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What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

What a term! It is banded about our industry like candy at a childrens party.  But what is it? In my experience most business owners treat the term with some skepticism because it relates to a strategy as much as a tangible application.  What a small business owner needs is a simple and effective way of managing contacts and keeping on top of simple tasks. Let's have another look at CRM, let's demistify it, learn more about what it is and how it relates to your business today.
I could argue that Customer relationship management (CRM) is simply a strategy that a business will use to manage their transactions, interactions and overall approach with any person capable of being affected by the business. Those people can be current customers, prospective customers, suppliers, contractors for example, and from there they can be further segmented or broken down by their 'relevance' to the business.  A 'loyal' customer for example, or an 'effective' competitor or even a 'constant complainer'. Your business will have strategies and 'policies' to deal with each type of contact your business interacts with. I did some work recently with a major European Bank, and they had actually created a matrix of over 250 'segments' of 'contacts' across their customer relationship management and marketing strategy.  There's a hint there too isn't there?  Customers are related to 'sales' and 'Marketing' is directly related to how you offer your products and services to your 'market' to try and create more 'customers' or to sell more to your existing customers (up-selling). So, you can manage the contacts (people) that affect your business with a formal business strategy, let's use the term 'Customer Experience Management' to cover that area.  Then you can also use tools like applications in software to support you in delivering that strategy.  With those tools you should be able to classify, segment and group your 'contacts' in ways that mean they can be used by your business effectively. Customer Relationship Management therefore covers both aspects of the  'business strategy' and its existence in your business as a tangible asset, namely a physical CRM system in some form that helps the business deliver on a customer focused strategy. Your business can then go on with the tools and its strategy to define an approach to managing a company's interactions with current and potential customers. In its most basic form a CRM database is just a list of contacts with key values added to them, like their type or their classification.  CRM software can be a great tool to manage lists of contacts but it can deliver so much more value to your business through maintaining a complete history of each customer and how that customer relates to your business. Then your business can use data and analytics (fancy words for reports and dashboards) to make better decisions.  Ultimately CRM is used as a tool by business to reduce costs and to drive sales growth. By setting up the CRM so it fully supports the terminology, processes and structure of your business then it can truly support both of these options with little required other than 'using it regularly and correctly' to achieve the potential business benefits.
Imagine this scenario; perhaps you have even experienced something similar to this yourself? Let's say you have a relationship with a company and you've been paying your bill reliably by direct-debit for many years.  From your frame of reference you are a 'loyal' customer. Now, how do you feel if you have to engage with that business in some form and the person you are talking to obviously has no idea who you are, what products or services you have been reliably buying for many years?  Let's turn the table on the example.  Let's say you owe a company many hundreds of Pounds (£) because through no fault of your own your life circumstances change and you found yourself unable to pay.  How do you feel when one minute you are receiving legal threatening letters and phone calls from that company only to find another letter in the mailbox, this time offering you an upgrade?  Why is their marketing team sending you offers to upgrade whilst their collections and accounts team are threatening you because you are late with the payments?
These are not wild examples are they? Most of us experience these scenarios at some point.  Dealing with 'organisations' that don't know you is frustrating.  Dealing with an 'organisation' that doesn't know itself is just as bad.  Customer Relationship Management can help.  But only if it is used effectively across the business.  How could it have helped in the first scenario?  As a loyal customer you approach the business either in person or on the phone. The first thing the employee should do is check who you are and get a picture quickly of your 'segment' or value to their business.  Their opening statements should include "Yes, I can see that you have been with us for years and we truly thank you for that loyalty, how may I help you?".  In the second example the Marketing Department should have liaised with the Billing/Accounts Team so they are not sending outbound marketing campaigns to a customer in difficulties.  That could easily have been remedied by flagging the debtor correctly in the database!  Which database?  Well, the CRM database of course!
It is important that your CRM strategy be deployed in such a way that all relevant data from all departments and the communications channels in your business are unified.  This means walk-ins, eMails, phone calls, letters, faxes and even social media 'events' are recorded (where relevant) against the customer record in the CRM system all the time.  It won't work if marketing campaigns aren't included, or if the billng team can't see the history of the customer, or if the sales team can't see that the customer is months behind on their payments before trying to make that outbound sales call.  It seems simple; yet it is.  Is is childsplay to get this right, but if a business is not committed top-down to CRM as both a strategy and a tool then its value to the business decays very quickly indeed.  A CRM system should support the business by helping it identify with its customers and deliver on its customer promise.  Even routine use of a CRM can deliver incredible business benefits in other ways too because it is a 'centralised' resource it means there is one view of the truth and a business can reduce the double-entry and multiple repetitions necessary when transferring context and data between departments.  It has been shown in some studies that a CRM system can save each employee 4 hours a week of administrative time spent before the fact on finding the stuff they've already recorded somewhere else!

