Thanks to C-level interest in improving customer experience, which one expert recently called out as a major CRM trend for 2013, we are in the midst of a golden age when it comes to CRM and social tools. With the proliferation of mobile devices, social media platforms and distributed analytics, there are so many new CRM tools coming on the market that it's difficult to keep up with them all.
Here are a few of the cooler ones:
Kony Mobile CRM
Kony Mobile CRM capitalizes on another major CRM trend, mobility, by providing mobile sales teams with management of accounts, leads, opportunities and contacts from their various devices. With a direct connection to CRM systems, the app includes reporting, charting and data visualization. The idea is to let salespeople do everything they need to close a sale from their mobile device without having to log into a laptop or coming to the office to enter data into a desktop.
"With increased workloads, hectic schedules and heightened sales pressures, on-the-go CRM access is now a necessity to enable efficient knowledge management and seamless sales cycles,” said Dipesh Mukerji, senior director of Product Strategy & Marketing at Kony. “With Mobile CRM, employees no longer have to worry about getting back to their desks.”
Questback Social Insight Connect (SINC)
Questback SINC has been designed to help marketers glean further customer understanding by providing interactive surveys for their Facebook fans. The tool creates a survey linked to the Facebook community so fans can respond as they view the page. The goal is to grow a community of brand advocates who spread the word to friends on social media.
This is a new twist on social listening tools that monitor conversations about brands across the social Web on Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs. These social tools are typically software-as-a-service (SaaS) technologies for searching the millions of conversations that occur. By using natural language processing algorithms, they can assess the general sentiment – good or bad – as well as provide some analysis of the conversation themes.
"Brand marketers can use Questback SINC to develop short surveys to poll their fans about the product features they enjoy and dislike, about their experiences using the products, and about new concepts they are testing before they go to market," said Darren Bosik, senior methodologist at Questback. "Marketers can develop deeper insights about their Facebook community members so they can create a better online environment for their fans to interact with one another."
Microsoft Dynamics CRM/Yammer
Following Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer earlier this year, the software giant added improved social and collaborative features to its latest upgrade of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM suite. As part of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM December 2012 service update, Microsoft delivered the first phase of a social conversation layer via Yammer. These conversations can be held directly within Microsoft Dynamics CRM, through the Yammer Web and desktop applications, and on Microsoft (Windows Phone), Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) mobile devices.
"Users can post messages from Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Yammer and vice-versa," explained Jim Desler, director of Public Relations for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. "Microsoft Dynamics CRM users will also be able to collaborate with colleagues inside or outside their organization."
For those interested in an improved customer perspective via social search, Garret Ippolito of www.crmtrends.com finds Heartbeat by Sysomos to be an intuitive social listening platform that allows marketers to benchmark and track social interactions.
"It really is the Google of social media – allowing marketers to monitor social news, Facebook and Twitter, among others," he said. "It is easy to implement (HTML-based so you can access it from your iPhone and tablet) and quickly becomes a natural extension of your organization and its campaigns."
Aside from its easy identification of influencers, Ippolito highlighted the tool's ability to create workflows and monitor resolutions – assigning tasks to sales and customer service individuals and tracking case results, and allowing for reassignment if necessary.
Thanks to rapid adoption of digital media, the paper-based sales brochure and similar traditional marketing collateral are going the way of dial-up Internet access. Zoomifier uses the cloud to provide mobile and interactive brochures, whitepapers, sales sheets, videos and images. It optimizes content resolution to allow fast transmission at lower bandwidths. Content can be searched and new material is pushed to the user to prevent versioning issues.
On the analytics side, Zoomifier analytics measures the level of engagement and helps isolate qualified leads by providing insight into what collateral works and what doesn’t. Dashboards are employed to make data easily available. A free version is available for 10 users or less.
"Marketers struggle to justify the cost of traditional paper and PDF-based sales and marketing collateral," said Chetan Saiya, founder and CEO of Zoomifier Corporation, in a press release. "Zoomifier delivers the latest updates to collateral to sales teams instantaneously, at the same time providing in depth analytics and qualified leads through usage tracking on mobile devices."
Ping.it is a startup based in Norway that has introduced a way to avoid information overload. Instead of sharing content to a public stream as in traditional social networks, you can “ping” only designated recipients. Unlike email accounts, a Ping.it inbox has no address that can be reached by unsolicited content, which dramatically lowers spam levels.
The company has released this as a Web platform which connects key features of email and social networks. Users can add individuals or groups to any ping – the sender decides who might be most interested. According to the company, 87.5 percent of all pings sent in Ping.it spark some form of interaction. And the inbox is only available to people and groups accepted by a user.
Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).