Data-enriched CRM for Smarter Decision-making

By CIOReview | Wednesday, April 19, 2017
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As enterprise data lakes continue amassing colossal volumes of unstructured customer data at a blinding pace, i businesses face mounting pressure to analyze all this data to enhance customer experience through informed decision-making. The integration of big data into an enterprise's CRM processes is aimed at enhancing the standards of customer service, calculating ROIs on different initiatives, and basically predicting the customer behavior. Thus, the role of big data analytics has transcended from being a driver of customer satisfaction to a more holistic customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

As the customer expectations continue to soar with new technology innovations and the proliferation of mobile devices, businesses are quite keen to cash in on these trends by leveraging them to deliver personalized experiences. Customer Analytics has come to play a crucial part in the customer journey by creating multiple touch points at all levels of the sales funnel and every other interaction.

CRM systems in the past have failed to meet customer expectations owing to a limited set of capabilities that did not go beyond the management of customer relationship. With focus on servicing customers, big data is being integrated into CRM systems to create what is known as big data CRM today. The mix of big data technologies and a CRM system can become an instrumental revenue driver for businesses that are keen on improving their products and services by probing into the customer sentiment. CRM experts such as SugarCRM, Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce have already committed themselves to incorporate big data analytics tools in their offerings.

A 360 Degree View of Customers

Customer-oriented activities across multiple domains—such as sales, multichannel marketing, customer services, and call centers—in an enterprise leverage customer interactions and a 360 degree view of the customers for better decision-making capabilities. Big data technologies provide businesses with cost-effective options to integrate diverse data types across their systems. With the proliferation of numerous customer touch points such as mobiles devices, video customer support and online forums, the process of data aggregation from these interactive spaces is a cumbersome task.  To have a comprehensive view of their customers, enterprises need a competent big data analytics strategy that merges together structured and unstructured data generated at multiple sources, followed by detailed analyses in a central location.

Social Media Listening Initiative

Also known as social media monitoring, social media listening is climbing the popularity charts as enterprises are keen on identifying and assessing the online conversations about their products and brands. These conversations on the internet are a source for huge amount of unstructured data that can be monitored and analyzed to gain better consumer insights. Once the goals for social media listening initiative is defined, enterprise can identify the right analytics tool that would seamlessly integrate with their legacy CRM applications. Social media listening tools incorporate customer intelligence techniques to monitor and gather unstructured data in the form of comments from online consumer support forums, social media outlets, and online surveys. All this unstructured data is linked to the structured data already present in the company's database followed by detailed data analyses with traditional data mining techniques. The derived information is a treasure-trove of insights for marketers to incorporate while formulating effective marketing strategies.

The Rise of Streaming Analytics

With the unfolding of social media as a new asset in CRM operations, enterprises are keen to leverage social media to create more personalized interactions with their customer base. Streaming analytics or event stream processing helps enterprises analyze huge volumes of in-motion data known as data streams. The event streams are made up of events that occur as a result of an action that takes place within a system at a given point in time. This action usually surrounds a business activity such as a digital marketing campaign that receives response from customers and online audiences in the form of events such as clicks, tweets, or some other measurable activity. These events are then captured as they happen and the information is passed onto various tools such as CRM systems in real-time, allowing businesses to adjust their customer interaction accordingly. For instance, a streaming analytics tools such as Apache Flink, powered by scalable distributed SQL Engines, allows the storage of events and data in real-time which can be accessed using traditional analytics tools as well.

With benefits ranging from more personalized support and service based on real-time information, big data has opened up a multitude of avenues for CRM. A sustainable implementation plan would play a key role for businesses looking to integrate big data analytics into their CRM systems.