As wireless technologies become the norm for consumers, they will begin to expect to contact your business for purchases or support via wireless devices, too.
Extending CRM to wireless devices is not as big a stretch as you might imagine. Many commodity-based middleware technologies, such as application servers, already support or will soon support the extension of CRM software components to wireless and mobile devices. At the moment, few packaged mCRM solutions are available; KnowEx Solutions' KnowEx Wireless is one early entrant. Expect more mCRM solutions to hit the market in the next 12 to 24 months.
CRM service providers are also gearing up for the move to wireless. Wireless providers, wireless standards, and tools to create or outsource wireless CRM are coming of age -- although not quickly enough for some of the respondents of our CRM survey. Two-thirds of those polled felt the biggest obstacle to implementing wireless CRM was lack of standards or differences in the technologies supported in various solutions.
But the biggest CRM leap will come with the infusion of peer-to-peer technologies expected in the next few years. Today we think of CRM solutions as access points that are one-dimensional software applications helping companies interact with their customers. Peer-to-peer technologies will create multidimensional interactions: customer-to-company, company-to-customer, and customer-to-customer.
Peer-to-peer technologies will take CRM into an arena where sales and service are supported via componentized application services, and user-driven communities are the order of the day. Imagine a time in the near future when customers not only can interact with your sales and service infrastructure but can also converse with other customers to help one another and exchange information.
The added dimension of customer-to-customer interaction might seem a bit unusual within the current CRM paradigm. But blending peer-to-peer technologies with CRM will be a boon for both companies and consumers. Businesses that can successfully build peer-to-peer customer communities can expect the costs of sales and service to decrease as consumers adopt more self-service habits. Peer-to-peer customer communities also increase the amount of feedback on a company's products and services. Business leaders who can implement strategies to harvest peer-to-peer information exchange will be able to make continuous product and service improvements, thereby increasing customer loyalty.
The next generation of CRM solutions is clearly about giving customers a louder voice and more choices. Companies that don't leverage emerging technologies to this end will be left in the dust.