The History of CRM

CRM really began as a 'tool' in the 1970's when computing technology had matured enough to allow businesses to record information in ways that allowed it to be studied afterwards (yes, I'm old enough to remember ticker tape and punch card systems!).  Some examples include basic 'customer satisfaction surveys' and so on.  These provided a somewhat accurate snapshot of 'customer sentiment' and areas where the business could focus on 'service improvement'.  By the 1980's database technology had matured enough that they could store more structured data in ways that allowed it to be interrogated in new ways to expose customer data and business opportunities buried therein.  In the 1990's simple contact management software was available on personal computers that made it possible to do basic marketing and early types of CRM based activities on smaller computers.  It wasn't really until the late 1990's where these types of contact management systems were intigrated into systems capable of including enterprise resource planning, scheduling, warehousing, manufacturing and so on so that sales, order management and so on could be unified.  It was still very difficult to do well and was typically an option available only to the larger and most well 'financed' organisations that could afford the big-badge software houses to conduct custom integrations of these standalone systems.  They were not cheap.
By the turn of the Millennium it became easier for smaller companies to use any of a wide range of basic contact management software in conjuntions with databases to build there own CRM capabilities as API's between software began to be introduced.  At the same time the Internet really took off making connectivity between remote sites and systems something that could be achieved without expensive leased lines between offices.  By about 2007 the first real cloud based CRM solutions began to become available.  Cloud relates to the concept of the data and the server providing the applications was up in the 'internet' and no longer installed on hardware and servers in the business premises itself.  Trivaeo began implementing and marketing our Suite of Business Application Software in as early as 2009 including at its core a CRM software application set; indeed, we were one of the early adopters, and one of the first to offer complete business application solutions in the cloud this early on.  By about 2014 through the work of Industry Analysts, for example, Gartner, trade-shows and conventions alike CRM was more widely known and the phrase and its role/functionalitybecame largely a household term.  It has grown to approximately a $50,000,000,000 a year industry by 2017 and set to rise to $80Bn or so by 2025.  It seems that contemporary business, like yours has an insatiable demand for it.  Rightly so.

Types of CRM

Strategic CRM

Strategic CRM is a relatively new concept, ironically focusing its efforts around some of the arguments presented at the beginning of this article. It is a CRM strategy that is wholly focused in developing a customer centered business model.  Traditional CRM focuses on 'customer lifetime value' whereas Strategic CRM focuses on the the theme of the 'community' that the customer is part of. It begins to bring in the community that both the business itself and the customer is part of; which is obviously a much broader theme in the 2020's with the widespread use of digital communities in social media, across digital devices, pervasive access to the internet and the fact that traditional factors underpining customer 'loyalty' have changed markedly.  The attention span of modern consumers is measured in seconds.  To out-perform in the post digital era your business needs to be fast, light-on-its-feet and focused entirely on the limited attention that your customers will give you.  If you get 6 seconds of attention on a matter at hand you are doing well! Trivaeo is working hard on defining new boundaries for the future of our CRM product in this space.  Our business application software suite was designed from the outset to be driven by 'intelligent automation' and these days we are moving beyond that into new fields of 'artificial intelligence'.  As these technical pursuits mature we will get closer to the grand vision of a Strategic CRM capability but well beyond the confines of CRM in its traditional operational sense.

