In the age of the customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do. And while good customer experiences can help control costs, executives are more interested in the potential for sustainable top-line growth.

Forrester defines CRM as:

The business processes and supporting technologies that support the key activities of targeting, acquiring, retaining, understanding, and collaborating with customers.

CRM is the foundational building block of a company’s customer experience strategy to win, serve, and retain customers. It allows empowered consumers and connected employees to do business in ways we just couldn’t conceive of just a few years ago.

Here is a snapshot of 3 of our top 10 trends that you should pay attention to in 2016 and beyond. You can access our full report here.

  • CRM Will Support Easy Customer Experiences. Customers want to easily connect with, interact with, make purchases from, or get service from a company. For example, business-to-business (B2B) buyers want to self-educate versus talk to sales representatives by a factor of three to one. Nearly 75% indicated that buying products or services for work from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales representative. Over half of US online adults will abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their questions, and 73% said that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service. Companies must offer customers ways to easily engage with them to foster an ongoing, omnichannel dialogue and relationship that strengthens loyalty and retention.
  • CRM Will Support Effective Customer Experiences. Companies must provide differentiated, effective experiences for broad customer segments. But they need to go further, delivering the right customer experience to the right customer at the right time in his or her customer journey. They must tackle inefficient processes including onboarding, order administration, loan processing, incident management, and complex service requests by scripting and automating repetitive tasks and using process guidance to handhold users through workflows. They must use analytics to prescribe advice to the user at the right point in their journey – for example the right collateral for the right stakeholder at the right stage in the sales process. They must also leverage the lighterweight verticalized CRM offerings available from vendors, as these solutions give organizations a jumping-off point allowing them to leverage the industry expertise of CRM vendors, like, for example, the industry templates that The Bank of New York Mellon used to deliver better customer experiences and drive financial growth.
  • CRM Will Help Foster An Emotional Bond With Your Customers. Companies must strive to form an emotional bond with their customers by looking out for their best interests, by identifying points of friction in a customer journey, and by empowering customer-facing personnel to do the right thing for their customers. Companies must become increasingly cognizant of the economic value of managing customer relationships, and invest in customer success processes and technologies. Companies must double down on their feedback programs to capture feedback via surveys or analyze unstructured data such as chat transcripts, call notes, social posts and call recordings. Companies must also pay attention to the CRM user experience, and deliver modern engagement which allows users to focus on the customer conversation instead of struggling with their toolset.