If you have customers, then you will know that the relationship that you and your team have with them is perhaps the single most important factor for success in your business. While you may not realise it, you already “do” Customer Relationship Management (CRM), because every time you send an email, hold a phone call, schedule a follow up, attend a meeting, send a quote or proposal, you are already managing this relationship.
To truly appreciate the difference that CRM can make to your business, it is first helpful to understand what CRM actually means…
CRM is a strategy for making sure that every time one of your team engages with a customer or prospect that the interaction always enhances the existing relationship. You could argue about how to measure the quality of that engagement in any particular industry, but now more than ever, the customer relationship remains the key to profitability and I believe that this definition gets us to the heart of the matter:
“Engage Better, Earn More”
As businesses grow, the ability to relate personally to each and every prospect and customer becomes a real challenge. This is because there are many more people to keep track of and just dealing with the day-to-day issues of running a busy department or the demands of managing a team of employees steals time away from what you should be doing – which is talking to your customers and trying to understand how you can best meet their needs.
Over time, a business will develop mechanisms to cope with these problems. For instance, new staff members are often taken on to help, but they will all need direction and management. A plethora of spreadsheets can often then get created, designed to help one person achieve one specific task. But these grow in complexity and keeping the information up-to-date across numerous spreadsheets takes time. Different versions are stored in different departments and on different PCs. The result? Mistakes happen because the information is out of date, because person ‘A’ doesn’t know that person ‘B’ is giving the customer a different story, and because hand-over from one person’s area of responsibility to another’s, can easily break down. In short, there is no single source of the truth. Customer information starts to feel “locked up” in the email inbox and resolving questions often means trawling through mountains of email history.
Being out of the office means that you’re out-of-touch with what’s going on “back at the ranch”. Keeping on top of anything means holding more and more meetings – and in order to make the meetings themselves productive, people are spending long periods “pulling together” information from various sources so that you can discuss things that are fundamentally basic, like: “how much business will we do this quarter?”
The biggest problem with all of this is that all of the “work” above is just work for work’s sake. It’s not selling, it’s not resolving customer problems, it’s not developing your product, identifying new markets or finding new customers. And it is most definitely not making the customer feel special and valued. It’s just sapping energy away from growing your business. Believe me; it does not have to be this way!
A better way
Taking a formal approach to CRM can help you to get your business focus back on to the customer. It does this in many ways:
1) It stores everything related to your customers in one central, well organised, place. Now that there is just one common copy of the customer’s name, address, contact details, marketing preferences, marketing history, enquiry, purchase and customer issue history you stand a much better chance of it being accurate and up to date. And it’s suddenly so much easier just to find information.
2) It facilitates collaboration. Different members of your team can share and assign information. You can opt to “follow” key accounts or deals and stay up to date with what is happening on them. You can share key documents – such as the proposal or contract.
3) It enables end-to-end processes to be implemented and followed, aligning marketing, sales and customer service. The results of that marketing drive are fed to the sales team, who can maximise each and every opportunity, coordinating and collaborating on the best approach to each and every deal. Once the deal is done, you can prioritise and track fulfilment and service needs. Regular tasks can be automated, scheduled and assigned. Customer communication can be automated.
4) It allows you to report, measure, track and forecast. You gain visibility into your customer base and valuable insight. You can identify customer traits, trends and cross-sell opportunity. Measure the value of the clients by sector or by product, see which marketing streams provide the greatest return and compare performance of different team members. Dashboard metrics pull the information together for you. Meetings are shorter, take less preparation and are more productive too.
5) And finally, CRM allows you to do all of the above, wherever you are – in the office, on the road, or even when working from home.
The bottom line
CRM might not solve every challenge your business faces. But it can make a real difference to your bottom line. So, what could your business look like if you implemented a sound CRM strategy? The Aberdeen Group conducted in-depth research into this area. They found that, without a doubt, CRM can produce dramatic results. Here’s a summary from their report:
|Metric||Do not use CRM||Do use CRM||Potential Improvement|
|Resolving customer issues in one call||20%||45%||125%|
|Sales Team delivering to Quota||40%||56%||40%|
|Individual Reps delivering to Quota||36%||51%||41%|
|Inbound contacts that result in a sale||15%||24%||60%|
|Cost per customer contact||$16.50||$9.25||(44%)|
As you can see, in every single metric, the companies that use CRM do considerably better than those companies that did not. On average, customer retention was increased, sales were increased, forecasting was more accurate and the cost of servicing customers was reduced.
The evidence for the benefits for CRM are clear. So now is the time to ask yourself:
The answer to the above questions is ‘fantastic’.
But, most importantly, with CRM you would be free to focus again on valuing the relationship you have with your customers and, in turn, having your customers place more value on you and your business too. Can you afford to delay any longer?
Written by Nick Holt
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