Operational CRM

This is currently the Trivaeo mainstay for our CRM product and its role within the broader business application software suite.  It is but 11 of the 69 applications that make up the suite. The main goal of our CRM platform is to enable our clients to integrate their customer data management with sales, marketing and customer support.  It is readily extended into an elaborate customer support function through the use of add-on application modules like the dedicated Service Desk application suite we provide.  Operational CRM focuses on providing data to users about what is happening, what is affecting them and what tasks or activities they need to complete.  By completing their tasks and activities in good time and with an appropriate level of professionalism you have 'operationalised' your CRM strategy. We cater to the following building blocks in an operational CRM strategy;
  • Sales Force Automation - we help your users to correctly store the initial customer contact information.  We then help your users manage the very earliest stages of the sales process in managing their 'leads'. From there we help those users mature those 'leads' into opportunities. The activities incurred during handling of 'opportunities' often involve the production of 'quotations' that help to win those opportunities.  Throughout the sales lifecycle we show each user a dashboard of their sales targets and their performance in hitting those targets.
  • Marketing Automation - we provide a detailed campaign management function as an integral element of our CRM Software that helps your business plan its campaigns, track their performance and review them historically over time.  We also provide tools to deliver campaigns, for example eMail Marketing either natively through our platform or via a direct integration to the very popular Mailchimp email marketing service.  Users can also use our SMS marketing platform to send bulk SMS campaigns to any selected 'groups' of contacts in their CRM enabling very effective SMS campaigning 'out of the box'
  • Service Automation - we also directly support this in the CRM by allowing your business users to record all communications activities, eMails, phone call conversations and assign tasks, follow ups, calendar reminders and other remedies via the CRM solution directly.  More advanced business users may even use the additional functionality provided by our 'Service Desk' modules that directly relate customer tickets (service requests) to their underlying contact and company records in your CRM platform.

Analytical CRM

The Trivaeo CRM software is not an Analytical CRM platform.  We do provide a suite of Reports (historical) as well as real-time dashboard information to users.  But, strictly speaking Analytical CRM is CRM which is coupled closely with business intelligence platforms or other forms of data-mining that will help a business to identify patterns that may be subtly buried inside your customer data and sales metrics.  Of course the Trivaeo CRM system routinely collects the information necessary for a more analytical approach to data-mining but this forms part of our specialised or custom solutions versus our 'off the shelf' standard CRM application suite.  A simple example of this type of Analytical CRM in practice is to look for a list of all your customers that haven't purchased something from you in 9 months.  Why haven't they?  Is there something that unifies these types of customers? Is it your marketing campaigns which have left them out of the opportunity to purchase?  Analytical CRM can use very advanced techniques to make proactive suggestions to the business available before the business itself has seen the opportunity.  Another example that happens a lot is a group of 400 customers phone in to complain that their electrical service has been disrupted.  Using the known addresses of the customers an Analytical CRM will instantly show the business the confines of the outage; probably drawing the business eye directly to the sub-station that has a fault in it; even before the central business operations centre has alarmed at the outage itself!  In a previous life I supplied very large scale contact centre platforms to large enterprises.  In one, it had over 7,000 customer service agents in geographically disclocated contact centres that often set off alarms themselves of network outages before the network monitoring centre had received its equipment based alarms themselves off the SNMP monitoring typically installed across their network. Why? Simple! Their customers phoned in to report the outage in disgust and rage; often requiring a credit for the downtime. We laughed at it at the time, but your customers are quick to tell you when there's a problem, often before your business is aware of it.  Sometimes the trends build up slowly, other times with far more impact and they are more obvious.  An Analytical CRM strategy can help your business by alerting you of opportunity to 'improve' before your people detect it.

