Studies find room for streamlining customer relationship management

Customer Service
CRM tools fall short of meeting workers' needs for outreach. (Michael Jung/iStock)

Gone are the days of the one-to-one enterprise sale, a new survey found. Now, sales happen at the departmental level with several decision-makers’ help, creating what ProsperWorks is dubbing the “Relationship Era.”

“Business deals used to be a one-act play between two primary actors,” according to a study the customer relationship management (CRM) firm and Dimensional Research released today called “The State of Customer Management in the Relationship Era.” “Today’s business deals are movie franchises with prequels and sequels and huge ensemble casts involved in the show. Business relationships in 2018 are more complex than ever and companies are struggling to manage them.”

The survey asked more than 1,000 businesses and information technology leaders how they manage customer relationships and found that 63% of them said at least three team members are involved in the task today. But the IT isn’t keeping up. Most CRM tools were built to work on a software-as-a-service model, but 77% of respondents said they still use spreadsheets to track customer data, suggesting that CRMs aren’t addressing their needs, the survey said.

What’s more, respondents cited data entry and keeping data up-to-date as the biggest problems they face with CRM systems. About 80% of them still perform those jobs manually, and those who use CRMs aren’t using them efficiently, the survey added. Fifty-seven percent said they use them all day every day.

Another study released this week—“Investigating the Customer Support Persona” by Squelch, a customer experience software provider—found that 97% of the 300 customer support agents surveyed said they need a better support system to provide superior customer experiences. Half of them said they have to sort through irrelevant information, and 70% said they make their own cheat sheets in favor of using corporate systems.

Improved search abilities would be a big help, the study found. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they want to be able to search across all the information available to them in one place, and almost half said they want to save search histories.

“Corporations have made significant investments in CRM applications, knowledgebase systems, ticket tracking platforms and more. However, an unintended consequence has been data proliferation into silos,” said Squelch CEO Jayaram Bhat in a press release. “While customer support agents are a company’s heroes because of their passion for helping people, they are currently challenged with pulling together disparate pieces of information in a timely manner that can ultimately enhance the experience of each person interacting with their company. However, if you complement the customer support professional’s motivation with the right tools, you can create a powerful combination capable of forming long, profitable customer relationships.”