Driving Digital Transformation with CRM

Discover how CRM works with ERP and the rest of your business apps to enable digital transformation and reliably generate profits.

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    When it comes to digital transformation platforms, it’s ERPs like Dynamics 365 that tend to get the most attention.

    Which, honestly, makes sense.

    After all, DX simply can’t happen without the ERP, which serves as this powerful, digital backbone –there to support the entire digital ecosystem by offering the unification and orchestration capabilities that transformations are built on.

    Meanwhile, the CRM is often cast as a supporting player, dependent on the core ERP.
    While it’s true that the CRM relies on its link to the ERP, it doesn’t make sense to make value judgements based on hierarchy,

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    The ERP’s inherent value doesn’t diminish the CRM’s powerful role in driving digital transformations. It’s the CRM that manages and operationalizes all that critical data you need to run a successful, customer-centric operation.

    Each platform plays a different, yet equally important, role in driving digital transformation – and ultimately, you need both platforms to drive the quick, data-driven decisions that deliver predictable wins and serious profit margins.

    In this article, we’ll explain how it works with the ERP and the rest of your business apps to power up the human experience and reliably generate profits.

    How Does the CRM Support Digital Transformation?

    To better understand how customer relationship management (CRM) software drives digital transformation, it’s worth zooming out for a moment to consider its relationship to the rest of the stack.

    The ERP’s main concern is the bottom line. So — things like finance, accounting, and inventory.

    The CRM, on the other hand, organizes and manages all customer data, relationships, and external interactions from one centralized interface.

    It connects those cold, hard ERP numbers to real people – and the needs, behaviors, and external forces driving decisions that make or break a business – fueling the customer-centric strategies that generate real value for your customers.

    These platforms are often discussed in a sales context – and best known for performing tasks like lead scoring, automated scheduling, deal management, and more recently, serving up context-specific training and guidance.

    While that’s definitely still the case, today’s CRMs do way more than help sales reps stay organized.

    Most come fully-loaded with advanced AI, analytics, and automation capabilities that help business users get more from their data and integrate with everything – collaboration tools, external data sources, even BI or market research services.

    That said, tapping into the CRM’s “transformational” business benefits hinges on the unity and “hyper-integration” offered by the ERP. The tight integration bit is super important, as modern CX relies on data in motion. So – dynamic, real-time insights that drive instant action, versus the static reports and fragmented solutions that defined the Web 2.0 era.

    For that to happen, the CRM needs to connect seamlessly to all data sources, apps, people, and processes across the entire organization, and serve up a constant stream of real-time insights.

    With all that in mind, here’s a look at some of the high-level benefits the CRM has to offer.

    Tear Down Data Silos

    If data fuels digital transformation, data silos shut down DX initiatives before they even get started. Data, in isolation, is bad news for customers on multiple fronts.

    When employees can’t connect customer stories to the same common thread, it creates an inconsistent experience.

    Sales understands customers in one context, customer service in another. Meanwhile, marketers and field service techs often operate on second- or third-hand information and, as a result, are forced to lean on assumptions to do their jobs.

    Customers might end up repeating the same information to different people over and over. They might receive conflicting messaging about pricing or policy agreements. Or — they might have trouble resolving issues resulting in downtime that threatens their business.

    Data silos are also a problem for backend operations and strategic decisions about inventory, budgeting, product development, DX investments, and more. Here, high-impact decisions are based on a collection of isolated snapshots of the customer, and, in many cases, inaccurate or outdated data.

    The CRM keeps departments connected — it plays a central role in creating a silo-free environment by ensuring that everyone is working from a single source of truth. Different business units can easily share information — and use it in the flow of daily work.

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    Understand Customers in Context

    Gartner predicts that overall tech spending will rise by 7.6% before the end of 2022, as companies rush to improve the customer experience before competitors beat them to the punch. And – according to IBM, the ability to create personalized experiences that deliver value and deepen relationships is a critical competency for driving DX.

    This is old news for long-time “customer obsessives” like Amazon, but many orgs have only recently come around to the idea that prioritizing the customer is one of the best things you can do for the bottom line.

    (We assume this shift has a lot to do with the fact that quantifying the value of “sentiment,” “engagement,” or “satisfaction” was really hard to do until relatively recently.)

    Predictive analytics tools can help you understand what makes clients tick so you can present information in a way that resonates and create custom solutions to critical business challenges.
    But – you need to understand exactly how your findings impact your clients, their projects, and their long-term business outcomes.

    But – personalizing client engagement depends on understanding industry trends and high-level insights, as well as how different solutions, content, and messaging resonate with different people at different stages and on different platforms.

    Consider the complex and conflicting feelings people have about chatbots. Customers say they want more human-to-human contact but they also want brands to provide better and more comprehensive self-service options – they expect different kinds of support for different situations.

    The point is, if you can master hyper-personalization without being intrusive — you can position yourself as a trusted partner that understands end-user problems and genuinely wants to solve them.

    Orchestrate Seamless Journeys

    By now, most business leaders understand that they need to optimize the end-to-end customer experience rather than improving individual touchpoints on an ad-hoc basis.

    This CIO piece brings up something interesting: the idea that companies should own the interactions customers have with their brand is on the wane – using the example of the car buying journey to explain this shift.

    Historically, buying a car meant interacting with the dealer to learn more about features, price, and upgrades, taking a test drive, then banking in the middle of the transaction – with your bank, not the dealership before completing the purchase.

    But — because the bank “owned” the financing process, you were forced to start a new interaction with a completely different company. On the dealer side, that disruption left a gaping hole in the customer journey – as financial data was owned by the bank and housed in an external system.

    These days, dealers might aim to bring more of that journey in-house. Think – using APIs to build branded apps that enable customers to secure auto financing or make a down payment from home.

    You might use AI-driven recommendations to help your sales team engage more customers on more channels — and reliably deliver the desired results (aka faster wins and more revenue).

    Make Informed, Profitable Decisions

    Establishing a 360-degree view of the customer is incredibly valuable. It allows you to measure the impact individual touchpoints have on satisfaction, loyalty, and profitability.

    But – it’s that ability to correlate “intangibles” like sentiment, engagement, and online behaviors with the needs and pain points of real people AND the bottom line is what really changes the game.

    When employees can make data-driven decisions on-the-fly — and with confidence, they’re actively driving profitability and sustainable growth.

    For example, Activision uses its CRM apps to listen in on social media conversations related to its products and use feedback to improve customer outcomes. The marketing app handles social listening, while the customer service platform is used to follow up on those conversations. By implementing this approach, the gaming company has been able to cut customer service operating expenses by 25% while at the same time, boosting satisfaction scores.

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    Final Thoughts

    Again, it’s that deep connection to the ERP that allows you to use your CRM data to engage, nurture, and sustain external (human) relationships at speed and scale, build custom journeys and tailored interactions, and seamlessly share information and collaborate on key documents.

    Velosio’s D365 CRM experts can help you tear down silos, connect disparate data sets and establish the kind of cohesive, data-rich environment that drives and sustains digital transformation. Contact us today to learn more.

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