually overlooked. This untargeted and therefore untapped market opportunity stands to gain possibly more than any other from the best aspects that traditional CRM provides its users.
To reach these previously overlooked consumers, we must redefine CRM by focusing on the fundamental components of relationship management. At its core, CRM exists to effect higher sales and profits for its users. Even the recent surge of social media reinforces its primary goal of developing personal relationships from which to create more loyal customers. And just as our best relationships imply an element of closeness, both social and mobile solutions provide further means with which to maintain and expand that condition.
According to Forrester, 1.5 billion people are using smartphones and tablets. Many of them are self-employed individuals or employees of small organizations who, because of mobile devices, are able to work how they want, where they want. As independent users, their professional success depends even more heavily on their ability to develop and maintain business relationships. As smartphone and tablet users, they require mobile business solutions to manage those relationships.
While fewer than 20 million people currently use enterprise CRM/CM solutions, the remaining mobile device users who are unlikely to use existing CRM systems now have access to relationship management solutions. Given the power, ubiquity, and convenience of the smartphone, who couldn't use it for mobile relationship management? After all, most people in business are relationship-centric in one way or another.
People are becoming more and more dependent on their mobile devices. Over time, as the functionality and utility of these devices increase, their dependency on PCs and notebooks will decrease. Mobile should provide more flexibility, not less.
To many mobile device users, traditional relationship management options are too complex, pricey, and cumbersome. These mobile device users are looking for truly convenient, desktop-like, full-featured applications for their devices and will create greater demand for consumer-priced solutions, including CRM. And, at the risk of sounding heretical, there is actually a place for an individual to use both an established CRM system for corporate purposes, as well as one for outside-of-corporate reasons for those whose companies mandate CRM use but have no place to manage their other relationship knowledge.
To better meet the needs of the CRM veteran entrenched in an enterprise system and using mobile as an adjunct, personal, database manager, as well as the individual user new to the benefits of relationship management for business, CRM must be redefined. It must go beyond merely recognizing the existence of mobile users to fully capitalizing on the opportunities of the new mobile landscape.
As Mark Roberge, VP of sales for HubSpot, recently said to me, "If it doesn't run on my smartphone, then I won't use it." Now there's an interesting follow-up story...