Use CRM to enhance customer experiences.
Contact Relationship Management (CRM) is more than just the next wave of computer-aided marketing software; it is a business philosophy. Customer loyalty and profitability are completely inseparable when driving the success of your company.
CRM’s strength lies in its ability to leverage customer-centric management, resulting in enhanced customer experiences. Adapting a customer-centric management style requires one to be obsessed with not only exceeding customer needs, but anticipating them.
The key to utilizing CRM effectively is to bolster the “relationship” angle, focusing on both receiving and delivering absolute value to enhance the customer’s overall experience. Customer information processed through CRM can be analyzed to answer two questions: “Why do customers buy?” and “What exactly do they buy?” Using CRM to gather customer data and create detailed, customized profiles, including customer preferences and buying patterns, allows users to effectively determine what their customers value and how they wish to interact. For example, an existing product allows a company to view a customer’s entire sales history, permitting the user to search by product, division and category (i.e. reach trucks, order pickers, etc.) to map out the customer’s purchase pattern. This is made possible by having a CRM system tied into a company’s back-end system. A simple standalone CRM requires double entering of all sales, accounting and marketing data; however, utilizing a CRM that ties directly into the back end eliminates the need to enter information twice and provides the most up-to-date information. It also offers various tools to view equipment lists, work orders, meter readings and service histories.
This process is further simplified with the use of the Internet. Incorporating the Internet, a BlackBerry or a Pocket PC with CRM allows for management of all aspects relating to customers from an easy access screen on a Web site. Furthermore, using CRM to identify new selling opportunities grants the user’s company the opportunity to customize services and products. CRM provides the information required to truly discover what customers want to buy and what they may need to buy. CRM accomplishes this by automatically sending preventative maintenance notifications on aging equipment, informing customers of the need to have maintenance done or purchase new equipment.
In conjunction with identifying new selling opportunities, a measurable benefit of CRM is the increased success in attracting new customers and the ability to close deals more quickly. CRM tracks all contact with prospects, customers and vendors, including information about outstanding quotes, company details (i.e. number of employees, what associations they belong to, who they were referred by), and the company’s main contact information. With CRM’s capability to deliver instant company-wide, detailed customer histories, utilizing their Pocket PC or Blackberry, salespeople have immediate access to invaluable information. The more customer information a salesperson has access to, the easier it is to pinpoint their most profitable relationships and opportunities. Also, involving the use of accurate customer information in the sales process, showcasing a service-oriented business approach, will help to differentiate one’s business from the competition.
Additionally, CRM helps simplify the marketing process. Accompanying the basic customer information offered by CRM, employees have access to customer sales histories, equipment lists, account information and information regarding the last time that customer was contacted. The marketing team can assess whether a customer should be targeted with new product information and promotions according to the last time they have been contacted and what information the customer received. This allows the marketing team to assemble more powerful, targeted and cost-effective promotions.
At the core of CRM lies availability to essential, accurate and up-to-date customer information, optimally used when incorporated with the Internet and integrated with an ERP system, BlackBerry or Pocket PC to track, manage and analyze customer data. The benefits of CRM surpass the aforementioned items to include a vast array of marketing, sales, operations and management advantages. In the end, the decision to institute CRM boils down to the element of value. Do you value strong, long-term customer relationships? Are you willing to invest in enhancing customers’ experiences?
|Meet the Author
Judy Palmer is sales and marketing manager at Silk Dimensions Systems, located in London, Ontario, Canada.