Collaborative CRM

This is an area where the Trivaeo CRM software was a very early adopter. The primary aim of collaborative CRM is to bring in other stakeholders in your customer experience, for example, your suppliers, other vendors, distributor, contractors and so on. This doesn't suggest you 'share' the CRM information with these 3rd parties (although this federation is possible) but that you enable these non internal users to have access to your business systems so that they can take part in using elements of it in support of your business. Trivaeo calls this 'Self Service Users'. The name should not be associated with customers logging in although that is possible. It is also possible to enable self service of any type of external entity and your business decides what they should be able to see, what they can take part in and what privileges they have. A very popular feature across our solution is the Team Rooms functionality that creates safe 'digital breakout' areas where documents, tasks, calendars, comments, notes and a WIKI are shared between your business and your own 3rd party invited users. These can actually be your customers, or suppliers and contractors.

Components of our CRM System

How our CRM Software is designed to operate

The main overriding purpose of our CRM solution is to enable your business to build and then efficiently manage your customer relationships. You achieve this through marketing, selling and watching and monitoring the developing customer relationship throughout every phase of the customer journey.  Our software breaks these phases down into operational components, each with their own distinct overview so that your operational users can quickly see the current status of the relationship despite the fact that it may be manifest across multiple areas of your business at any one time.  At no point should you users see isolated islands of context in your customer journey. All users should be able to see all open 'leads', 'opportunities', 'quotes', 'invoices', 'documents' and much more. Your users shouldn't have to read everything to do so.  Once reviewing a contact record in CRM all the current open 'activiites' are highlighted clearly down the left hand side of the record, drawing the user eye and thoughts directly to the current situation at a glance.  We extend this even further with a very detailed 'activities and statuses' function that allows your business to assign 'actions and tasks' that are routinely performed against each area of the CRM customer journey.  Your users move these 'tasks and activities' through various stages of completion so your business always has a real time view of where the customer is in any given business process.  
This becomes key when you take a look at a business and its relational intelligence.  This is your businesses awareness of where a customer is in their journey with you across all departments and facets of your business.  Each contact or company record in our CRM solution allows large amounts of additional data to be stored with each entity stored and these are further broken down by 'operational' area and by the status in each area.
You don't have to worry about Data storage as our cloud based CRM solution is offered to your business and its users as a service.  This means that you never have to worry about unpredictable amounts of use and making sure you have enough disk or server space available to cater to your users needs each day.  Trivaeo takes care of that on behalf of our entire global customer base as a routine function of our service to you.
We support your business with managing its CRM leads and CRM opportunities through appropriate dashboards and widgets so that you have better data with which you can forecast demand on your products and services.
Our CRM solution provides your marketing team with the data and tools it needs to deliver, track and measure the success of marketing campaigns in multiple formats.
Naturally, as a cloud based CRM solution you don't need to install anything or download anything to use it fully.  You users simply login and begin using it.  Nothing is installed, even temporarily, on your local users personal computers and we provide mobile CRM applications too for both Apple and Android based devices and tablets so you users can even access their CRM data when disconnected or on the road (with or without an internet connection at the time).
Our CRM system is robust yet adaptable.  It can be used by a sole proprietor as nothing more than an extended contact management application.  In other cases it is used as a very detailed precision instrument for specific types of companies like Independent Financial Advisors and so on.  It is also available as a Cloud Based CRM that is heavily customised for a client business.  It is also available in various packaged forms via our global network of partners who are able to change its presentation, look, feel and functionality to suite their local client business owners needs.  This type of CRM solution resides on a global platfom we call 'CloudWorksiT' versus the solutions based or customised instances we run for global clients under the 'TrivaeoCloud' platform.

