What is CRM?
Simply put, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is nothing more but an effective software solution: a highly customizable application featuring many useful functions, essential for the growth of any business. As the name itself suggests, the main objective of CRM is to improve and streamline a company’s or a business’ relationship with its customers.
You have never used a CRM software? Well, say “hello” to your future, because one thing’s for certain: a business without a CRM software is much less methodical than a business with a proper CRM solution. In other words: even if you’re doing everything right, a CRM application will automate so much of what you’re currently doing manually that you’ll suddenly find yourself with so much time on your hands that you’ll be tempted to expand immediately.
But, most probably, even if you don’t know it yet, you’re not doing everything right.
In fact, you may have already lost the contact information of some customer, or an unplanned delay may have already caused another one to ring up your nearest competitor. And it’s probably not that hard for you to imagine a scenario in which, even though a potential customer of yours is specifically trying to purchase a product your organization specializes in, his company is swayed away from you by that highly effective marketing campaign from your below par rival.
If any of this rings a bell, and you’re not really interested in reading engaging blog posts, you may want to contact us right now. If you’re still not convinced, here is a more in-depth look on how CRM can help you in any of the four major areas of business.
We may be exaggerating a bit, but, in the fast-moving society of today, who can really object to the impression that marketing may have grown important enough to be deemed all but the alpha and omega of business success. So much so, in fact, that surveys have found out that a customer is about 57% sure what to buy before even contacting a supplier. Expecting for customers to window-shop two decades into the 21st century might be expecting too much.
CRM automates marketing-related tasks. If, for example, the software uncovers a sales lead, it is programmed to immediately send all the right marketing material (emails, messages etc.), giving you the best chance to turn a prospective consumer into a long-term client – while you’re working on something altogether different.
CRM is also a good analysing tool: it automatically evaluates the effects of your strategies, by, say, calculating how many leads have been converted into sales and by which members of your sales, market, and/or business team.
Thus, you won’t have to worry anymore about spending more on marketing than you earn from it – you’ll have the right numbers and you’ll be able to almost instantly and effortlessly reduce costs.
All successful companies revolve around human needs. Having relevant and up-to-date data about your current and potential customers will help you immensely in the long run, giving you the edge over your current and future competitors.
CRM software allows businesses and companies to keep track of the entire sales process, starting from sales leads all the way to closed deals. It also allows a manager to keep track if the sales personnel have followed all the necessary steps outline in the company procedures, prior to closing a respective deal.
In addition, CRM keeps you constantly informed about customer engagement – another thing of extreme importance. For instance, calling a customer twice to advertise the same product is usually not a good idea, but keeping track of this is difficult if not computerised.
GPS-enabled CRM apps offer yet another benefit, providing a salesperson the option to engage with a customer directly, instead of walking them over through the phone or via email.
Because, if there’s one thing you wouldn’t like to do ever again in your life, is probably use the phone or the email to explain something to a disorganised and bewildered customer.
An on-demand customer service is the main instrument for retaining customers. In the long run, customer satisfaction may result in more profits than even a good marketing campaign.
“A business absolutely devoted to Customer Service Excellence will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.” – Sir Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company
CRM guarantees better customer service. To start with, it provides you with multiple channels to reach your customers (e-mail, web, SMS, social media). But this is also true the other way around – something you should never overlook! Because in 2015, about 84% of online adults solved their problems via self-service mobile apps and FAQs. This means that you should be more interested into making self-service simpler and easier for customers than hiring people to help them directly. According to the same study, in fact, more than two thirds of the customers tend to complain about poor customer service.
Relevant data should be made available to both your agents and your customers. “Freedom to be informed” is what customer service is all about today. CRM makes this easy and straightforward, as agents have much more time and ways to engage with customers. Because, sometimes, it may be better to send a tutorial link on Facebook than repeatedly explain things over the phone.
CRM is all about organization. It turns tedious duties, such as arranging, remembering and preparing for scheduled meetings with customers, into background tasks, amounting to no more than few clicks.
All the important information about everybody (contacts, follow-ups, complaints) will be there, at the tip of your fingertip.
Most of your customers probably spend the majority of their time online, visiting a variety of social channels, from Facebook to Twitter, to share their thoughts, express their concerns and voice their complaints.
No longer would they settle with being ”˜on hold’ for few minutes on a company landline. Times have changed – and so have customers. Modern-day clients expect fast, friendly and useful social engagement from businesses and companies. It’s a major paradigm shift, since it is businesses and companies that are currently expected to come to the customers, and not the opposite.
Once again, a CRM app proves to be an all-in-one solution. It provides all the relevant information and channels to give both salespeople and marketers the chance to engage with customers in a less “businessy” type of way, circumventing formulaic discussions by delivering the right data to the right person at the right place and at the right time.
CRM software gives you the chance to survey and scrutinize everything related to your company and its online reputation. For example, if a person voices his or her complaints or concerns about your company in a twit or a Facebook post, with a CRM app you will be informed right away, and instead of ignoring him/her or letting him/her put you in the wrong light, you can contact the customer straightaway and engage with his or her problem immediately.
This increases the sense of loyalty and helps keeping customers constantly satisfied. And that’s how even an unsatisfied one-time consumer may turn into a compliment-sharing long-term customer.
All in all, CRM software should leave no stone unturned: it’s an all-round solution for all your business needs. In a nutshell, what it essentially does is making almost all of the tedious and ungratifying administrative work obsolete. Since it is a centralized system, it also minimizes the risk of misunderstandings and communication gaps: everything happens in real-time for everybody.
“Successful CRM is about competing in the relationship dimension. Not as an alternative to having a competitive product or reasonable price – but as a differentiator. If your competitors are doing the same thing you are (as they generally are), product and price won’t give you a long-term, sustainable competitive advantage. But if you can get an edge based on how customers feel about your company, it’s a much stickier – sustainable – relationship over the long haul.” – Bob Thompson, CustomerThink Corporation
More importantly, however, CRM software brings your customers in the spotlight. With all of your teams on the same page, mix-ups and disgruntled customers should be a thing of the past. In addition, having all the necessary data automatically stored and easily accessible gives salespeople and marketers much more time to concentrate on projects vastly more important than the common administrative tasks, which will certainly result in higher sales leads, more deals closed and higher customer retention rates.
CRM is all about people, and, according to Richard Branson, business is about people, people, and people. And he has been knighted for his services to entrepreneurship.
Ignore his advice at your own risk.
(Seeing that you reached the end of this article, we guess it’s a safe bet to suppose that you like our style and that you’re interested in reading about similar management tools; if so, we have an article about CMS and ERP as well – in addition to offering consulting services about each of them and much more.)