It’s a cliché, I know, but the last few weeks have reminded me that we’re living in an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing world
The internet has a lot to answer for in terms of being the catalyst for this change – politically, economically and socially. Just look at what’s happening in Libya at the moment. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have given those oppressed people a new platform to share information, mobilise and overturn dictators. If the internet has the power to change whole countries and threaten Gaddafi – one the world’s longest serving leaders – just think what it’s doing to your market – right under your nose.
Control is shifting and it’s making it more difficult to acquire, retain and develop customers profitably.
In this information age, the customer’s ability to analyse your offerings and those of your competitors – and to make a decision without speaking to you – results in a loss of control in the traditional sales cycle. Your customer can be an expert about your product very quickly, collecting impartial information on which to base their decision. Consider the information available to you online last time you were buying a car, for example.
The traditional customer – on whom much theory and business strategy is and has been based since World War II – is changing.
Traditional markets are giving way to networks of connected interest, where customers can form their own groups based on their interests and needs. This means that just grouping customers by age, size of company or location is becoming insufficient.
Access to information, services and goods is shifting to rental or right to use models, too. The trend suggests ownership will become a marginal activity e.g.
- Films on demand rather than physical DVDs
- Access to online reports/newsletters rather than paper copies
- Renting business software and hardware ‘in the cloud’
And where a market can’t articulate the value it provides, goods and services are quickly turning into commodities – leaving businesses to fight it out with cheap, global competition.
So, in practical terms, where does CRM software like Microsoft Dynamics CRM leave us? Well, like any software, it’s only as good as the strategy behind it. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) provides a framework for understanding who the customer was, is and will be in the future.
As the cost of acquiring customers increases, understanding why a customer is valuable to you and what they look like will be a critical factor in assessing the value of your business. Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help you plug your sales and marketing into the online, connected world – allowing your customers to interact with you on their terms.
All of your customers are not equal, therefore levels of service should be varied from customer to customer, depending on their value to your business – now and in the future. A CRM strategy and software can help you turn this vision into a practical reality.
Join us for the launch of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 in Wolverhampton on Thursday 24 March. Alternatively, you can get a synopsis via the live webinar on the afternoon of the same day.