Everything you ever wanted to know about CRM but were afraid to ask
To help you make the right decision in choosing a CRM system, we’ve answered some of the most common CRM-related questions.
What is CRM?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Based on the well-known marketing theory that it is more profitable to keep existing customers than to go out looking for new ones, the CRM concept is based on forming and developing relationships with customers in order to enhance customer satisfaction and maximise profit.
So it’s just for our sales team, right?
Wrong! Although CRM systems began as simple contact databases to help salespeople track prospects and leads, things have moved on over the last decade, and CRM systems now encompass virtually all business functions:
Of course, CRM was originally created as a tool for sales teams. A good CRM system allows salespeople to manage their appointments, manage their contact databases, produce quotations, target customers, and generate reports. Sales managers can implement processes and check that they are being followed, and record all vital sales data.
Marketing teams can use CRM to maintain and manage customer/prospect lists and subsequently coordinate marketing campaigns, as well as monitoring their effectiveness. A powerful CRM will also allow marketers to prepare, generate and send mail/email campaigns. A CRM can even help with online marketing, by recording the buying habits of customers and using web analytics to help you see which parts of your site are popular/unpopular. Monitoring the different ingredients of your marketing mix will help you learn what’s working and what isn’t.
Customers don’t just talk to your sales or customer service people – they also deal regularly with your accounts department and, in the case of complaints, they may need to talk to supervisors, managers or even directors. A CRM system which records every interaction between you and your customers means that whoever talks to your customer has all the information they need to hand – no need to put that customer on hold while you track down the information you need.
Whatever you’re selling – a service, a bulk off-the-shelf product, a one-off customisation – your delivery team need to know exactly what your customers have ordered, and when they’re expecting to receive it. Delivery problems often occur when an important piece of key information isn’t communicated to the delivery team, and can cost you money. A CRM system means delivery staff can see exactly what the customer wants and when they want it, and also allows them to feed useful information back to the sales team which could result in increased business.
Taking care of customers after they’ve bought your products is a vital part of the CRM concept, and for many companies, particularly in the service industries, it is where the majority of interactions with customers take place. A CRM system will help your customer service team to constantly monitor customer relationships, and make you more money by helping them identify further sales opportunities.
I already have a lot of information about my customers. What can CRM tell me that I don’t already know?
You may already be storing a lot of details about your customers – where they live, what they do, their age, their interests etc. - but are you joining the dots and getting the most out of that data?
Typical organisations store customer data in information “islands”, i.e. isolated in several different software applications (accounts, ERP, Outlook etc.). CRM allows you to collate all this information in one central location, and thus to possibly see connections you didn’t even know existed.
Another key benefit of CRM is easy customer segmentation, allowing you to see which types of customer are buying which products, and then to group and target them accordingly. All companies know that the easiest sale to make is that of a new product to an existing customer, and using customer segmentation will help you improve your cross-selling figures in no time.
What can CRM do for my employees?
Giving your staff access to greater amounts of information gives them the power to make quicker, better-informed decisions. This can speed up your business processes, make your service more efficient and effective, and consequently impress your customers. And when your staff have all the information they need, they feel empowered and in control.
Also, as we saw in the previous answer, collating the information from your various information “islands” into one central location saves your staff time they would otherwise spend hunting down information.
Are there any benefits to the customers themselves?
Of course. As well as the obvious improvements to your efficiency, service and delivery, CRM allows you to involve your customers in your business. CRM systems facilitate customer satisfaction surveys, online ordering and account management, and online order tracking. Greater levels of customer inclusion in your business processes create collaboration, loyalty and trust.
OK, I’m nearly ready to invest in a CRM system. What areas do I need to consider before I make my choice?
Before you choose your CRM system there are several points you need to consider.
What CRM system does TRG International recommend?
CRM isn’t suitable for all companies. Indeed, smaller companies or companies with just a few key customers can easily get by using the contact management functions of MS Outlook.
However, when a company is clearly in need of a CRM system, we recommend Microsoft Dynamic CRM – in fact, we don’t just recommend it, we use it ourselves! Obviously, being a Microsoft product it is fully compatible with all the other Microsoft applications you’re probably using already, and as a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner you will benefit from our expertise in implementing Microsoft products and training your staff to use them.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Russell is Marketing Director at TRG International, one of Vietnam's leading suppliers of IT business solutions.