Report Finds There Is No Silver Bullet In Making It Big in Small Business CRM
Such is the case in the new realm of integrated banking solutions, complete with Internet and mobile-powered transactions and real-time balance and transactional monitoring.
On the flipside--as any credit union trying to do small business services has discovered--servicing such a new member base can be a daunting task, as the stakes for customer relationship management have never been higher.
There are options out there, but sorting through them takes time and effort, according to a new report from TowerGroup titled Small Business Customer Relationship Management: There's No Silver Bullet.
Thanks to the ease in opening virtual-based solutions, the report said, the financial services landscape is full of local and international options for small business owners. Failure to keep them happy can quickly lead to product abandonment or even complete account transfer.
According to report author Patricia Hines, perhaps no single consumer group is more ignored when it comes to CRM than small businesses. This, of course, is a potentially costly oversight for credit unions seeking to take advantage of this burgeoning new area of enterprise.
The culprit? Despite the banking power of the small business base, CRM solutions traditionally focus on retail customers and members. For nearly a decade, sales, service and marketing have led the pack in CRM focus, Hines said in her new report.
The good news is that an undeserved business segment is often a primary area of future revenue growth.
"To identify revenue opportunities for this customer segment, banks will adopt technology solutions to improve small business CRM," said Hines. "To maximize revenue from this segment, banks will break down the silos between business units and capitalize on expanding relationships with small businesses and their wealthy owners."
Hines separated small business CRM into a three-element process: 360-degree small business customer profile, delivery channel interactions, and banking products and services.
The 360-degree portion--Hines' first element-- refers to adopting a holistic perspective on the nature of small business.
She said "the ideal small business customer profile is composed of an owner's related small businesses and employees as well as the owner's personal accounts, resulting in a 360-degree view of the entity."
Second, channel interaction equates to channel synchronization. At a credit union, in this case, a true small business CRM solution allows members to receive parallel, complementary service levels across all areas of interaction.
Finally, Hines uncovered a small business segment more astute at technology than nearly any other banking client base. Thus, products and services offered to these individuals must match such savvy through consistency in both message and design. This, however, is an occasionally difficult task for a customer segment often subscribed to a vast array of distinct yet simultaneously interlocked banking practices.
"A challenge arises," the TowerGroup analyst said, "when product and transaction data from departmental silos or third-party providers, such as insurance, investments or merchant services, does not interface to centralized data management systems or provides only periodic updates."
As could be expected--with such an array of services required--many small business CRM processes are outsourced to third-party vendors. Siebel, Salesforce.com, Harte-Hanks, Harland Touche and inBusiness Services lead the pack in these offerings.
While each of the above offers unique solution strengths, no single entity--Hines concluded--is what she would call a "silver bullet" approach to small business CRM. As in servicing other banking segments, the ideal providers should be selected only after a thorough assessment of both institutional and end-user need.