Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a term that describes the various strategies and approaches used to manage how an organization interacts with both current and potential customers.
These approaches to managing customer relationships include analyzing trends and historical client interactions to help improve business relationships, which will ultimately drive sales growth.
Technological advances have enabled companies to use IT systems for their CRM initiatives. The technology has become so well used that the term CRM is now used to describe IT infrastructure and software designed to help companies manage their customer data.
CRM technology is most commonly utilized by those working in sales and marketing and includes sales force automation, campaign management tools, and customer support software. Analytical CRM software, on the other hand, is used to generate reports and analyses based on customer data collected through various touchpoints like emails, websites, and even face-to-face interactions.
Acquiring customers is a critical part of any business, but retaining those customers and keeping them happy is more important because they are the lifeblood of any business venture. Furthermore, it is five times more expensive to attract new customers than to retain current ones. The Pareto principle also shows the need to keep current customers happy, as 20% of your best customers contribute as much as 80% of your profits.
Today’s customers have become more demanding and have higher expectations than ever before, thanks in part to the advent of mobile computing and the emergence of online platforms for customers to voice their opinions about brands.
In this competitive business landscape, the right CRM system will help you improve the customer experience, foster strong relationships, build trust, and encourage loyalty and advocacy. These behaviors, in turn, boost repeat purchases and increase spending — sustaining the business for long-term success.
There are five ways in which effectively implementing the right CRM tools and strategies is beneficial to a business:
A CRM system can monitor and store all customer interactions from any touchpoint. From calls made, emails sent, meetings held, presentations delivered, online buying history, and even the next steps needed to close a deal or grow that customer account, the right software can help you monitor customer behavior and use it as a basis for developing your next marketing campaign or sales strategy.
Collecting data is the easy part. But, making sense of it all is where things can get tricky. The right CRM tool can help you analyze customer data without wasting time trying to find what you need, removing the frustration of having to rummage through files and outdated sheets.
To run seamlessly, your business also requires automatically updated customer data, with instant access for employees. If automation isn’t an option, there should be policies and procedures for customer-facing employees to key in new data whenever applicable. Your CRM tool should provide a full history of all communications, meetings, and documents shared.
CRM can help marketers get a better grasp of prospective sales in the pipeline as there’s a clearer understanding of each customer’s unique overall experience when data is kept up to date in a timely manner. Those in sales can also make informed decisions on the necessary next steps to convert a particular account.
CRM tools can also help predict the number of sales during a specific period. This capability can help businesses forecast demand trends and act accordingly to address any downward (offering incentives to sales reps for sales) or upward (potentially hiring more reps) trends in the best way possible.
CRM tools are an invaluable resource to growing your business. You won’t be bogged down by slow administrative tasks that can cause delays in business processes and decision making. These tasks are instead automatically executed by a CRM system — in a fraction of the time it takes to do it otherwise.
Plus, when cloud computing and mobile systems are properly leveraged, decision makers can have instant access to critical customer data through CRM systems whenever and wherever they need it.
When a company can access relevant information quickly, it dramatically improves the customer experience and makes customers feel valued. When customers receive excellent service on a consistent basis, it fosters better relationships and turns loyal clients into brand advocates, which further increases their customer lifetime value.
Practically every company across every industry will benefit from using the right CRM system. This tool empowers members of any organization by giving them access to functional data that can help them interact more effectively with customers and make educated business decisions. This empowerment doesn’t end at customer interactions. Being more informed can also help workers become more productive in general.
Armed with the most current data, along with the ability to access it across multiple channels, business operations can run smoothly, efficiently and with increased productivity. The benefits to an organization include:
The results are increased sales revenues, better marketing returns on investments, and a solid strategy to enhance customer lifetime value.
Operational CRM: This enables an organization to access different CRM information on a single dashboard — negating the need to access various systems across different departments. It is typically made up of three components: Sales force automation, marketing automation, and service automation.
Analytical CRM: This is used to analyze data gathered from various customer channels. It is also used to produce reports required for presenting to business managers, the C-suite, and other key decisions makers in an organization. Techniques such as data mining and pattern recognition are used to monitor customer behavior. Trends are derived from said data analyses and insights can be leveraged to improve future campaigns.
Collaborative CRM: This is an approach to CRM that utilizes various departments within a business organization and each team shares any information collected from their various interactions with their clients. The purpose of this collaborative effort is to improve customer interactions and enhance the customer experience.
CRM software (or CRM system) refers to an IT system that enables an organization to track customer interactions that include both current and prospective clients. It has come to be understood as a general term for any system that allows companies to monitor customer touchpoints, using gathered information to drive growth and bring about measurable improvement to a business enterprise.
Different CRM systems have varying degrees of capabilities for gathering data. Some capture social media profiles for prospecting purposes or store information voluntarily given by clients who fill out online forms. Others track customer interactions through purchase history, inquiries, phone calls, and website visits.
Any part of a business organization can utilize data gathered from CRM to help shape critical business decisions that drive sales growth. For example, the marketing team can use the data to target specific profiles for their next digital marketing campaign. The sales team will have the critical, intricate knowledge they need to effectively approach a sales prospect and customer service representatives can provide a better customer experience by pulling up client data during a call.
