When it comes to a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) it is important to understand how you will benefit from using an integrated system before you begin.
With anything as necessary as customer management, understanding what an integrated system can do for you is vital to the on-going growth of your company.
CRM, as the name suggests is about developing and managing the relationships between you and your customers and your potential customers. Developing a CRM strategy within your business is about building a strong foundation upon which you can grow. Understand your customers, dealing head on with their needs and wants; will help you lay down the foundations of a winning environment.
In summary, CRM about understanding your customer preferences and habits so that you can:
- Increase customer retention by building better relationships
- Provide a service that your customers are looking for
- Develop new and better services and products that your customer want to purchase
- Make your staff aware of all the customer interactions; making the customer feel important
By effectively integrating your marketing, sales and customer service functions, your CRM system makes it easier for employees to work together and share vital information.
What role would CRM play with your organisation?
For CRM to be taken seriously it needs to play a specific and defined role with the company. The following is a list of suggested areas where CRM is ideal.
Managing New Sales Opportunities/Projects
Your CRM should help you manage new and on-going opportunities. Storing detailed information about each and every opportunity you are currently working on allows you to accurately predict customers buying needs. As opportunity moves through the sales cycle, your CRM will enable you to plan ahead. One area of concern is losing sales opportunities andtracking how you lost them. In his book The Leaky Funnel, Hugh MacFarlene, talks about managing how opportunities are lost and what to do about it.
Managing Your Relationship with Your Customer
This may seem obvious, but the impact can be massive. Imagine a situation where the person answering a telephone call has immediate access to all of the relevant information about the customer and their account and can deal with the requirements without reference to other departments. Gone should be the days when additonal information is held by other departments and is only accessible through personnel within that department.
Ability to Make Better Decision about Customers and Marketing
Having the single holistic view across all departmental information on a customer provides the information you need to make better decisions. If you have access to every single customer interaction whilst the customer is on the phone or whilst developing a marketing strategy you are empowered to make better decisions having all the facts to hand.
Reducing Duplication for Greater Efficiency
Having a single location for all information, there is no need to re-key information from one system to another. This becomes a major benefit of an integrated CRM system. Implementing automated workflow can reduced repetitive and mundane tasks, freeing you to spend more time on more important work.
Getting Started with an Integrated CRM System
If you are new to CRM and have been tasked with finding a system for your company then the first task is to build a team as men. This basically involves considering the potential benefits on a CRM system and ultimately the payback or ROI.
Start with a Core Team
Putting together a team from different departments will give you the necessary points of view required to understand how CRM could work within your company. A team member from the accounts department will probably have a different view of the customer than the account manager. Likewise, the service department may think the customer is great whilst customer service think they are a pain? You get the picture!
Establish Your Goals
What do you want to achieve? Are you simply looking for a sales force automation system? Or are you looking for something more integrated. The key here is to document what you are hoping to achieve from using CRM within the organisation.
Setting the Base Line
What are you existing processes? How do you currently handle sales opportunities or customer complaints? Is this a good time to review these processes? Either way, document what these processes are as they will become vital later on as you progress through the project. Knowing where you came from is a good way of determining how far you have come.