Customer, relationship, and management (CRM). Three words, which when considered separately can have huge significance for any business. Combining them under one umbrella can however make for an even more potent mix, one that can deliver real business benefits in today’s data rich, multi-channel, multi-device, digital landscape.
That’s why I believe that the CRM tool is an essential asset for any business, tying together disparate data streams to build a better understanding of what makes the customer tick. What kind of approach did they respond to? What did they go on to buy? Are they repeat customers? Have they contacted customer service, why did they do so, and what was the outcome? Building a comprehensive profile of your customer by way of CRM gives sales, marketing, and customer service teams real time, data driven information that can not only retain satisfied customers, but also can also help to identify and attract new prospects to the business.
What’s not to like about that? And yet many businesses feel that they can operate without CRM. Here are some reasons why I think every business needs to get on board, not just with the concept, but also with finding a great CRM tool that will power their business to the next level.
Organization and Communication
Every interaction that a business has with its customers, however inconsequential it may appear, contributes to building a customer profile. The disjointed, multi-function, and multi-channel nature of many businesses means that identifying and documenting every customer contact by manual methods is a difficult, if not impossible, task.
This is where CRM comes into its own as means to collect and collate data in one central point for easy reference. Crucially CRM makes that data available across all departments and, thanks to the use of cloud technology, to whoever is dealing with a customer whether on or off site.
- Consistent and detailed customer information is available to whoever needs it, when and where it’s needed, in real time.
- Customers communicating with the business don’t need to repeat their query to multiple operatives who don’t have a handle on previous issues.
- Multiple teams including sales, marketing, and customer service have access to the same information enabling a more seamless approach to the customer.
- The result is better organization, more effective communication, and less wasted time for customers and employees.
Multi-channel to Omni-channel
Most organizations these days offer a multi-channel approach with web sites, mobile apps, social, call center, and sometimes physical stores all available points of contact for consumers, often being the responsibility of different business functions.
Omni-channel, put simply, ties these multiple channels together to the benefit of both the business and the customer, as this graphic illustrates.
Source: MultiChannel Merchant Blog
While the two might seem similar to the uninitiated, there is a critical difference as my good friend Shelly Kramer highlighted recently.
“All omnichannel experiences use multiple channels, but not all multichannel experiences are omnichannel. If what you’ve developed in your business isn’t integrated and working together, it’s not omnichannel.”
Another way to look at Omnichannel is it’s an outside in approach versus multichannel which is an inside out approach. I wrote more about the differences between Integrated, Omni and Multi here.
CRM solutions enable that integration, providing opportunities for more effective marketing, smarter sales, and impressive levels of customer service. It’s a win-win for employees, customers, and the bottom line when done right.
CRM does exactly what the name suggests. It manages customer relations and there is no greater expression of that than in the provision of customer service. By collating and analyzing customer data, a CRM system gives a business a much better understanding of their customers and importantly, their needs.
Loyalty can be earned, and perhaps even a brand advocate recruited, if a complaint is dealt with promptly and professionally. By aggregating all previous activity in one easily accessed place, your CRM system can empower employees to answer questions and provide solutions in the most effective way.
Tracking, Analysis and Reporting
While undoubtedly valuable as a central repository of customer information, a CRM system can also analyze the vast amount of data it holds, giving managers critical insights into processes and how they contribute to business goals.
Tracking. Track important information about the products and services you have already sold, and would like to sell again. Monitor where customers are in the buying cycle to concentrate resources to close sales. Diarize follow up dates.
Analysis. Knowing how successful previous campaigns have been, what works and what doesn’t is a pointer to future sales campaigns. Previously untapped opportunities can be identified and exploited due to predictive analysis insights gained from CRM data.
Reporting. Marketing and sales executives are always under pressure to produce results and justify budgets. The high-level analysis and reporting that a CRM system facilitates can be a powerful tool for the CMO to deploy in the C-Suite.
Top Line and Bottom Line Benefits
The potential gains to a business from these enhancements a CRM system, especially when combined with marketing automation tools, can bring are clear.
- Increased revenues gained by improving selling processes, identifying previously missed opportunities, and improved customer intelligence.
- Increased margins earned from the more comprehensive knowledge of the preferences, needs, and buying patterns of customers.
- The potential to reduce costs by identifying and eliminating operational inefficiencies and automating repetitive, everyday tasks.
CRM (or the lack of it) in Practice
Still not convinced that CRM is right for your business? Then consider this real-life example from Shelly Kramer of how a little CRM knowledge can go a long way.
In short, Shelly used a highly-recommended upholstery cleaning company who did a great job with her furniture, but let themselves down with follow up and customer contact; both processes that CRM could have handled effectively.
Shelly’s point was that while she did remain a customer, repeat sales opportunities were missed and she could easily have been lost to a competitor. It’s a simple but powerful example from the customer perspective, from someone who knows how things can operate on the CRM side of the fence.
CRM reduces friction across the board from customer acquisition to support and retention making it easier for consumers to do business with you while improving your overall brand.
I hope I’ve convinced you that CRM can be a great asset to your business. But remember, not all CRMs are built the same, so understanding your business needs and letting that drive the software acquisition is key. If you need help on that front, ask—I live and breathe CRMs all day, every day.
Where are you on the adoption of CRM? I would love to hear about your CRM experiences.