Enterprises want more social capabilities out of their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. But they may already have them — and just not realize it.

Capterra, an Arlington, Va.-based company that helps businesses choose software, published a report that gathered responses from about 500 CRM users on their use of CRM software.

Despite the growth of social CRM, people still want more, researchers found. The most desired CRM features were social media monitoring capabilities (25 percent) and the ability to pull in prospect information from social media (24 percent).

“One of the biggest surprises was how many people said their CRM was lacking social media monitoring and prospect profile information from social media,” said Katie Hollar, director of marketing at Capterra. 

“In the past five years, the CRM industry has been all about social CRM and how it would revolutionize the way businesses communicate with customers and gather information on prospects. However, in practice, that shift in the social technology available doesn't seem to have reached many end users.”

Hidden Features

headshot of katie hollar, who works for capterra

But do these systems really lack social? Or are enterprises not involving enough people to leverage these capabilities? Hollar told CMSWire enterprises need to involve more of their teams outside of sales to fully leverage the capabilities of their CRM.

In the report, the No. 1 reason respondents gave for switching CRMs or being unsatisfied was that their CRM was lacking features.

“In reality,” she said, “I expect that's because vendors haven't done a good job of educating their users of all the features available, and as these large, enterprise CRM solutions cater to more and more markets, it becomes increasingly difficult to navigate the products. Organizations successfully using their CRMs are probably also talking regularly with their CRM support team and account reps, so that they're up to date on these new developments.”

Commerce Most Important?

If you ask others, social is not the most important function for CRM. R Ray Wang, principal analyst, founder and chairman for Silicon Valley-based Constellation Research, told us last month CRM systems that lack connections to commerce fail.

"The problem is CRM systems — especially the legacy CRM systems — don't have what is required to take you all the way to commerce,” Wang said. “And if what you are doing does not result in a click or a sale, then you have basically missed the point.”

CRM users are also missing out, though, if they're not able to respond to customers fast. Enter social in CRMs.

“Vendors have to get into moments of truth with their customers/subscribers if they are to avoid being dropped so they need CRM that is social, analytic, mobile and intelligent,” said Dennis Pombriant, principal and co-founder of Stoughton-Mass.-based Beagle Research. “These are the battlegrounds for modern CRM and I think most vendors are aware of this and that they are doing well to address these points.”

Salesforce Still Rules

The Capterra study produced a result that surprised no one. One third of CRM-user respondents use Salesforce, while other software industry giants Microsoft, Oracle and SAP combine with Salesforce to dominate 75 percent of the CRM market.

Capterra had previously done some research of the Top 20 Most Popular CRM Software. While there were some discrepancies between the survey respondents and the overall market ranking, it was no surprise to see Salesforce atop the list.

“As a pioneer in the web-based CRM space,” Hollar said, “Salesforce has had many years to build out its functionality, and they have one of, if not the, most comprehensive list of systems they integrate with. Integrations are really crucial when choosing a CRM, especially as sales and marketing professionals are adopting more and more software systems that need to work together seamlessly.”

Costs, Adoption

Capterra’s 31-question online survey to current customer relationship management system users in the United States also found:

  • More than half of users adopted a CRM within their company’s first five years in business
  • Two-thirds of companies had at least 100 customers when they first purchased a CRM
  • On average, businesses spend $150 per user per month on their CRM. 61 percent spend more than $50 per month per user
  • CRM software had the biggest impact on customer retention rates and customer satisfaction rates

Capterra officials noted that with widespread adoption and overall user satisfaction, new businesses will continue to adopt CRM technology as the economy continues to improve. They also predicted current CRM vendors will upsell their users on add-ons and plug-ins to make better use of their CRM database, such as help desk software for customer service teams or marketing automation systems for marketers.

“Surprising -- in a good way -- was how many respondents had taken advantage of integrating their CRM with a marketing automation solution,” Hollar said. “Previous MarTech studies had shown that most organizations were still slow to adopt marketing automation, but that adoption rate seems to be much higher for companies that already use a CRM.”

About 44 percent of CRM users adopted marketing automation tech versus 14 percent in all businesses.

Beyond Contact Management

To make the most out of CRM systems, Hollar said enterprises need to use it for more than just a contact management system. At an average of $150 per user per month, companies should be getting more out of their CRM than just a database of prospects and customers, and a way to track emails and phone calls.

“There are plenty of lower-end solutions that can do that for free or at a fraction of the cost of a full-scale CRM,” she said. “To truly be successful with CRM, you should be accessing the pipeline reports, ROI tracking, marketing integrations, and customer loyalty functionality so that you're truly able to grow your business with your CRM data, not just track what's already happening.”

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License Title image by h.koppdelaney.