In the 1970s, one-dimensional stand-alone mainframe systems were used to automate sales, collect and store customer data on spreadsheets, back then, businesses conducted annual surveys to analyze the satisfaction of their customers.The technology digitized manual files and made it easier to retrieve customer information quickly and maintain the database.
The Era of Contact Management Software (CMS)
In 1987, Pat Sullivan and Mike Muhney from Conductor Software introduced the business world to an unprecedented customer evaluation system called Activity Control Technology, better known as ACT. It was simply the concept of a Rolodex made digital.
Businesses were now able to organize and store all of their customer contact information efficiently, it also allowed multiple users to access information simultaneously.
Banks, insurance companies and the health Industry benefited tremendously from this software because it allowed them to cold call customers to promote products and services, better customer contact meant that businesses could provide better services to its customers.
Taking its lead from Conduct Software, Goldmine and other companies quickly followed, launching CMS programs throughout the late ‘80s.
The Evolution of Contact Management Software (CMS)
Thanks to the existence of database marketing and Contact Management Software, Brock Control Systems was able to successfully merge the two objectives together and integrate sales automation in the 1990s.
To achieve this, many key features of database marketing were automated and fused with contact management, marking the beginning of the evolution of Contact Management Softwares.
Sales Force Automation (SFA) made it easy for businesses to keep track of inventory and sales tasks along with more useful customer information. It was the first software to resemble the CRM applications that are now used by businesses around the world today.
Nevertheless, it was Tom Siebel who designed the first actual CRM product in 1993 when he left Oracle and created Siebel Systems. The company effectively sold internal sales applications as a standalone product and became the number one SFA provider in the technology industry.
Siebel collaborated with Gartner and IBM to incorporate enterprise resource planning functions and shipping and marketing capabilities into CRM products.
The products were extremely popular in the late 1990s. Later, Oracle and Baan accessed the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) market intending to dominate the industry, along with Systems Applications and Products in Data Processing (SAP), a German-based company that operated primarily in the enterprise software industry.
The competition from various corporations caused CRM vendors to supply a wider range of services; as a result, more sales, marketing, and service applications were added to CRM consistently.
As personal computers became a thing of the norm, the need for CRM applications caused e-CRM vendors to emerge. E-CRM vendors provided intra-organizational partnerships that were not available in the CRM industry. To offset the success of e-CRM, Siebel Sales Handheld App was introduced on the mobile market in 1999.
The belief was that cloud services would be a cheaper alternative to expensive on-site systems. Unfortunately, Siebel Sales Handheld App was not as popular at the time because the mobile market was fresh, and there were not many mobile devices to accommodate the software design.
However, the concept of a cloud-hosted transportable customer base was adopted by other CRM providers such as PeopleSoft, Oracle, and SAP.
Customer Relationship Management in the new Millenium
An unexpected retraction of the CRM industry occurred with giant corporations reporting license losses of more than 20%, this was attributed to the dot-com bubble burst.
The reluctance to use dot-com technologies caused prominent corporations such as Gartner and Oracle to lose billions of dollars and CRM sales declined immensely.
In 2001, Microsoft acquired iCommunicate and created it’s own CRM program and offered a CRM package equipped with email functionality. Microsoft Dynamic CRM was launched in 2003.
The CRM industry recovered and Customer Relationship Management software was back on the market with a slightly different design.
The concept of Customer Relationship Management continued to evolve as SugarCRM introduced open-source enterprise systems in 2004. Assembled with sales force automation, marketing campaigns, customer support, collaboration, Mobile CRM and Social CRM, companies were able to use CRM at a cheaper cost compared to the cost of on-premise applications.
Customer Relationship Management was now available on the cloud which made it easy for entrepreneurs and small businesses to acquire because it was more cost effective.
As time progressed CRM Comcastcares created an application that focused on utilizing an interaction relationship model rather than a transactional model.
This was the beginning of Social CRM. In 2013 and 2014 popular CRM products were associated with business intelligence systems and communication software to enhance corporate interactions and end-user experience.
Customer Relationship Management started out as a strategy in the 1970s to retain customers. The manual collection of customer data from surveys was used to assess the level of a customer’s satisfaction with the goods and services they acquire in order to provide better services for customers. Later, manual surveys evolved into a digitized marketing database and Rolodex contact software.
Over the period of four decades, many pioneers have contributed to the development of CRM software. Today CRM applications are relied upon by all businesses worldwide. Branching off into many different suits such as Strategic, Operational, Sales Force Automation, Marketing Automation, Analytical and Collaborative, Customer Relationship Management applications allow businesses to enhance customers’ experience, track marketing campaigns in order to reach target audiences, as well as manage, measure and improve business processes.