Why CRM is important
Why CRM is important is that it defines the way a business manages the relationships with customers and enables you to keep service and brand awareness in balance thus making it easier for your Clients to buy from you.
Increasingly dealing with customers on a day-to-day basis will require some joined up systems, this is why well thought out a Customer relationship management system is becoming increasingly popular.
Customer relationship management (CRM) is not just about technology, it’s more about strategy to learn more about customers’ needs and behaviours in order to be in a position to become a more informed supplier.
When your system reflects your business philosophy and becomes less about the technology then you reap better relations based upon dealing with customers more effectively and efficiently.
Of course, successful CRM does rely on the use of technology but don’t let that get in the way of your own preferences and objectives.
This document outlines the benefits to your business and some of the potential drawbacks of implementing CRM without internal support covering the key issues you may want to consider.
Why use CRM?
In business the importance of retaining existing customers and expanding the business is paramount. The associated costs when finding new customers mean that every existing customer is important.
The more opportunities a customer has to engage with your company the better. Some Companies achieve this by opening up more channels such as direct sales, online sales, franchises, use of agents. The more channels you have, the greater the need to have a mechanism to manage your interactions mindful of each customers profile and buying patterns.
Customer relationship management (CRM) helps a businesses develop insight to the behaviour of customers and modify their business operations to ensure that customers are served in the best possible way.
A good CRM system can assist by:
- Helping you “profile” individuals and groups to market more effectively and increase sales
- Helping you adapt to the changing ways of customers to stay ahead of the curve and seasonal or periodic trends.
To benefit from CRM is not just a question of buying the right software. You must also consider training your team on how to use the new found tools to better adapt to the opportunities it reveals as your customers begin to engage with each section of your business. Many companies fail to invest in the training fail to garner local support and then blame the software. Only a fool would get into a car without a driving licence a good CRM system is no different. Equally important is taking your team along with you, without commitment internally your project cannot achieve its potential.
BUSINESS BENEFITS OF CRM
Implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) solution will involve some management time and a modest investment in understanding your processes in order that it can be reflected in the system you select. If the supplier starts to ask you to adapt to their software then stop and reconsider the supplier. There are many potential benefits.
Benefits from this investment will be improved relations with your existing customers, which can lead to:
- Increased sales through being more able to respond to demand and even anticipate it.
- Cross-selling of other services and solutions.
- Identifying which of your customers and supplied services are profitable.
This can lead to better marketing of your products and services:
- Effective targeted marketing communications aimed specifically at customer needs using a media they are comfortable with.
- A more personal approach to win more business in the future
Ultimately this could lead to:
- Enhanced customer satisfaction and essentially better retention to drive home your good reputation for service and delivery.
- Increased value from your existing customers will also reduce the costs associated with supporting and servicing them.
- Improve profitability by focusing on the correct customers and dealing with the unprofitable clients more cost effectively.
The process of Sales and Service and of course essentially Marketing can all cohabit within the same CRM system. As the Marketing identify new opportunities so the applicant is profiled and proceeds through your pipeline emerging as a well serviced and happy client.
Customers needs will change over time, it is essential your selected CRM system makes it simple for you to adapt to that change, WiredContact is extremely flexible and able to adapt to the changing needs of all departments at short notice.
TYPES OF CRM SOLUTION
Customer relationship management (CRM) is important in running a successful business. The better the relationship, the easier it is to conduct business and generate revenue. Therefore using technology to improve CRM makes good business sense.
CRM solutions fall into the following four broad categories.
Outsourced solutions often called Hosted CRM systems
If you want to avoid the cost of self hosting and the associated support this is a popular route and is ideal if you need to implement a solution quickly and your company does not have the in-house skills necessary to tackle the job from scratch. It also takes away the need for you to worry about updating the servers, managing backups and of course security of data.
If you sell sprockets and your business is no different from thousands of others there will be an “Off the shelf” solution for you. This approach is generally the cheapest option as you are investing in standard software components. The downside is the software may not always do precisely what you want and you may have to trade off functionality for convenience and price. The key to success is to be flexible without compromising too much.
Custom CRM software
The ultimate in tailored CRM solutions, consultants and software engineers will customise or create a CRM system and integrate it with your existing software. The downside could be cost unless the system is designed to allow you to take on some of the customisation.
If you choose this option, make sure you carefully specify exactly what you want. This will usually be the most expensive option and costs will vary depending on what your software designer quotes.
Managed and hosted CRM solutions
A half-way house between custom and outsourced solutions, this involves renting a customised suite of hosted CRM and having it tailored to suite your needs. This can be extremely cost effective as it allows you to deploy only elements you want and the control to alter the system mid-flow if the need is there.
How to implement your CRM system
The implementation of a customer relationship management (CRM) solution is best treated in stages, moving from collecting information about your customers and processing it to using that information to improve your marketing and the customer experience.
The priority should be to capture the information you need to identify your customers and categorise their behaviour. Those businesses with a website and online customer service have an advantage as customers can enter and maintain their own details if needed.
Structure and features
The most effective way to store and manage your customer information is in a relational database – a centralised customer database that will allow you to run all your systems from the same source, ensuring that everyone uses up-to-date information and removing islands of data making it easier to pull in the same direction.
With information collected and stored centrally, the next stage is to make this information available to staff in the most useful format such as a browser as it reduces the cost of ownership and drives productivity as staff will be able to work from almost anywhere on almost any device with an internet connection.
Using data mining tools in dashboards or spreadsheet programs if preferred you will be able to analyse the data to identify patterns or relationships, you can begin to profile customers and develop sales strategies.
Many businesses find that a small percentage of their customers generate a high percentage of their profits. Using CRM to gain a better understanding of your customers’ needs, desires and self-perception, you can reward and target your most valuable customers.
Enhancing the customer experience
Just as a small group of customers are the most profitable, a small number of complaining customers often take up a disproportionate amount of staff time. If their problems can be identified and resolved quickly, your staff will have more time for other customers.
POTENTIAL DRAWBACKS OF CRM
There are several reasons why implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) solution might not have the desired results.
There could be a lack of commitment from people within the company to the implementation of a CRM solution. Adapting to a customer-focused approach may require a cultural change. There is a danger that relationships with customers will break down somewhere along the line, unless everyone in the business is committed to viewing their operations from the customer’s perspective.
Poor communication can prevent buy-in. In order to make CRM work, all the relevant people in your business must know what information you need and how to use it, don’t forget to address the WIIFM element (What’s in it for me) at personal and departmental levels. Once all parties see the benefit your project stands a fer better chance of success.
Weak leadership could cause problems for any CRM implementation plan. The onus is on management to lead by example and push for a customer focus on every project. If a proposed plan isn’t right for your customers, don’t do it. Send your teams back to the drawing board to come up with a solution that will work.
Gently does it, trying to implement CRM as a complete solution in one go is a tempting but risky strategy. It is better to break your CRM project down into manageable pieces by setting up pilot programs within specific departments with clearly defined goals. Consider starting with a specific objective that incorporates all the necessary departments and groups but is small and flexible enough to allow adjustments along the way.
Don’t underestimate how much data you will require, and make sure that you can expand your systems if necessary. You need to carefully consider what data is collected and stored to ensure that only useful data is kept.
You must also ensure you comply with the data protection act.
Avoid adopting rigid rules which cannot be changed. Rules should be flexible to allow the needs of individual customers and your departments to be met.