The Blockchain Approach to Customer Relationship Management


It has long been understood that satisfied customers are key to a thriving business. Customer relationship management, or CRM, enables just that by helping a business engage meaningfully with its customers, improving profitability while lowering costs. With companies ​spending​ a whopping $48.2 billion on CRM software in 2018 alone — up more than 15% from the previous year — and a forecast that CRM will ​become​ the largest segment in the software market by 2020, it’s curious that only ​46%​ of businesses invested in such solutions last year.

CRM is inhibited by the inability to connect relevant data to real, actionable insights

The reasons for the lackluster retention vary, but some patterns seem clear:

  1. Prohibitive costs

  2. Inaccurate, incomplete customer data as a result of complex implementations

  3. The need to rebuild the same models over and over again for each business and creating local data silos​ rather than a global data network

  4. Cumbersome integrations: large overhead costs in management, analytics and operations

Cost as a barrier to entry is very real. Businesses often indicate that some of the biggest pain points in adopting a CRM platform are the cost and time required for setup.

Additionally, company data is fragmented across multiple discrete systems that cannot communicate well with other systems. An average company in the United States ​believes​ that up to 25% of its entered data is inaccurate, creating customer misinformation rather than customer insights.

An Introhive survey shows that 70% of sales professionals are spending a minimum four hours per week on data entry for their CRM systems and 60% spend another four hours deciphering that data. Of all the sales and business development professionals surveyed, 60% use CRM on a daily basis, and just 23% of them consider gaining insights from their CRM an easy task.

New CRM system architecture for a more complete picture of the customer journey

The solution to generating a true customer profile isn’t one-dimensional. It takes an entire revamp of all customer data touchpoints — from making it easy to enter, access and analyze data to being able to securely share that data and collaborate across businesses and industries.

Overcoming the sluggish pace and prohibitive pricing of traditional CRM technology as well as adapting to shifting market trends and customer needs requires a new infrastructure for delivering and connecting data and services — blockchain can be that solution.

Blockchain, by virtue, solves the deficiencies of the CRM infrastructure by:

  1. Enabling the expedient, transfer of accurate data in a cost-effective way

  2. Incentivizing data accuracy and integrity

  3. Enabling extraordinary cross-platform and cross-brand services that were previously impossible

However, only a handful of companies are exploring distributed ledger technology in the CRM space. ​Nucleus.Vision​ is currently giving businesses access to real-time customer insights via their ION IoT sensors that capture granular data such as footfall per department and time spent in a specific section of the store. Coupled with its Neuron AI, a real-time analytics engine, the company is leveraging blockchain to create a platform where businesses can access the most relevant data to drive a truly customer-focused campaign.

A successful few others are focused on loyalty programs and other tangential services for customers. Loyyal, a blockchain loyalty platform that services some of the Fortune 500 companies, is continuing to expand globally, with added investments from Line, Recruit Co. and Monex Group. Qiibee, another blockchain loyalty platform, helps businesses migrate their cumbersome and expensive loyalty programs onto the blockchain, and has partnered with IBM and Coinify, among others, to provide the loyalty industry with low-cost, high-value solutions.

To help connect all of these ecosystems and more, Cere Network has extensively restructured its CRM platform by creating a network allowing interoperability between all business partners and vendors for collaborating on relevant, accurate customer data, from which real insights can be extracted, all at a far lower price point.

The trend is catching on with other industry leaders such as Salesforce, who are seeking to leverage blockchain technology to improve their service infrastructure.

Companies may have overspent on CRM, but real value is just around the corner 

Companies are investing heavily into a machine that generally produces a low dollar-to-value ratio when considering the low efficiency and high costs of these services and products. As Salesforce once said, “The value of CRM isn’t in the product, it’s how you use it”

But with CRM solutions still unappealing to staff for everyday use, and their clunky, disjointed network of data silos that produce inaccurate and incomplete data — how well can a CRM solution actually be used?

Blockchain is introducing an entirely new paradigm of operating in the industry, creating new standards of how data is stored, analyzed and used. It gives all network participants one of the most important things CRM lacks currently: true interoperability. As the leading industry solution, for which progressive projects are beginning to reshape customer relationship management through blockchain, the real value of CRM will begin to unlock.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Fred Jin is the founder and CEO of Cere Network, the first blockchain CRM ecosystem. Prior to Cere Network, Fred co-founded Tencent-backed social gaming company 50 Cubes and led the development of Bebo’s media platform — a pivotal feature that led to the $1 billion acquisition of the early social network AOL.

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