The benefits of CRM on your Business

Maintaining adequate levels of customer satisfaction has a direct impact on the economic performance of your business.  Doing it well has the ability to increase loyalty, increase customer spending and reduce the costs associated with handling customer complaints. Increased levels of customer satisfaction also reduce the churn rate of customers by making it less likely that they will adopt a competitors product or service. Indeed, high levels of customer satisfaction can improve your business even further because customer knowledge of your high levels of satisfaction bleed through your customers own net-promotion (NPS - Net Promoter Scoring) to their friends, family and colleagues.
A better understanding of your customers allows your business to customise your product and service offerings.  When taken even further you may be able to process your own operational information to discover new opportunities for additional products and services that you can sell to your customers.  CRM software has been shown to directly affect measured customer satisfaction.  Simply being able to provide timely, relevant and contextually accurate communications and interactions with your customers, being able to process their orders accurately, and be able to handle their requests all help in the customers overall satisfaction with your business.  CRM software, used effectively also goes a long way to providing a consistent experience across your employees towards your customers.  CRM has also been shown to be valuable in helping a business to more effectively handle the 'stages' involved across any customer business process even from the beginnings of the relationship, through to the maintenance of the ongoing customer relationship and through any final customer termination process.  Recent studies have shown as well that CRM can save an employee an average of 4 hours a week by not having to spend inefficient time looking for existing information across multiple systems and platforms.  Having everything they need directly at hand equates to a 16 hours a month employee working time saving.  For many businesses that equates to 2 x full working day equivalents a month; or 24 working days a year; often representative of the entire annual vacation/holiday entitlement of the employee. 

The benefits of CRM on your Customers

Put simply, a business that has a CRM system in place that is broadly adopted departmentally will affect all of its customers. They will be served better on a routine day to day basis. They will be serviced with more reliable information which reduces their frustration and the high effort associated with contacting you again to get an update or to reconfirm the status of any ongoing transaction.  Less need to interact with your company routinely actually creates higher levels of customer satisfaction.  Unless important or critical to 'them' the customer doesn't want to call or contact you; it is what is considered a 'high effort' customer context.  The more your business can do to relieve your customers of the need to chase you the better off the resulting customer satisfaction scoring will be.
From my own personal perspective I think the ability of a business to provide a 360 degree view of the truth at any given moment is a key benefit.  It should not matter who the customer is dealing with in your business. They should receive the same factual answers to the same questions, even though I accept certain parts of your business may be less qualified to do so effectively as they may not have been trained to deal with front office functions.  Customers will often add on additional questions about 'another subject' when dealing with the originally targetted department, for example, they contact your billing team to resolve a billing enquiry and then ask if you can change their registered address at the same time.  There's nothing worse for a customer than to be told to contact the front office team or worse still, to be told to phone the contact centre to make a routine change of address.
In general your customers will receive a better customer service experience.  That service experience will be more 'personalised' and contextually relevant to the customer.  The business will become more responsive to the customer needs as both the customer and the business are operating from the same set of facts at any given point in time.  Using the 'group' functions in CRM allows your business to segment customers.  In Trivaeo CRM the contact can be added to any available contact groups; allowing very deliberate marketing and campaigning to occur based on that contacts membership in any specific group in your CRM dataset.  This means you can campaign or reach out to exactly the right set of customers with authority and confidence that your business won't be inappropriately messaging to the wrong customer segments.  Trivaeo CRM is also media and channel agnostic so all forms of key customer interactions in any channel may be recorded by users.

