April 15, 2024

CRM is one of the most exciting areas that organizations are looking at these days. We have seen a significant spurt in demand given the accelerated growth and competitive scenario emerging on the business landscape.

Let us look at THREE scenarios here which are clearly emerging in the Indian SME market from a CRM perspective,

First, standalone CRM solutions which many organizations are implementing. I am taking the example of a Brokerage House that has a Customer Service team and a Sales Organization. For a brokerage, the customer service team is the heart of their business as prospects and customers are constantly calling them with requests, issues, requirements, account set up and what have you. This internal Call Center has to be CRM enabled to manage this steady flow of telephone calls, emails and other contact points from their prospects and customers. Invariably their telephony systems have also to be integrated with the CRM. All elements of the Call center have to be truly integrated for seamless delivery of customer service. Likewise their sales team needs also to be tightly integrated in to manage leads allocated by the Call center. This could be within the CRM system or even via SMS to alert mobile sales persons of potential customers. Imagine the customer delight, if you log in your requirements and within minutes the appropriate sales person calls you to set up a meeting. Indian brokerages which are on a high growth path given booming stock markets have realized the importance of CRM systems that will truly drive their business growth. The need has got cemented with brokerages rapidly expanding across multiple locations and the need to manage remotely branch operations. Further many organizations which started small have grown exponentially in the last one year. We have seen the emergence of a high growth industry in the Financial Services business.

Secondly, more and more organizations are seeking end to end solutions with best of breed offerings. The classic example is of ERP integrated with CRM. This is increasingly seen as a trend in the Indian market now. By having this integrated solution, the sales, operations and finance organizations can work together as a team to manage their customers, deals, payments, receivables, inventories and orders. This can powerfully transform the way organizations are run and reduce lead times and improve information flow. This approach has to be taken by organizations seeking exponential growth in an economy where things are happening. Here again we are witness to a new trend that has emerged in the last 6 months or so across SME businesses. This seemed to have been a major requirement for larger organizations until sometime back. This again reflects the rapid growth potential seen by SMEs in India today. This technology driver has accentuated the need for employees to become more result oriented as well as increasingly accountable.

Thirdly, hosted offerings are here to stay for SMEs looking for CRM application. The trend we see is of relatively smaller SMEs adopting this approach quickly as this minimizes investments in hardware, trained technical manpower and infrastructure. It also helps them get off the ground rapidly. CRM is best suited for SaaS (Software as a Service) model given the fact that sales persons are generally on the move and can therefore work from any location as long as internet bandwidth is available. The other major driver of SaaS is the fact that organizations prefer to get started with vanilla applications which makes sure that they focus on user adoption in the initial phase. Further this model makes it easier for SMEs to decide if they wish to rent or buy as the on-premise should always exist in case organizations decide at some point in time to move the application in-house. Flexibility is a huge advantage from a deployment and investment perspective. Lead management, Sales force automation are the two major areas of CRM that are best enabled though the SaaS model.