Technology solutions for business practices do not usually involve reinventing the wheel, so to speak, but adding increased functionality and efficiency to existing processes to improve speed, accuracy and user experience.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a valuable tool that allows businesses to communicate with and serve the needs of their clientele. The purpose of CRM is to engage customers and create meaningful relationships with them, facilitating lasting dialogues that improve your understanding of the customer base and increase their loyalty to your business' services.
CRM systems can track and measure marketing campaigns and perform detailed customer analysis. They are also expanding beyond the core sales and marketing areas to incorporate support and finance data that gives users a complete view of individual customers and the wider customer base.
In addition to developing and maintaining client relationships, CRM systems have three powerful functions in sales force automation, data warehousing and opportunity management. Sales force automation can implement sales analysis, automate tracking of client account histories, and coordinate sales, marketing, call centers and retail outlets. Data warehousing allows users to aggregate transaction information, follow trends and determine value and KPI by merging the CRM system with existing information storage systems. Opportunity management helps companies manage unpredictable growth and demand through a forecasting model that integrates sales history with sales projections.
A strong CRM system accurately captures key data from customers and collects it in a single, accessible location. It will also generate alerts and notifications that can be sent to customers quickly and easily.
A strong CRM system will also open doors to new marketing opportunities, collect customer data and, most importantly, leverage that knowledge such that it results in measurable sales results. Essentially, a CRM system should increase customer satisfaction while decreasing the number of actions required to manage customer relations. However, a deficient or improperly implemented CRM system can end up doubling the number of actions, resulting in more time spent to achieve less results.
As mentioned before, integration is key. A CRM solution must be able to assimilate seamlessly with your business' existing system, or at least be capable of exporting data from that other system. Otherwise, you'll find yourself working from scratch with a long road ahead of you.
The best CRM systems will automatically show trends and display customer analysis data and graphs. Having unwanted fields and unnecessary features in a CRM system often causes more harm than good, slowing down page-load time and increasing the difficulty of locating the features you want to use. You should keep your CRM simple and only implement features that you need.
Choosing the right CRM solution for your business depends mostly on your business' size. A small business, for example, usually does best with a customized solution that meets their smaller scope without adding extraneous features that bog the system down. A medium-sized business might want to use an existing CRM framework with some minor customizations, while large businesses are usually best-served by a major CRM software like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics - these large-scale solutions are designed with big businesses in mind and require minimal customization.
Benefits of implementing the right CRM system for your business include increased customer loyalty and the security of future revenue. With CRM, companies are able to customize their services to each customer, enhancing the perceived quality of products and services. They also enable users to improve reliability by creating a direct channel between the customers and the service that facilitates timely responses and deliveries.
An effective CRM solution should inevitably increase sales without increasing overhead. If you find your CRM solution adds complexity without any benefits, you may be using a system that is not right for your business. But don't give up. The right CRM solution exists for every business - it may take some tweaking and customization, but the benefits it can provide far outweigh the time it takes to calibrate a CRM system to fit your needs.
There's no better solution to organize, automate and synchronize your business' sales, marketing, customer service and technical support through a single, easy-to-use technology. When you implement the right CRM for your business, you simultaneously save time and resources while increasing your customer base and ROI.
Social Media Defining CRM Landscape
With enhanced participation of marketing through the social media platforms, there has been an increase in technology related spending by marketing departments in an organization. A large part of this has to do with implementing customer relationship management (CRM) systems that incorporate various social media platforms for marketing communication. This can be termed as Social CRM.
Small business and start-ups with limited technology budgets have greatly benefitted from this. Social CRM is now being actively implemented by all organizations, big or small. It is being used to incorporate marketing strategies that are the best, current, affordable, and prone to limited errors. This is a paradigm shift from the regular CRM systems (with a series of errors) that have been implemented so far.
The traditional CRM system has made a tremendous contribution to businesses in its own way. It has assisted in managing and developing customer relationships, lowering cost, enhancing profitability, offering tailor-made customized product and service offerings, handling customer complaints, queries, and applying analytics to customer data for creating a win-win situation for businesses and customers. However, there have been drawbacks too.
The above mentioned benefits pertain to an accurately implemented CRM strategy. A poorly implemented CRM program is one that aims to manoeuvre customer thoughts by being overtly personal. Another example is a CRM that aims to reduce operating costs by limiting human connect and replaces a human with an answering machine who never really solves a complaint. Cases where user analytics on buying behavior (in case of an e-commerce website) are incorrectly applied to make inappropriate suggestions to customers, or have a high level of promotional activity aimed at customer conversion, have instead of managing a relationship with customers actually annoyed them to the level of even severing a relationship.
Changed Dimension of CRM
Today, customers demand a relationship that is slow paced, insightful, and responsive. Customers appreciate a relationship that develops over time and is based on trust. Information analytics should be used wisely. Focussing too much on what the customer bought prevents concentration on the actual needs for making the purchase. Treating a customer as a data source prevents a marketer from being empathetic, responsive and perceptive of a customer's actual requirements - the very issue with a traditionally executed CRM.
Social CRM is a complementary addition to traditional CRM packages. More than 74 percent of online American adults are using social networking websites (as per Pew Internet Project's research as of Jan, 2014) to exchange views on brands, customer service, and personal experiences with businesses. Thus, there has been an increase in power for the hands of consumers in regard to the business. The coverage and power of social media has added a special element to CRM which not only covers the customers but also the companies.
How can businesses leverage this enhanced presence of social media to their advantage? The answer is: by relying on the power of two-way, healthy communication that involves the customer and the company. Communication is more of listening than talking. Listen to your customers more and respond gently instead of solely focussing on pitching. Making use of Social CRM tools can open the gates of two-way communication. The faster an organization incorporates social CRM tools to its existing CRM strategy, the more effective its customer relationship strategy will become.
With a changed landscape in CRM with enhanced reach and scope of social media as a platform to communicate across markets, time zones, and country borders, CRM cannot remain single sided. Companies can manage their relationship with current, new, and even untapped customers through the powerful social CRM tools. CRM can enhance the level of trust and focus on effective brand building strategies in the market. The fine balance of relationship can be restored and re-invented through social CRM. Businesses that are proactive understand that if they concentrate on the equilibrium of relationships, customers practically manage themselves.
A Social CRM service widely being used by organizations is the CRM package by Comnez, whose industry wise social CRM tools enable businesses to streamline their work processes. Comnez professionals have several years of experience developing and implementing web based systems to address the different areas of customer relationship management. They have successfully implemented customized CRM solutions for organizations in the Manufacturing, Software, Insurance & Media/Advertising industries. They can easily demonstrate the value they have added to clients by streamlining their work process through CRM systems.
Supriya is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After her post graduation from LBS, New Delhi, she worked as a research analyst for 4 years before foraying into copywritting and blogging for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and academic research organizations. She started freelancing in 2010 and joined Comnez in 2013. Follow Supriya on Twitter @lalasupriya.