Understanding customer relationship management

Full definition of CRM – From a customer relationship consultancy

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What is CRM?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programmes are a great way for businesses  to automate and personalise interactions with customers and prospects. CRM helps organisations improve processes, boost profitability, increase sales, enhance customer service and deepen customer relationships.

  • CRM Platform: This is a technology product, typically in the cloud, that enables businesses to record, report and evaluate interactions between the company and its customers or prospects.
  • CRM Strategy: This is an organisations’ approach to driving relationships with customers or prospects forward to achieve their ambitions.
  • CRM Programme: A set of rules and processes that a company implements to nurture and manage relationships.

What is a CRM system?

CRM systems enable businesses to store customer and prospect data, track calls, send emails, schedule consultations, include notes, manage sales pipeline and see who’s opened your newest e-mail all in one place. It can also automatically pull in other information, such as current news about the business’s activity and it can save information such as a customer’s individual preferences around communications.

CRM systems are designed to help businesses enhance customer relationships and also increase customer lifetime value (CLV) by offering personalised communications and offers that they are more likely to respond to.

Every time a sales rep or customer support agent gets on the phone to speak with a customer, heads out to meet a new prospect or follows up a prospective lead, they learn something new and potentially valuable.

With a CRM system, every question, service request, preference and previous contact detail about every customer or prospect is quickly and easily accessible. This means that every new interaction can be customised, relevant and up to date. CRM systems can also be utilized to plan follow-ups and other actions. This ensures that opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell will not be missed.

Why is CRM important?

CRM enables the sales and customer success teams to deepen their relationships with new  and existing customers.

In today’s extremely competitive environment and with numerous product or services to select from, customers are fussy and customer loyalty appears to be a distant memory.

The moment a brand-new item is presented into the market, it takes just a few months before that product or service becomes a commodity. The customer service and relationship is what will retain those customers and reduce customer churn levels.

Some customers are unprofitable and drain customer service resources whilst other customers regularly purchase new services and products and may even be strong influencers in their market. CRM systems help businesses to identify and focus their sales and marketing efforts on the most profitable customers. It also gives the business a much better method of understanding customer’s wants and needs, in order to improve cross-selling and up-selling initiatives. The more you understand your customers, their purchasing choices and behaviour, the more likely your offer will be on target.

Benefits of CRM

1. Increased marketing ROI

CRM analytics helps companies to understand which marketing campaigns work with their customer base. Campaign tracking offers actionable insights into which type of marketing works for various customer segments, making it easier for marketers to deliver greater ROI.

2. Improved contact management

Every call, query, purchase and touchpoint from customers and prospects is recorded and accessible to the entire company with a centralised contact management system. This gives sales, marketing, and customer support functions a boost in regards to tracking pipeline development and customer history.

3. Marketing teams can use CRM to make forecasting easier and more accurate

They can get clear visibility on every lead and opportunity, plan the whole customer journey from initial contact through to sale which gives a far stronger understanding of the sales pipeline. It’s also possible to include information from customers’ public social media activity, their likes and dislikes, and their sentiment about particular brands and organisations.

4. Enhanced productivity

With a CRM system, follow-up emails and other administrative communications can be automated and tested for success rate. Sales or customer service agents can also quickly access the most recent information of a customer meeting, and customer service agents can find out the background of a customer without leaving the call.

5. Enriched product or services

A great CRM system will collect data from a wide variety of touchpoints throughout the business (in store, social media, email, web and phone calls) to enable organisations to improve their communications and identify customer service problems earlier.

6. Effective Sales Management

CRM platforms enable sales managers to score leads and customer relationships, track sales-related activity and provide teams with real-time updates. You can manage the sales pipeline and all the specific milestones on the sales journey, from lead generation through to closing.

7. Customer support teams can successfully track multi-channel conversations

A customer might flag an issue in one channel– say, Twitter or Facebook– but then change to email, phone or live chat to settle the problem in private.

Without a common platform for customer interactions, previous conversations can be missed, leaving customers exasperated having to explain their problem to each new agent.

8. Precise sales forecasting

Sales teams have the ability to learn from the past and predict future sales using historical data, while predictive analytics utilises insights from customer engagement data to predict future sales.

9. Improved relationship handling

Sales, marketing and customer support teams can track meetings with customers and suppliers, record requests, add notes, plan follow-ups and follow next steps.

Reporting allows companies to compare the efficiency of providers and therefore manage their whole supply chain more effectively.

10. Enhanced sales metrics

Support the ideal prospects in a prompt and efficient manner by centring in on the leads that truly matter. CRM data and reporting systems supply insights into conversion rates at key stages in the sales funnel. When a business better knows its customers, upselling and cross-selling chances occur- unlocking extra value from existing customers.

11. Sales teams can utilize CRM to understand their sales pipeline much better

Sales managers can access data about how close a sales rep is to achieving their targets and see how well individual sales teams, products and projects are performing. Sales associates don’t get stuck down with admin, gain a much deeper understanding of their customers and are freed up to invest more time selling and less time inputting information.

