ECRM: Meaning, Benefits, Features, and Evolution

ECRM: meaning and features of a useful tool for electronic customer relationship management

By Nguyen Oanh & Coralie Petit
Updated: April 4, 2024, first publication: September 2021

The growing domination of the Internet makes the business battle of all industries more fierce and complicated. But a company that knows how to take advantage of this opportunity to improve the experience and interact strongly with customers on omnichannel will grow strongly.

Before those urgent requirements, an ECRM solution appeared to help businesses get a huge customer data collection system. Let's dig deeper into the concept of ECRM and the benefits it brings to your business below!

In this article: meaning of ECRM, advantages, features, evolution, and, more importantly, how to implement it effectively. Easily manage your customer relationship on the Internet!

ECRM Meaning: Marketing definition

The development of the Internet and e-commerce has changed CRM to a new, more "trendy" term, ECRM or Electronic Customer Relationship Management. Basically, this tool is the 4.0 technology adaptation of CRM to help companies approach and build customer relationships through online channels such as websites, email, etc…

Accordingly, ECRM provides all records and histories of interactions the organization has with its customers, payments, and information about products/services that interest customers: it’s an effective way to increase customer loyalty!

E-CRM application is becoming important for all companies in all fields. An effective ECRM will help improve interaction with customers. At the same time, it allows businesses to choose products and services that satisfy customers’ requirements.

The key difference between CRM and ECRM

What does CRM stand for? If you are familiar with the concept of CRM, you will know that this term hides a double meaning:

  • on the one hand, customer relationship management,
  • on the other hand, customer relationship management software, or CRM software.

ECRM is defined as a “subcategory” of customer relationship management: CRM relies on multi-channel marketing while ECRM focuses on all web channels.

​​The difference between CRM and ECRM lies in the communication channels. CRM interacts with customers via phone, distribution channels, or fax. On the other hand, E-CRM contacts customers through the Internet, e-mail, and the latest technologies.

The benefits of ECRM

E-CRM system allows both to:

    • develop and maintain new digital channels,
    • attract new prospects, namely visitors to your site,
    • convert these prospects into customers and maximize revenue,
    • retain customers and establish a long-term relationship of trust.

E-CRM includes all the same benefits as CRM such as CRM advertising or CRM digital marketing.

The features of the ECRM systems

ECRM has the following features:

  • Customer management: Grant access to all customer information, containing the request status and other similar information
  • Account management: Provide access to customer data and history, supporting the sales team to function in an effective way
  • Administrative management: A centralized database that manages and shares customer information
  • Case management: Notify inquiries, priority cases, and unresolved issues to the management department
  • Back-end integration: Integrate with other systems such as billing, inventory, and logistics through websites and call centers
  • Reporting and analysis: Create reports on customer behavior and business criteria

Example of an ECRM

Think about an online retail store, specializing in lifestyle products. In order to provide a personalized and efficient customer experience, the use of an e-CRM system would be beneficial, as personalized marketing leads to a higher conversion rate.

As such, you can go on with:

  • personalized email marketing, through a system analyzing purchase history and browsing behavior to send customized email recommendations and promotions;
  • customer support chatbots on the website, available 24/7 and offering assistance, answering queries and guiding customers through their shopping experience;
  • loyalty programs offering rewards and special deals to frequent buyers;
  • social media integration to engage and interact with clients in their preferred online spaces.

Evolutions of ECRM

Consumer society and the birth of modern Customer Relations

ECRM has evolved over time. The first computer systems storing customer information date from the mid-1980s, but only in the late 90s, the CRM software market started to develop. Therefore, CRM existence is only 20 years old. On the contrary, the history of CRM stretches back thousands of years.

CRM was born with commerce. Traders and businesses have always cared about Customer Relations because the human factor is always crucial in trading.

The 1980s — Customer Relations in the Computer Age

It was in the 1980s that computing took off. Microcomputers (or PCs, personal computers) are beginning to appear in organisations. Client-server architectures, which made it possible to create networked computer systems, emerged around the middle of the decade. This technological revolution gave birth to the first computerized databases.

The first Contact Management system, the ancestors of modern CRM, was developed at this time. This technology was then used, for the most part, by businesses or salespeople in their door-to-door sales and marketing activities. They simplify access to customer information.

The 1990s — The Birth of Modern CRM Software

The term Customer Relationship Management originated in the mid-1990s. There is a fight over its fatherhood. Some attribute it to Gartner, others to Thomas Siebel, founder of Siebel Systems, who created the flagship CRM solution of the 1990s.

The mid-1990s marked the appearance of Sales Force Automation (SFA). Their functionalities helped to rationalize and simplify certain tasks of the sales forces at the prospecting stage in B2B. Besides, we can also notice the first Contact Center management system that manages the after-sales process.

The 2000s — CRM in the age of the Internet

At the same time, more and more organizations are realizing that CRM not only serves to reduce costs but can help increase business revenue by making possible a richer Customer Relationship and better understanding customer needs.

1999 marks an important year of CRM evolutions: it is the beginning of Salesforce, a 100% online CRM platform. The move from CRM to the Cloud is a major development that will permanently mark the success of CRM. In the early 2000s, we began to talk about eCRM to qualify CRM system integrating the management of web contact points.

🤖  It was in the mid-2000s that a new category of tools blew up: Marketing Automation, intended to automate a part of the marketing task. In 2005, the HubSpot platform was launched, which creates automated relationship scenarios and sets up inbound marketing strategies.

Another major development: the end of the 2000s saw the emergence of social media and the rise of Social CRM. From 2008-2009, major media groups used Twitter to interact directly with their customers.

The 2010s — an acceleration of CRM transformations

The beginning of the 2010s was first marked by the development of the SaaS model, which was accompanied by a new economic model, based on subscription. At the same time, CRM becomes accessible to small and medium-sized businesses and CRM approaches integrate a new dimension in B2C.

🚀  The CRM system has accelerated in recent years and has continued to grow steadily. The impact of COVID-19 has switched all ECRM into virtual sessions by using the latest communications technologies to facilitate the meetings between collaborators like buyers and suppliers.

How to implement ECRM effectively? 5 criteria

Here are some factors that we should consider in order to implement ECRM effectively:

  1. Determine the importance of your customer relationships and create a customer-focused mindset: The customer should be the center and not the technology. The technology is used to optimize customer service and make customers want to maintain a long-term commitment to your company.
  2. Have a detailed plan and good software to facilitate the task: Having a plan for all customer segments and a suitable technology solution will help your business win the goal.
  3. Ask good questions to help a customer solve a problem: Good questions can help you find out customer problems. Besides, you can study the market, your positioning also your product and service to have the best guidelines for your customer.
  4. Adopt a good project manager: The project manager has an important role. They are the captain of the game. They verify if every step of the strategy is taken on time and the goal is achieved.
  5. Define common usage guidelines and training if necessary: A E-CRM system is only the information that we put in it. So it is essential to know at least how to enter the company or customer data. Commun usage guidelines will facilitate the task for everyone who doesn’t know how to use it.
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