Reports generated from CRM software can also be used by key decision makers to develop next steps for a business. More sophisticated software can provide forecasts that will assist the operations team in deciding whether to ramp up for the holidays or purchase more supplies from a partner.
Sales Force Automation: This CRM component concerns all matters related to generating income and revenue growth. Some of the activities in this category include forecasting, recording sales and revenue processes, tracking potential prospects, and monitoring the performance of the sales team.
Workflow Automation: This component addresses the effective management of the workflow process. Workflow automation seeks to reduce excess expenditure, improve efficiency, and optimize productivity within the business organization by making workflows more streamlined.
Business Reporting: CRM systems are used to generate accurate reports based on data gathered about current and prospective customers. Business reporting includes forecasting, historical data analysis, data mining, and other ways to compare pieces of information that are stored in the CRM system. These reports are used to help decision makers make educated business decisions based on insights from comparing and contrasting trends, sales patterns, sales leads, and other data generated through business reports.
Lead Management: Lead generation and nurturing are critical areas that will help drive loyalty, and CRM systems can significantly help companies in this regard. This CRM component includes campaign management, designing mailing lists, coming up with forms that are tailored for specific segments, and everything else associated with pulling leads through the sales funnel.
Marketing: This component refers to any activity related to the creation and implementation of strategies that will ultimately drive sales. It includes promotion of products and campaigns that will improve brand awareness for a particular business entity. CRM systems can help target a specific demographic of potential customers. Also, feedback generated from the software can be used to improve marketing strategies.
Analytics: This component refers to the process of closely monitoring and studying trends or customer behaviors based on data gathered from a particular client pool. It includes a detailed analysis of historical data or histograms, charts, diagrams, and other figures that will help give a clearer picture of how a campaign is progressing, and what steps are needed to drive growth and improvement.
Customer Service: Data gathered from customer service representatives and other customer-facing employees are a critical part of any CRM system. This is where customer issues and feedback can be analyzed and used to provide better services and improved solutions for clients.
CRM systems are typically priced between $2/user/month and $150/user/month. Note that this does not include implementation costs.
For more information about specific prices, take a look at this article: http://guidesforcrm.com/blog/2016/03/03/10-crm-tools-for-businesses/
Social CRM is a customer engagement strategy supported by different types of software and other tools related to managing relationships with customers on social media.
Unlike traditional CRM systems, social CRM is dependent on a two-way communication process fostered via social networking sites. Instead of focusing solely on data and information gathered through various brand touchpoints, conversations and interactions can shift and flow organically not only from company to customer but from consumer to company, as well as sideways from consumer to consumer.
In many ways, the evolution of traditional CRM into social CRM is a byproduct of today’s increasingly collaborative business climate — with the customer experience as the focal point.
Businesses have become more fluid and less concerned with companies’ defined processes compared to those designed by customers. Business hours are flexible, channels are decided by clients, and every transaction gives way to more collaborative interactions.
Social CRM, in particular, will be part and parcel of every business that wants to achieve long term success. In 2015, as much as 45% of consumers used social media to research a product prior to buying it. Mobile media has also been on the rise — recently surpassing online traffic from personal computers.
CRM will, therefore, be a must-have. Software features will become increasingly more sophisticated as sales reps and various parts of organizations begin to rely heavily on the system before making major decisions.
CRM software packages will now be expected to include social tracking and mobile capabilities as part of the basic features required to improve the overall customer experience. Purchasing journeys will be monitored more closely, and real-time response to issues will be the new norm.
CRM must integrate various platforms within the organization — from backroom operations to client-facing systems — as everyone is expected to have access to the same data points across all channels. Customer expectations are so high these days that any deliverables not meeting a certain standard will contribute to a negative overall customer experience and impact the quality of business offerings.
The value of a system will be measured by how well the CRM software can respond to a customer’s needs. Users will determine the effectiveness of CRM programs, where metrics will include year over year sales improvement, average value increase per customer, and new customer revenue as part of total revenue.
The reality of today’s interactive marketing landscape is that marketers have to work with many different vendors, teams, and departments before they can launch a marketing program.
As such, companies must make an effort to integrate all customer information from various databases to create a single view. This view should encompass and map out the customer journey that includes relationship building and enhancing customer experience.
Customers nowadays are more demanding because they have more choices, are better informed, and have instant access to information, thanks to the proliferation of the internet.Therefore, businesses must offer a holistic experience through various channels.
Traditional marketing programs will soon give way to modern strategies such as gamification, loyalty programs, and creating valuable content that compels readers to share it.
-Are you experiencing delayed response times when interacting with customers?
-Are you explaining the same issues to multiple sales agents?
-Do you constantly deal with inexperienced customer support staff?
-Is your customer data scattered everywhere?
-Are you unaware of how your marketing campaigns are performing?
-Do you depend on your sales staff to present reports to you?
If your answer is yes to more than one of these questions, chances are your business is in need of an appropriate CRM software.
To find out how much better your business could be with great CRM, click here.