12. Cross-team partnership

A CRM system empowers people from different parts of a business to work together. A sales group can collaborate with the product team to produce tailored quotes, while a marketing project that produces a lead can prepare a sales representative to have a more knowledge and personalised discussion with the prospect.

13. Improved customer satisfaction and retention

Having a readily available view of a customer’s interactions to date makes it easier to predict potential concerns and complaints. This leads to a more positive experience for customers, who will not have to be referred to different departments, and the customers will not need to re-explain their issue at every stage.

What are CRM best practices?

1. Vet the suppliers and ask the hard questions

Before you commit to your chosen CRM vendor, make sure you research the reviews, responsiveness, clients, integrations with other tech suppliers and service levels. Furthermore, you should also ask about the support and training you will get – there are bound to many updates throughout your partnership with this company.

2. Put Milestones in Place

A correct CRM procedure would be nothing without objectives and milestones. When these are set up, you’ll have the ability to track your progress, check customer satisfaction and constantly improve your setup.

Software application options can assist handle these procedures. A point-of-sale system like QuickBooks Point of Sale powered by Revel Systems has effective CRM function. It tracks earnings and order history so you can customize your services or product offerings. Software can also let you set up gift card and loyalty programs, analyse customer purchasing choices or export data to another CRM platform.

3. Offer correct training and assistance

Training is imperative for CRM software and should be tailored to each user group. For example, marketing groups should understand list building, event management and contact segmentation whereas the sales team need to learn the various methods which boost their productivity and conversion rates. Managers need to understand how to extract actionable insights from the reports.

It is important to understand that CRM is not a project – there is no end to running a CRM platform, so support and training should be continuous.

4. Be clear about your objectives before

It’s necessary to understand your businesses requirements before evaluating CRM technology choices. For example, asking why do we need a CRM system? What do we hope to achieve? Which procedures can be enhanced? Once you have the answers to those questions – create reasonable goals. Setting goals in advance means you will develop metrics for measuring progress against your goal.

5. Automate procedures

At every possible instance, automate your processes. Your employees should be free from repetitive tasks and should be focusing on engaging with customers. The system should be there as a support mechanism so employees do not have to track down customer information.

This tends to be the weakest part of CRM implementation but often the most crucial. The more the workflow is automated – the more the users will be able to find information on their customer and execute the next action. Employees will not just adopt the CRM software, but love it due to the benefits they have gained from it.

Even if you only have a couple of workers, workflows are essential to pin down procedures and make sure the customer experience goes smoothly. Training brand-new employees as your service continues to grow is also simpler when you have workflows in place.

Workflows give employees a definitive action for what to do next. They can be as simple as a bulleted list of steps saved as Google Docs, or flow charts that explain the actions in a graphic format. These workflows can also be built right into CRM systems to remind employees what the next step is within the workflow.

6. Ensure you can personalize, scale and tailor for the future

When selecting a CRM platform, it’s vital to think long term and consider what is required today and what might be needed tomorrow. Good questions to ask CRM software providers are, how easy is it to automate something new? Can you change the layout of the interface? How hard is it to change an existing automation process?

Opting for a long-term, future-proof CRM software which can grow alongside your business will prevent costly digital transformation projects later on in your CRM journey.

7. Cross-Train Workers

Making sure staff members are cross-trained in multiple areas of the business, particularly if there are less than 25 employees is essential. Having employees trained in various areas helps guarantee others can pick up if there’s a departure or long-lasting illness. From support requests, to sales campaigns and marketing projects, cross-training means the customer experience will remain positive no matter who’s managing it.

8. Get executives to buy-in

When implementing CRM software, make sure all of your executive team are on board from the get go – they are the secret to other employees embracing the new system – also explain to your employees why the new system and software is vital to company growth.

9. Create Content, and Make Changes From Experiences

Manage the marketing part of customer relationship management by making routine modifications and additions to your content. Address the brand-new scenarios your customers encounter. If you get the exact same concern twice, respond by developing a new question on your FAQ page, or compose a blog post with the concern as the title and an in-depth description as the post.

This helps future customers find the response to the exact same question, whilst also creating new content for your site, which helps improve your search engine ranking.

Another element of your experience with customers is the opportunity to constantly enhance your CRM process. If there is a constant obstruction, an unfavourable customer response or an action your workers don’t understand, harness that experience to make a modification.

10. Understand how users work.

The greatest CRM systems are suitable for all types of users, not just the leading sales representatives or the most technologically astute employees. When selecting a CRM option, study a cross-section of your CRM users – from sales, marketing, customer service, and finance – understanding how they work and how they ‘d like to operate in the future. This increases likelihood of a slicker, quicker company-wide adoption.

Setting up, or moving to, a new CRM platform may seem like a large task, but in the long run taking the time before launching to cleanse your data and prepare your CRM programmes and messages will ensure that your transition to your CRM platform is seamless and your team can hit the ground running.