How to improve CRM adoption in your Business

Trivaeo has strong evidence that shows that if the business leadership team uses the company CRM reliably and with consistency then those benefits tend to flow automatically across the business as a whole.  A leadership function that keeps 'telling' and 'instructing' the business to use it without making effective and routine use of it themselves will find their CRM strategy and technology fail to deliver on its inherent benefits.  On a more subtle basis it is not the 'big bang' things which count in making a CRM effective across a business.  It is the small day to day tasks of keeping your records updated and relevant that over time builds up an extremely effective set of benefits.  It is how 'reliable' the workforce finds the data to be that will determine whether or not they make routine use of it a function of how they complete their tasks, assignments and duties.  When communications or interactions occur with a contact in your CRM then it is critical to record it.  If any employee subsequently finds that critical path information was not input by a colleage and they find themselves 'ambushed' by a customer complaint that they are now handling and the original root cause wasn't entered into the CRM then it will not be used by that employee again in the future, simply on the basis that when they needed it most it failed them.  It is a dire mistake to treat a CRM system as a contact database and even worse to treat it in a way that means the reliability of the data cannot be trusted.  With trust in its inherent capabilities it will deliver on all of its benefits for your business.  You don't need to do massive and transformational things with it to create that employee 'trust', you simply have to ensure that your entire business uses it routinely.
It isn't necessary to record 'everything' in a CRM platform for it to be trusted across your business, but it is important to record the things that are inchstones or milestones of any of your contacts and customers journeys with your business.  Your users should record brief notes about key eMails, conversations held in person, phone calls, letters and social media interactions that are pivotal to the ongoing relationship.  Routine chatter may be ignored but not if that chatter is itself at the core of a more deep rooted customer experience function.  By recording your business interactions with your contacts properly you will build up a solid 'relational intelligence' with each contact.  This relational intelligence helps to build the picture of your customer experience and their value, loyalty and overall experience with your business as a whole over time.

Understanding your customers develops organically by capturing the data effectively.  Better data leads to a better understanding.  A better understanding leads to better business decision making.

Training your Employees to enjoy the CRM system

You should go out of your way to train your employees to deliver a strong customer experience and build a strong customer-brand relationship.  With this training behind them the functionality and tools in the CRM system will become untuitive and understandable.  The employees that routinely handle 'customer service' functions should be trained to value the customer relatinships your business has spent a lot of time and money nurturing. The users should be trained in how to analyse and data in your CRM to make good decisions about where you are in any relationship with a customer.  All stakeholders should be trained and familiarised both with your strategy and how to use your CRM solution as a tool to deliver on it.  Even your finance, billing and legal departments must be familiar with this strategy and be able to use your CRM to make more informed decisions. The Trivaeo CRM is rich and broad but it does have a consistent user interface, it is not cluttered and it presents data to users that focus their eye on the relevant parts of your customer relationship.  Training your employees need not focus so much on the rigours of using the CRM software effectively but more in how to apply your company customer experience and customer relationship management strategy using it. The CRM tool will support them in delivering on your strategy readily.

The Trivaeo CRM Application

Applying the Trivaeo CRM to your business requires no changes in your infrastructure, organisation and no deployment of any servers, operating systems or databases. Our CRM solution is completely cloud based and is provided as Software as a Service (SaaS). This means any employee with a valid login to your CRM application may access the solution from any web browser capable device with an internet connection. Our CRM application may be used stand alone or as an integral and pre-integrated element of the wider Trivaeo Business Application Software Suite.  If your business decides to enable and of the other 16 or so major ERP application areas like Contract Management, Document Collaboration, Project Management, Human Resources Management, Resource Management and so on then the CRM links directly to those elements with zero manipulation or integration effort by your business. 
A good example of this in practice is many smaller businesses start by using our CRM application on its own. They leverage the included document management capability.  Over time their needs and business requirements grow. Let's assume that a year or so after starting to operationally use their CRM solution with vigour the business decides to add a project manager to help orchestrate and deliver on some of the larger orders that are maturing out of the business opportunities being managed via the CRM tool.  By adding a single user as a Project Manager onto the Project Management Application Suite the CRM system will automatically ask your business users if all the history, data, documents and activities that were generated in the lead through the opportunity, quotations and so on to the point the order was created should also be used to instantly create a new project.  By answering 'yes' to this simple question the entire antededence of the sales activities behind the order, all of its documents, quotations and activities are immediately wrapped into a new project.  The project is then assigned to the project manager who receives everything in one go.  They may still decide to hold a project 'kick off' but this time without so much focus on the history, but now with much more focus on delivery and execution of the project!

