Is CRM the next wave in marketing?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has been around for a while. What’s changing is that old ways of reaching and interacting with customers just aren’t working the way they used to.

Now, more than ever, it’s about doing business with people you know and brands you trust. Brand value isn’t just connected to sales, image or size, it’s now based on how well you build and maintain trust with your customers and potential customers. For service to be outstanding, the more you know about your customer, the more opportunities you have to over-deliver and build wow factor into every transaction.

We’ve been looking at data driven CRM and how the 800 lb gorilla in the market is Google with the amount of knowledge they can gleen from your surfing habits, your e-mail (via g-mail) and the relationships you establish online (through links and locations online). Google may become the central clearinghouse for all things advertising, while taking a nice cut to be the agent in between advertisers and customers. Unless you like the idea of paying a middleman, now is the time to start harvesting your data that resides in your A/R files, your Rolodex and card files- looking to establish and continue relationships with people that already know you.

Maintaining connections within your sphere of influence can be time consuming and difficult, if done on an individual basis. Opportunities may be missed, or overlooked due to changing priorities and being asked to do more with less. We’ve started looking deeply into online CRM tools like the open source software SugarCRM and it’s offshoot vTigerCRM at The Next Wave.

Our goal is to make sure we maintain our relationships in a systematized fashion, where the entire organization has access to our collective customer base.

There are plenty of other CRM systems out there, including and solutions from Oracle, SAP and down to ACT! and Goldmine, however, it’s our philosophy to believe in the power of open source to eventually eclipse the closed wall competition. If your organization hasn’t implemented a CRM system as part of your marketing plan, it’s time to start.