Evolution of CRM

There is nothing new in the fact that solid customer relationships are key to business success. With the increasing number of innovations, industry experts are developing new ways to enhance customer satisfaction, and this is where CRM comes in. Today, it is impossible for a business to function without CRM, which clearly indicates the impact it has made. Let’s have a look back at its journey.

From the age of the Barter system, the importance of user satisfaction is visible. And with modern-day technology, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), customer satisfaction is further amplified. Have a look at the key milestones in the evolution of CRM.

1950s - 1970s: Pre -  PC Era

Although pen and paper did the job of recording customer data, over time, it became a massive hassle as the business expanded. The Rolodex (rolling dex) was invented in 1956 to store customer data. As mainframe computers came into existence, a digital database was created, which laid the groundwork for future CRM. 

1980s - Mid 90s : Origin of CRM 

As technology advanced, the Contact Management System was developed. Everything from names, email addresses, phone numbers, etc, could be stored here. However, the primary focus of CMS was sales management and not on customer relationships.

The 90s kickstarted innovations that laid the foundation for modern CRM. Its first step was the introduction of Sales Force Automation (SFA). This allowed daily repetitive tasks, such as tracking, recording, pipeline management, etc, to be automated. Resultantly, productivity increased as employees could spend more time and effort on other important tasks.

Remember Rolodex that was mentioned earlier? The company, Conductor Software, launched the digital version of Rolodex called ACT! It was the first popular contact management tool, and for small businesses, this was great news. Organizing and managing sales leads, contact details of customers, calendar events, etc, was done with a single click.

In 1993, Siebel Systems was founded, which marked the beginning of comprehensive CRM solutions. Towards the late 90s, CRM evolved to include sales, marketing, and customer service as its key functionalities, that is, operational CRM. The first web-based CRM was launched by Salesforce, and thus the traditional CRM began to fade out of the picture.

The 2000s - 2020s: Modern CRM Systems 

With each passing day, CRM technology took shape and form to accommodate the needs of businesses of all sizes and types. Web-based CRM began to be adopted widely. And soon, it was integrated with business systems and other platforms to further ease daily tasks.

The 2000s was also when social media was on the rise. By the end of the decade, CRMs started integrating with social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Businesses could better understand customer needs, preferences, thoughts, and so on based on likes and comments. Today, for those wanting to build a social presence, Social CRMs serve as one of the key components of CRM solutions. As CRM integration took place rapidly, mobile CRM versions also hit the scene, allowing users, especially sales representatives, to access the application irrespective of location.

Artificial intelligence (AI) was incorporated into the CRM system in the late 2010s, which enabled CRMs to analyze large volumes of data. The key benefits include improved sales tracking, automated suggestions for email and chat content, and generating valuable customer insights for better decision-making. These helped customer-facing teams provide a personalized customer service.

That is, AI utilizes the customer data such as profiles and previous interactions to provide a solution that perfectly aligns with needs. Customer enquiries therefore become easier to manage resulting in timely responses. With the changing business needs and technological advancements, AI powered CRM continues to be influenced.

CRM Software Industry Today

The CRM software industry grows with each update of its application which shows that the evolution of CRM is a continuous process.

Features such as virtual assistants and chatbots are being built into the CRM. AI-powered CRM continues to evolve alongside technological updates.

Today’s CRMs act as centralized platforms for employees to store and access data across the organization. They reduce manual efforts to a great extent via automation capabilities. Several tools are available to manage everything from tracking data to brand loyalty. These include lead management, opportunity management, sales and marketing automation, customer support, analytics and reporting, etc. They work together to maximize user engagement and a seamless customer experience.

CRMs simply help you get things done faster with minimal manual effort. There is increased productivity, better pipeline management, better workflows, customized services, accurate sales forecasts, etc.

Future of CRM

Looking back at CRM history, from a digital database to the creation of modern-day CRM, the journey has been remarkable. And the best part? The CRM evolution continues and always will, to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes.

With AI and Machine Learning, CRM is likely to undergo more updates in the future to take customer experience to a whole new level. This also means improved data privacy, which is critical for future CRM platforms to prevent any potential cyberattacks. Undoubtedly, the future of CRM looks promising.

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