Keith Fenner, strategic sales director, Softline Accpac, says that collaboration is the buzz word, worldwide, in driving a new approach to CRM as we know it.
The second wave of CRM, as he calls it, has firmly landed in Africa, seeing those who are already riding it looking for even more powerful solutions, while those who are still sitting on the sidelines realising that CRM is an essential business tool.
"The worldwide web is being re-invented and, as such, CRM is following suit, giving us CRM 2.0. This next wave is even more about the customer, but extends into the entire stakeholder space," Fenner says.
Collaborative CRM means various departments of an organisation, such as sales, customer care and marketing, share information they collect from interactions with customers with the aim of improving customer service.
The result of this sharing of information is increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
"The very concept of CRM 2.0 is driven to all areas of the organisation and, subsequently, brings the management of all interactions into one place," Fenner says. He adds that, if used effectively with the right technology, collaborative CRM will actually solve two business critical issues - improved customer service and, as a result, the lowering of day to day operations costs.
According to Fenner a true aspiration of CRM is to create content and applications that are available for customers and other stakeholders to not only help themselves, but also to help others.
"Africa is demanding more online capability," he says. "If our customers and suppliers wish to transact electronically and communicate with each other, let us deliver a platform to do just that. Typical examples may be frequently asked questions and sales enquiries."
Self service, in this next phase of CRM, is more dynamic, more rewarding and more content driven, Fenner says. "The interactions which take place every minute on blogs, web conferences, chat rooms and instant messaging are vital to a business to understand the customer. Couple this with a 360° view achieved through integrating all operational systems, and CRM 2.0 starts to come alive!"