CRM use case - Call centres

Contact Centres are extermely popular end users of CRM tools, even amongst small and mid-market sized SME businesses. The integration of computing and telephony to create things like automatic detailing of all telephone communications, the history and the ability to provide an immediately personalised experience are obvious.  Trivaeo does provide integration of our CRM application to a business telephone system but we do so as a customised or specialised solution. These types of integration are not exposed in our standard CRM application on the CloudWorksIT platform although these may be readily upgraded if your business approaches us with the need.  The prevalence of SIP and VoIP based telephony, especially cloud based telephony solutions makes it far easier to integrate the CRM platform with your telephony system that you potentially believe.  If telephony forms a large part of your routine communications with your customers and you are a Trivaeo CRM application user then do give consideration to the average call handling time reductions (ACHT) and Average Call Working Time (ACWT) reductions that your business can enjoy by linking your CRM and Telephony together.  The benefits can be immense especially if you have a dedicated contact centre function in your business.

Your business CRM and Social media - Social CRM

Social Media is a powerful tool for reaching your digital community quickly. On the other hand it also gives your digital audience the ability to shout about their experiences with your business, its products and services. Social CRM enables your business to embrace social and digital engagement as just another channel of communications and interactions with your 'contacts' but in ways that are both public and private at any time. Your business should have active social and digital marketing strategies for informing the world around you of your products and services and you need to be ready to listen, respond, engage and reply to the conversations going on around your business, about your business and at your business.  The Trivaeo CRM includes the ability to track and identify the social media identities of your 'contacts' across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and we can readily extend it into other social media platforms as necessary where they differ in your business region.  Trivaeo CRM is not an inherent Social CRM platform.  We do not capture, target and automatically append brand affecting social interactions to the CRM but your business may of course add the relevant ones where they are important to your 'communications and activity' history with any contact.  Just as it is possible to detail the events in a telephone call in your CRM without having the phone connected to the CRM technology the same is true of Social Media channels.  It is only important that your business users record details of the communications where they affect the customer experience and the customer relationship.  The rest may be isolated and remain the function of your marketing department.

CRM Market Trends

The CRM Market globally is massive, expected to reach as much as $80 Billion US Dollars a year in size by 2020.  Much of it is moving to Cloud based CRM consumed as Software as a Service.  Trivaeo sees the CRM market from the eyes of a software company that designed our technology in 2009 to be cloud based.  We don't offer the technology in any other form other than as a managed and operated service.  We are able to provide the solution on the public global 'cloud', as a hyrid cloud solution where elements of the solution are up in the 'cloud' and elements like the database can be in your own company datacentres or we can also provide it on a pure private cloud based model too.  By far, most companies opt to use our effective and proven public cloud model simply because it is so simple to activate, is secure to operate and requires zero manipulation of any existing business software assets to deliver on its value to the business.
We also see a definite trend towards 'keep it simple' where businesses look to getting 80% of the benefits from a technology solution with 20% of the traditional efforts in acquiring the capabilities. The major CRM vendors still deliver CRM solutions that are so heavily customised and require so much preparation to be actually deployed that a CRM deployment project can take as much as 6 months to plan, 18 months to execute and run capital expenditure in professional services alone measured in Millions of dollars with typical monthly running costs per user in excess of $400 a month.  Many other 'noisyer' CRM vendors offer very basic CRM solutions in the cloud that are nothing more than contact lists with simple task management; yet they sell a premium unrestricted user for as much as $159 US Dollars a month.  That too on a CRM solution that is really just a basic contact database with the ability to set tasks.  In one case, a mid market CRM vendor has a CRM platform selling for over $130 a month per user that actually deletes a contact from the CRM database in the event that you try to create a lead from them!  Trivaeo has worked carefully over the span of 8 years to provide operational excellence in its CRM offering that is both enterprise grade and cost effective.  Our CRM solution is capable of being used very well stand-alone but also excels with it pre-integration and 'bonding' to a very broad and rich suite of enterprise software; all of it consistent, uniform and untuitive and easy to use.

