Customer relationship management (CRM) refers to methodologies, software and Internet capabilities that allow companies to manage their relationships with current and potential customers. Companies often use CRM software applications to organize, automate and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support. These applications are available most often as on-premise or through software-as-a-service (SaaS) on the cloud. CRM solutions provide companies with the customer data they need so that they can provide services or products that their customers want, provide better customer service, cross-sell and up-sell more effectively, close deals, retain current customers and better understand who their customers are.
Most CRM applications include the following capabilities:
Sales force automation (SFA): This integrates and automates sales processes, including opportunity management, quote and order management, sales forecasting, order management, fulfillment, and incentive compensation management. Marketing automation: This software automates the entire marketing process, with capabilities that include campaign and email management, lead reporting and analytics, website search engine optimization and landing page and form creation.
Customer support and service: These capabilities include case and ticket management, customer portals, time tracking and knowledge management. Some CRM solutions also allow companies to better manage their channel relationships with functions such a secure partner portal and analytics.
Rise of cloud CRM
CRM applications can trace their roots back to contact management software in the 1980s, which evolved into sales force automation software in the 1990s. By 1995, the term “customer relationship management” came into use, and at the end of the decade, “e-CRM” vendors came onto the scene. From 2010 through to the present, cloud-based CRM and SaaS solutions began to conquer the market thanks to their lower cost, speed of integration and flexibility.
By the end of 2012, four out of every 10 CRM systems sold were SaaS-based, and the market experienced 12 percent growth in 2012, three times the average of all other enterprise software.
With the rise of social media, the term “social CRM” began to appear, referring to customer relationship management fostered by communication with customers through social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Driven by high levels of investment in digital marketing and customer experience initiatives, the worldwide CRM software market reached $20.4 billion in 2013, up nearly 14 percent from 2012.
More than 41 percent of total CRM software revenue in 2013 came from CRM cloud or SaaS solutions, as organizations sought easier-to-deploy alternatives to replace legacy systems and implement new applications.
In today’s digital, mobile and social world, the linear sales cycle of previous generations has given way to a customer lifecycle in which buyers hold the power. As a result, visibility into the entire customer lifecycle is becoming increasingly important. In addition to traditional CRM capabilities like sales force automation, customer support and marketing automation, companies are seeking CRM cloud solutions that can also deliver quotes, order management, commissions, sales forecasting and integrated e-commerce capabilities.
Support for mobile devices—iOS, Android and Windows Phones—is also becoming a must-have for CRM solutions. Business users today require real-time access to the information they need, whether it’s the latest metrics, calendar information, customer details and more. Real-time data and access anytime, anywhere is also a critical component.
Another trend is integration with leading social and productivity tools. Companies want CRM applications that will integrate with standard social solutions such as Yammer and Qontext, as well as with leading e-mail and productivity tools such as Microsoft Outlook and Google Apps.
NetSuite CRM+ software is the only cloud CRM solution that delivers a real-time 360-degree view of the customer. NetSuite CRM provides a seamless flow of information across the entire customer lifecycle from lead through to opportunity, sales order, fulfillment, renewal, upsell, cross-sell, and support.