Mobile CRMs — How to Use it Successfully & Why it Sometimes Fails

When it comes to mobility in customer relationship management, it was the year 2013, only four years ago, when over 1 billion smartphones were shipped out by vendors. 2013 also saw a 57.7 percent increase in tablet sales with an incredible 227.4 million units sold in the same year.

And yet, four years later, despite all of the mobile adoption in our lives, mobile CRM remains under-utilized by businesses and sporadic at best. Of the few mobile CRM adopters, most users fail to achieve a sustained use of user adoption and a position return on investment (ROI).

Why is there a disconnect?

For one, too many users believe that mobile CRMs are simply their CRM software that is delivered on a mobile device — this is not always true. This is the type of thinking that has users failing before they even begin. You must recognize that typical CRM goals such as creating quotes, opportunity management, or displaying 360-degree customer views are not well-delivered within the form of smartphones.

Second, many mobile apps are impractical because the PC application is simply re-sized to fit a mobile device display. Other CRM apps are visually appealing but lack the smarts because they fail to take advantage of the strengths that smartphones and tablets have.

Yet another common problem is when users fail to recognize that mobility should not be applied across the CRM business process spectrum but focused on the particular mobility-driven use that delivers the most value to your business or organization.

How you can succeed using your Mobile CRM

Here are some tips on how you can start to make good use of your mobile CRM and succeed.

  • Start with use cases

For mobile CRM use to make sense, business-wise, it must be case driven. Sales people use cases are many but they vary in terms of value. A starting point for mobile CRM strategy is to identify those business processes and information requests that are most facilitated by anywhere / anytime access.

Example: beyond access to simple contact information, field sales people may benefit from having real-time access to the last conversation details, open orders, outstanding cases, product deliveries, unpaid invoices, aged receivables, available credit limit,and other information that could be requested by customers or needed by the salesperson in order to continue sales pursuits.

The salesperson will want to appear informed and the customer will want to feel that attention is paid to their case. In sales, the last thing you want are unanticipated questions and absent information that can lose customers, cause delays, and interfere with sales objectives.

  • Consider ERP integration

Much of what customer information salespersons seek while in the field are orders, invoices, credit memos, RMAs, payments, product availability, credit availability, shipping timeframes, and much more — all of this is housed in back-office accounting or ERP software.

CRM systems which include integration with ERP applications will deliver a richer data experience and support a ton more business processes for mobile CRM users.

  • Use the mobile devices unique capabilities

Pushing CRM software to mobile devices does not produce any synergy. It is important to find ways to leverage CRM data with capabilities that are only available with mobile — marrying CRM call plans and mobile geo-location, using touch screens to update a task or activity, or reviewing contact updates from social networks before heading to a contact’s office.

To link CRM use cases to mobile capabilities like quick information access, geo-positioning, touch screen navigation, and anytime / anywhere connectivity to CRM — legacy and online systems are certain to create additional efficiencies that users will definitely appreciate.

  • Focus on the user experience

Mobility and PC operation are intended to be different — not simply the same thing on different sized screens. IF you push a desktop app to a mobile device, it won’t achieve a positive user experience.

In order to make smaller form factors and more limited data entry capabilities work for mobile CRM users, the mobile apps need to make data contextual — make the information entry as automatic as possible (much like being able to add contacts to your smartphone).

Being able to minimize keystrokes and streamlining workflow can do wonders. Despite being seldom used for data entry (mainly because the CRM software manufacturers are not supporting it in large part), audio is also proven to use the least amount of effort and the more efficient mobile data entry method. CRM publishers need to take note.

Also, sorting and filtering customer records by user is critical to be able to accomplish. Smartphones are not naturally well-suited to scrolling, so they do not display all CRM records typically. Instead, mobile CRMs limit records to those assigned to the user and perhaps only those who are active — this can aid in finding contacts quickly and efficiently.

In addition, to further decrease navigation and search time, sorting data by utilization can avoid making mobile CRM users sift through huge records to find what they’re seeking — most users won’t go through the hassle, so making sure the CRM mobile functionality is useful is the first step in utilizing mobile CRMs.

The data

Mobile CRM is thankfully on the rise — but, in the same breath, mobile success is just not keeping pace with usage. This is because mobile CRM users are not using it to the best of their abilities or the CRM software creators have not made the mobile CRM very functional for users to achieve success with.

CSO Insights show that 42 percent of sales staff actually use mobile devices — however, 4 of the 5 are only using basic productivity applications such as: email — and only 1 in 5 companies have actually tried to apply mobility to their business processes.

When it comes to mobile CRM adoption, the bottom line is this: staff will only use mobility if it saves them time, effort, aids in their objectives, and/or increases their productivity. Users will only use a mobile system if it reduces the amount of time they need to find information or enter it.

The upside of mobile CRM usage is clear to those of you who are forward-thinking business leaders — salespersons achieve a 14.6 percent productivity increase when they use mobile CRM applications.

Nearly a third of respondents in a study by Nucleus Research stated a productivity increase of more than 20 percent — only 2 percent said they saw no productivity benefit. Including a combined mobile and social CRM deployment, the amount of sales employees who saw productivity increase soared to 26.4 percent.

The point is — both businesses and CRM users must answer the call for better, more efficient, and smarter usage of mobile CRM technology.

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