New Delhi: A big challenge most small and medium enterprises face today is the stiff competition while marketing their products and services. Not only do they have to work their way up to establish credibility, they also need to retain customers by offering prompt after-sales service of the highest order.
Thomas Abraham, managing director, Sage Software India
It is in this context that several SMEs are beginning to seriously look at Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as a tool to push sales and build brand equity. There has been a significant spurt in demand given the accelerated growth and competitive scenario emerging on the business landscape.
Let us look at three scenarios that are clearly emerging in the Indian SME market from a CRM perspective
Let’s take the example of a brokerage house that has a customer service team and a sales organization. The service team is the heart of the brokerage’s business as prospects and
customers constantly call them to put in their buy and sell orders, open an account, make enquiries, demand demat statements, and the like.
The brokerage’s internal call centre has to be CRM enabled to manage this steady flow of telephone calls, emails and other contact points from their prospects and customers.
All elements of the call centre have to be 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 centre. This could be within the CRM system or even via SMS to alert mobile sales persons of potential customers.
Imagine the customer delight when he logs in his requirements and within minutes the appropriate sales person calls him up to set up a meeting. Indian brokerages that are on a high growth path given the booming stock market have realized the importance of CRM systems that will drive their business.
The need has got cemented with brokerages rapidly expanding across multiple locations and the need to manage remotely branch operations. Further, many organizations engaged in financial services that started small have grown exponentially in the past one year. We have seen the emergence of a high growth industry in the financial services business.
An increasing number of organizations are seeking end-to-end solutions with the 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 implementing an integrated solution, the sales, operations and finance functions can work together as a team to manage their customers, deals, payments, receivables, inventories and orders.
Such a solution can powerfully transform the way organizations are run, helping them reduce lead times and improve information flow. This approach has to be taken by organizations seeking exponential growth in a vibrant economy.
Here again a new trend has emerged in the last six months or so with SMEs across sectors going for integration of CRM with their existing systems. Until recently, integration seemed to have been a major requirement only of the larger organizations. Today, even the SMEs have seen the potential for rapid growth in a booming economy and have followed suit.
This technology driver has accentuated the need for employees to become more result oriented and accountable.
The trend seen here is of relatively smaller SMEs adopting this approach quickly, as it involves minimal investment in hardware, trained technical manpower and infrastructure. It also helps the SME get off the ground rapidly.
CRM is best suited for SaaS (Software as a Service) model given 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 that organizations prefer to get started with ’vanilla’ applications that ensure focus on user adoption in the initial phase.
This model also makes it easier for SMEs to choose between ’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.
The author is managing director, Sage Software India (P) Ltd.