Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mobile CRM - It's Here Now

Today?s workforce is truly mobile. Most of us now work at the office, from home and on the road. ?On demand access? to critical customer information from anywhere is becoming a ?must have? facility.

Now customers demand CRM access using a remote desktop or laptop accessing data through the Internet or on a handheld device. Suppliers are expected to have all the information at their fingertips at the moment of interaction. The same insight into their business and affairs are expected in a one-to-one meeting is expected when they phone into a call centre.

Remote access is a genuinely useful tool that can help your company to reduce duplicate entry, administration time, travelling time and costs for remote workers. It will also enable you to improve your customer service, and improve the quality and usefulness of data input.

Staff want the technology. Surveys have shown that sales management and field representatives both felt strongly that providing PDA access to CRM systems would drive increase productivity of the sales force. Eighty-three percent of sales representatives felt that a PDA sales solution would make them more productive in the field and 90% said they would use their CRM system more if they had handheld mobile access. Sales management agreed: 82% believe PDA access for sales representatives would drive field usage of CRM and 91% believe mobile CRM software on PDAs will become an important sales tool for their organization.

Two factors have stopped many companies from adopting mobile technology to improve their business functions. Firstly, companies are just inexperienced when it comes to applying mobile technologies. Secondly, even though it is not true, companies percieve the cost associated with mobile solutions to be greater than the benefits gained because they can't immediately identify how to apply mobile data to improve competitive capability. A mobile data delivery solution must be cost effective and allow organisations to experiment with mobile technologies and to gain insight on how to gain a competitive edge from the technology.

It should have the following:

* Access to information from any remote location covered by a mobile network.

* Low start-up costs allowing development of mobile strategies through experiments.

* Simplified user interface making it easy to administer data.

* Quick search and find.

Success can be measured by:

* Improved cycle times in providing a customer with accurate information.

* Efficiency increases for buyers and sales people free them to focus on developing key account relationships

* Empowered sales people and buyers with information when they enter negotiations through remote access to data

* Allowing management to be up to date with information where ever they are engaging with suppliers, customers, partners or shareholders.

* Experiments with mobile strategies to define ways of improving current business processes and prepare for new wireless technologies that will reshape the business environment.

Thanks to broadband and 3G technology this is no longer just the preserve of large companies. Now SMEs can also use the web and PDAs to access their CRM systems remotely giving benefits such as:

* Accessing important account contact and history information
* Updating account information
* Cultivating stronger sales relationships
* Improving customer service
* Scheduling activities and appointments

Richard Hill is a Director of E-CRM Solutions, that specialises in CRM, direct and internet marketing [http://www.e-crm.co.uk] for SMEs. He is non-executive Chairman of Innovantage [http://www.innovantage.co.uk] a business intelligence company and a non-executive director of Innovecom [http://www.innovecom.com] a computer networking company.

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