Getting the Most Out of Mobile CRM

Getting the Most Out of Mobile CRM

Getting the Most Out of Mobile CRM

Mobile CRM is a whole different ball game from conventional CRM solutions. While CRM applications on mobile devices like smartphones and PDAs are designed to support the same goals and strategies as CRM on desktop or laptop systems, the way you apply mobile CRM software is very different.

Making mobile CRM software work for your company requires careful planning and a good understanding of how to design successful mobile CRM software solutions.

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  • Pick the Right Platform

One of the most constraining choices you face when deploying mobile CRM software is deciding which mobile device to use. Unlike desktop or laptop CRM, mobile CRM is anything but standardized as each one has different sets of features. What's more, not all carriers support all devices.

Neither do all customer manager software vendors. While companies like Inc., Oracle Corp., and Sage Saleslogix make an effort to support multiple platforms, none supports all offerings. Your choice of the mobile device is going to heavily influence what applications or mobile CRM tools you can use.

Even if you decide to throw out all your mobile devices and your current carrier and start from scratch, you're going to face major challenges. For one thing, your users are going to have their own preferences, and will probably not be happy about having to learn a new mobile CRM device on top of a new application. You're going to be doing well if you only have to support a single platform for mobile CRM system software.

Because mobile CRM is so constraining, you need to carefully consider your options when choosing which mobile devices to use with your solution.

  • Design Applications Carefully

"Picking the best CRM [application] - that's the dividing line between the ones who are successful at mobile CRM solutions and those who are not," said Guy Waterman, senior director of service and mobile products for Oracle. This doesn't just mean choosing the right product. How you design and customize your mobile CRM applications is absolutely critical no matter what software you choose.

Mobile CRM does things differently, and in some cases reversely, from desktop or laptop CRM. "You got a much smaller device sandbox," said Chris Miller, director of product management for mobility products for Sage CRM Solutions. "The amount of space is much smaller than on a desktop or laptop."

While CRM is about information, Miller says that mobile CRM is about carefully-selected information. "With CRM data [in general], going out the gate the reflex is to save every possible record on this device just in case. If you've got lots of CRM data and email, you end up with conflicts in memory. You've got to educate your users. Which sets of data shall I take with me? Can I subscribe to things I don't have remotely?"

Because of space and connectivity limitations, mobile CRM data has to be carefully pared down. The goal is to give the user what he or she needs and no more. This requires a different mindset and a lot of hard work on the part of the development team."You need to rethink CRM in the context of what is going on," said Waterman. "How is the person going to be accessing the information? You have to design the process not to replicate the desktop CRM solution but to provide pertinent information and the minimum number of screen flows to get processes done. You need to be very efficient with mobile CRM, present just the information that is pertinent to the interaction, and probably deploy a subset of the larger mobile CRM capabilities on the mobile device."

The mobile CRM information has to be carefully organized as well. Given the screen size of mobile devices, there's not much display real estate to show the user what he or she needs to know. As a result, what mobile CRM information is displayed on which screen has to be carefully considered? "The question is what [does the user] need to answer [the customer] at the point where I'm at?" said Waterman. "It becomes very focused on the specific interaction."

Miller added, "If we're making the user click four times to get at information, that's probably four times too much."

  • Get User Feedback and Buy-In

"Buy-in is critical," said Miller. "It's much like what we saw in the early days of Customer Relationship Management system Software. The solution is designed for the users to be more productive, to engage with the customer, and to contribute data back into the system." If the users don't accept the mobile CRM application, they won't use it.

Buy-in is not only critical for making sure the mobile CRM application is used. It is critical for designing a successful application, Waterman said. Because mobile CRM is so compressed, it needs to offer just the right information in just the right way. The people who are best qualified to tell you how to do that are the end-users.

In addition, the mobile CRM users who help to develop the system can also help to sell it to other users. "If you've got a few key users, they can also be your evangelists," said Miller.


  • Consider Security

Security is a major concern for mobile CRM, especially since security for mobile CRM devices is generally less well developed than it is for laptops and desktops.

There are two main concerns for security in mobile CRM: data in motion and data at rest. By now the problem of protecting data transmitted wirelessly is fairly well understood, even if the available security measures aren't always applied. For example, companies like Trend Micro Inc. and Symantec Corp. offer packages designed to protect the information in transit and guard mobile devices against worms, Trojan horses, and viruses.

Once the data is on the mobile CRM mobile device, it also needs to be protected, which is a problem that hasn't gotten as much attention. Miller cited a study showing that about 8 million mobile CRM devices will be lost or stolen this year. "If the device gets lost you could get into trouble," Miller said.

There are a number of ways of protecting mobile CRM information on mobile devices, but the most important is to encrypt mobile CRM data. A variety of firms, such as CREDANT Technologies Inc., offer mobile CRM encryption software specifically for mobile devices. But acceptance has lagged, largely because companies haven't appreciated the importance of protecting the mobile CRM data on mobile devices.

A number of mobile CRM applications offer security features as well. For example, one feature of Sage Saleslogix is a data destruct feature. With a command from the server, all the mobile CRM data can be wiped from the Sage applications on a mobile device without affecting the other applications on the device. Miller pointed out that this is important not just if a device is lost or stolen but if someone who is using their own mobile device to run the mobile CRM application leaves the company.

Key takeaways

When choosing software in the CRM category, you must compare mobile CRMs from different vendors. Choose customer management software that keeps track of your interaction with all customers, builds and maintains a strong relationship with them, and sells more services and products. 

While making the mobile CRM software comparison, notice your business's operational process and workflow, read mobile CRM reviews and compare CRM ratings. Before CRM tool comparison, you must be clear about what other software your company needs and who will be using the mobile CRM in your company to consider how many users accounts your company needs. 

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