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By James Frampton, SVP and GM, EMEA, at SugarCRM

If you’ve ever worked or have an interest in trading and the stock market, then you’re likely to of heard the phrase “the trend is your friend” before. It literally means, look for trends in the performance of stock because they are likely to continue. Whilst there are a number of traders that bet against the market, the vast majority hope that the value of their stock will go up, and look for signs of consistent performance to predict future growth.

You don’t have to be a trader to know that stock prices fluctuate constantly. Therefore, looking for trends requires taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. Over time, you can see the general direction companies, sectors and markets are moving in, which might be up (an uptrend) or down (a downtrend). Analysing charts and price pattern data can help traders make an educated guess on future outcomes.

The principle of analysing the past to predict the future clearly has applications outside of trading. In business, we look at trends such as the rise in popularity of subscription services, direct to consumer models, and the move towards online retail, to make strategic decisions for our organisations.

On a macro level, we hire business analysts to conduct business data analysis to help managers make decisions, meet targets and solve problems. But all this conventional wisdom appears to be forgotten when it comes to CX and CRM. Traditionally, CRM systems have been great at telling you the state of the nation as it stands right now. But then, five minutes later, this snapshot is forgotten, the data is lost, and those insights are never to be seen again. This has been the fundamental flaw of every CRM system I’ve worked with over the years.

SugarCRM’s CTO, Rich Green, has an analogy which I like to borrow to illustrate the problem with this. Imagine you came home one day, put your feet up, grabbed yourself some popcorn and picked out a movie on Netflix. But then, all it showed you were a single frame. From that, you are meant to ascertain the plot, the characters, where you are in that story and what is going to happen next. It’s a ridiculous scenario, isn’t it? But, that’s how modern CRM has been designed and the industry strangely seems to be ok with that up until this point.

Time-aware CRM

When you’re only seeing a snapshot in time, you don’t really understand your customer or your business, and you certainly don’t have the ability to intelligently predict the future. CRM and customer experience (CX) need to become ‘time-aware’. It’s no longer enough to say, ‘here’s the state of our customer,’ you have to know what it took to get them to that state. Without this, it’s impossible to have a clear view of the customer or provide them with a high-definition customer experience (HD-CX).

So how can business leaders ensure their CRM and CX is time-aware? To start with, everything that an organisation does, from marketing to sales to service, needs to be recorded. Every call needs to be routed, and every case created. Everything needs to be tracked to aid performance tracking.

Time-stamped data helps organisations to dig deep, uncover insights that provide answers to questions that were previously unanswerable, such as the average amount of time leads spend in the pipeline and at what stage, by reviewing the actual progression of leads over time. A standard application database would only show the current stage of that lead, without any historical data. Ensuring these insights are visible to agents and integrated across all customer touchpoints will help to create a seamless experience for a customer. Don’t you just hate it when you contact an organisation and have to explain your query over and over again to different representatives in different departments?

Finally, using a wide range of analytical insights, organisations need to be able to instantly access and make sense of the data to answer complex questions, locate anomalies, study patterns, decipher data or compare recent performance to a select period in the past.

Einstein’s law

Without going too far into the laws of physics and complex science, Einstein’s theory of general relativity shows that events that occur at one time for one observer could theoretically happen at a different time for another observer. Time, as a concept, is an essential factor in the past, present and future of a business and to make sense of it requires data.

When you invest in time-aware CRM for your organisations, you are not only releasing yourself from the prospect of remaking past mistakes, but giving yourself a unique advantage to build industry-leading customer relationships and drive serious business growth.

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