Published on the 09/08/2012 | Written by MYOB
Customer relationships have never been more important, but how well are you managing yours?...
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the name given to the process of managing the many interactions an organisation has with both its existing and prospective clients.
These interactions are commonly referred to as an organisation’s ‘touch-points’ and they are many and varied – including sales calls, online purchasing, marketing campaigns, technical support calls, interaction between your customers and your accounts department, warehousing and dispatch. In more recent times, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have also delivered a number of important new customer touch-points.
Without a CRM solution in place, managing these touch-points can be challenging as customer records are often maintained in disconnected locations like sales representatives call reports, accounts payable billing systems and assorted other databases.
Multiple records for the same client means the opportunity for data errors increases and there is no company-wide ‘single view’ of a customer. With an integrated CRM solution, however, all customer data is maintained at a single source – removing the requirement for double keying. Be it price lists, contact personnel or sales transaction history, every part of your company sees the same client data.
Once the information is gathered, an integrated CRM solution presents this data in a user-friendly graphically rich dashboard which can be configured for the specific needs of each business unit – marketing, sales or accounts for example.
With a unified single source view of client information, closer internal collaboration means an organisation can improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of its commun-ications – positively impacting customer satisfaction.
Standalone or integrated?
Typically a CRM solution will be either an integrated module for an existing business management solution, or a standalone system. Although both can deliver similar functionality, a standalone CRM solution is not normally integrated with every aspect of your company’s business – often leading to the development of separate information ‘silos’ and the storage of disparate customer data in the accounts, stock control and CRM systems.
Conversely, an integrated system using a single source database provides universal access to the same pricing, stock levels and accounting information across an entire organisation. While standalone may be appropriate for some companies, without single source data driving it, many of the efficiencies potentially delivered by that CRM can be harder to achieve.
So in terms of business improvements and efficiencies, what should an organisation expect from an integrated CRM solution? Top of the list will always be improved customer relationships. For companies with hundreds or perhaps thousands of clients, offering truly ‘personalised’ service can be a challenge. With an integrated CRM solution however, this task is made much easier as staff communicating with a client will have access to all the client’s information, transaction history and call records.
For example, instead of operating in the dark, call centre teams are empowered – knowing what a client has purchased, when – and if there have been any previous support calls relating to a purchase. As a result service levels are improved and customers feel their business is important to your company.
Sales increases are also likely as sales representatives are better prepared with pre-call information that offers insights into a client’s buying decisions (seasonal buying cycles or existing range stocked for example). Additionally, up-to-date information about your own stock levels ensures sales teams aren’t selling out-of-stock lines – further improving operational efficiency.
Other improvements delivered by an integrated CRM solution include more accurate quotes, pricing & up-to-the-minute shipping information. For most users, though, the full benefit of an integrated CRM comes via the delivery of cutting edge marketing tools.
Marketing management made easy
Using one source of data from an integrated CRM system, marketing and sales managers can easily create campaigns and segment their customers into unique target groups based on key metrics like purchase history, geographic region, prices paid, sales volume or any other category recorded in the CRM.
With clearly defined targets, marketing campaigns can be more closely matched to customer profiles, resulting in a reduction in the cost of sale and delivering a greater ROI for marketing budgets than a typical one-size-fits-all campaign.
For example, take the scenario of a company operating an integrated CRM system. The company has recorded a number of clients who have purchased a specific product. It has also recorded, as prospects in its CRM system, many potential customers who are a using a competitor’s product for the same task. The company then launches an add-on to its product that improves its original item’s operating efficiency by 40 per cent – and can also be fitted to its competitor’s product.
One search of the company’s CRM database generates a comprehensive list of likely prospects for its new product – and the company is ready to begin a marketing campaign. Consider how long it would take to assemble the same data by manually searching transaction histories?
Data segmentation can also inform marketers when customers aren’t performing to previous levels. Imagine a scenario of clients that once purchased regularly but perhaps haven’t ordered anything for several months. A CRM query can effortlessly list every customer that falls into this category.
Analysis will likely reveal potential reasons for the sales drop and marketers could consider dispatching a special offer to re-engage with these specific clients. Once a promotion is underway, sales managers are able to oversee campaigns in a complete end to end process. From the initial prospecting, to the campaign launch and sales team follow ups, marketers can track campaign spends within the CRM solution itself to get an accurate marketing ROI.
Delivery on the promise of social media
For organisations that can effectively leverage off the mountains of consumer data they generate, social media has become a compelling new channel to communicate with and monitor customers, prospects and their own public perception.
An integrated CRM solution that includes social media tools enables marketers to easily communicate with customers – using the social medium they prefer.
Managers can view Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and LinkedIn activity for existing and prospective clients. Additionally, marketers can track brand names, user and company mentions, all within the CRM.
This enables users to effectively engage and connect with customers and prospects whenever and however they want to be engaged. Social CRM capabilities deliver a true 360-degree view of your customers and prospects – while enabling your organisation to better listen, respond, and engage with them in a compelling manner.
4 tips for happier customers
Any business looking to implement a CRM solution should consider the following:
- Find a CRM solution that can fully integrate with either your new business management solution or your existing one. This removes the need for double data entry and provides one company-wide source of client information. The CRM system combined with new business management software can deliver ‘whole of business’ improvement.
- Choose a CRM system with marketing and campaign management features. Marketers should be able to segment and prospect market sectors, launch campaigns and manage them across multiple channels – all from within their CRM solution.
- Social media is a communications phenomenon that can be leveraged for both marketing research and interactive communication with prospects and clients. Look for a CRM solution that provides comprehensive social media tools.
- Choose the right vendor for your organisation – one with an established track record of service and support for organisations similar to your own in scale or expertise.
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