Customer Relationship Managment (CRM) and GDPR - What does it mean for your business?

In the European Union a new 'General Data Protection Regulation' (GDPR) comes into force in May 2018.  This regulation requires that organisations both respect and protect personal data, no matter where it is sent, how it is processed or how it is stored.  If your business aims to offer goods or services into the EU then it needs to be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations and hold policy and procedures to satisfy its aims.  The GDPR also gives consumers new 'rights' and 'controls' over their personal data.  Damages for those in breach of GDPR are set to be as high as 4% of annual turnover, or a maximum fine of €20m so it is not something to be flippantly dismissed by your business.  Your business will need very detailed privacy policies but written in plain language, not 'legalese'.  You will need to confirm that every member of your CRM database has 'opted in' to receive your marketing communications. GDPR also recognises that a permission for your business to send emails to your CRM contacts is not indefinite and that your business should stop marketing to these 'contacts' after any period of 'inactivity'.  Brexit from the EU does not resolve you of a GDPR requirement either. UK based companies must comply with the regulations by May 2018 as the UK will still be part of the EU within the enforcement period and will need to be seen and known to be a safe 'data haven' in order to continue trading with EU partners.  A major requirement of GDPR is the quality of your data.  This is an area where the Trivaeo Business Application Suite excels.  It is incredibly easy to see a complete 'contact centric' view of all data stored against any entity in your database irrespective of the software application elements your business has activated.  You can see all assets, contracts, due diligence, orders, resources, jobs, tasks, activities, leads, opportunities, invoices, quotations, emails, documents, pictures, files.......all of it from a single view driven by a customer and contact centric capability in our database architecture.  Your business will still need to define ints own GDPR policies and make them publically available in standard 'understandable' English but nothing in our business application portfolio will prevent GDPR compliance.
So, what does this mean?  Trivaeo will ensure that our CRM and all other business application areas are fully GDPR compliant well in advance of the May 2018 deadline. The only reason we cannot already promise it is because some of the GDPR details are still being refined at a country by country level.  The CRM solution, for example, already has an email OPT IN flag for each contact your store in the database and your contacts can 'unsubscribe' easily without even talking to your business or otherwise having to instruct you to unsubscribe them from your communications.  We will add additional functinality so that an officially opted-in contact 'expires' organically after a period of inactivity therefore preventing your Marketing Campaigns from being transmitted to that contact unless your business users have satisfied the GDPR regulations by recording 'activity' with the client to satisfy the regulations.

GDPR Highlights

With GDPR your business CANNOT have duplicate records in any system. You are allowed one accurate and binding record for each contact.  Your contacts are allowed the 'Right to Rectification' and to have their personal data amended if it is incorrect.  If you hold data for anyone aged under 13 years of age you need proof of consent to hold that information for any form of processing.  Consumers have the rights to prevent you from transferring their data from your organisation to any other.  The customer had the right to object to your processing any data about them at any time and finally the right to erasure of their personal data without delay on request.  The systems you store customer data on need to be entire secure and secure with privacy by design. You need to maintain a risk registry and your steps taken to mitigate them.  Your business will need an appointed Data Protection Officer (DPO) who is going to be your public authority on processing data and has daily duties to monitor data usage and the job of making sure that specific types of customer data are being processed correctly (Criminal Convictions and so on).  You must be capable of showing that you can completely delete a contacts data if it has been kept longer than was necessary for the purpose it was originally collected for.  You must show that you can completely delete a contacts entire data set if they withdraw their consent for you to store it.  If a customer objects to you storing data about them you must delete it, completely.
The bottom line as of October 2017 is that if your business sells or plans to sell products or any form of services into any EU country by May 2018 then you must be GDPR ready.  Our technology is and will be.  Is your business?
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