Here’s what CRM really is
Businesses often use CRM (Customer Relationship Management) technology without a clear understanding of why they should use it, or even what it is. As a CRM professional, I often have trouble explaining to people what it is I do. My mother-in-law, in her mid-60s, understood when I told her, “Imagine if your Rolodex automatically kept track of every contact and every meeting you had with the people you dealt with in your business, and let you search within all that information for things you need to know” (she’s a smart lady, but she’s not a data professional). Since we at Caldere are professionals who use, maintain, and administer data, and you probably are too if you are reading this blog, we need to understand CRM a bit more technically.
Salesforce Europe provide a good starting definition:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategy for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with your customers and potential customers.
On a deeper level, Bain & Company think of CRM as a process that companies use to understand and react to their customers:
CRM technology allows firms to collect and manage large amounts of customer data and then carry out strategies based on that information. Data collected through focused CRM initiatives help firms solve specific problems throughout their customer relationship cycle—the chain of activities from the initial targeting of customers to efforts to win them back for more.
Clearly CRM technology is something that modern businesses need if they are to keep up with the information they gather daily about the people who are most important to them.
Some top reasons why businesses need CRM
6. Your paper “solutions” aren’t good enough anymore
Are you one of those people who has to have the latest TV and mobile phone, and perhaps a cool laptop to take to the coffee shop, but in your office you make do with collections of business cards and 3-ring binders full of notes? CRM technology is as critical to business as Google is to using the Internet. You can’t tap a phrase into a file cabinet and have it arrange your information so that it shows just the contacts who meet your criteria. You can send a paper marketing mailout, but you won’t get the attention of people who check their email twenty times for every time they check their post.
5. You don’t need to worry that you’ll lose your data
Office administrators know how vulnerable your paper notes are to being mislaid, misorganised, or discarded. IT professionals, similarly, know how vulnerable data is even when it is stored on your laptop or desktop, or on your office server. Servers can crash. Hard drives can fail. But a good CRM solution, administered by a good CRM provider, will be structured in a secure manner on servers that are maintained and backed up regularly. The advent of cloud computing brings you data anywhere and anytime, so long as you can access a connection. No matter where you are in the world, the critical customer data you gather is immediately accessible to your colleagues in every other location where you do business.
4. Your information is centralised
Similarly, customer and client information does nobody any good when it is locked into separate laptops accessible only to single users. Emails are usually stored in a single system, but are invisible to other people who work with the same clients. Communicating through a CRM system allows everyone in your organisation to see and keep up with what is happening to your relationship with a given client. Nobody has to look unprepared or uninformed because they missed the latest discussion or a critical meeting. Every piece of information can be made available to everyone who needs to know.
3. You can understand the past
There’s really no good way to look back into the history of your relationship with a customer without using CRM technology. If you want to look back in time and understand how things have progressed, you need a solution that tracks all of their communication… their sales history… their feedback… their issues. You’ll be able to save clients by knowing how to anticipate their needs and forestall common problems. You’ll be able to create marketing materials based on purchase and communication history.
2. You can coordinate the present
Using what you’ve learned about the relationship you have with your customers, you can make your business into a responsive and confident authority. You can design programs that give your customers the right kind of customer service experience. You can get sales and support staff talking to each other so that they can work together to give customers what they only guess they’ll need next. You can use customer feedback to tell you where your resources are best spent. You can use past sales history to suggest what potential maintenance issues a customer might be facing. In addition, you can plan your time using built-in calendar and task management so that every process is done right the first time.
1. You can foretell the future
Once you understand the past, and know what to do in the present, you will have a reasonably good idea what your efforts now will give rise to in the future. Things that used to come as complete surprises will be explainable, and you can plan for them, when you know why and how they happened. The better your data is in your history, and the better you track your campaigns, projects, and events, the more you can know about what is likely to happen in days, weeks, or months… with respect to individual clients, client companies, locations, or entire markets with which you have a relationship. New technology such as Business Intelligence (BI) can give you even more detailed predictive analysis to make the future much easier to plan for and to help you ask the right questions of your valuable data.
How can my company get more out of CRM?
Every company has some sort of customer relationship management system, even if it’s just a few accounts held in the CEO’s memory. Caldere, experts in CRM technology, can help you evaluate your current system and show you ways to better organise your data so it is more transparent and accessible. Effective, powerful solutions are available for every type of organisation. No organisation can afford to fall behind when it comes to managing their relationships with their customers. Contact us for a meeting and demonstration so we can show you what the current state of the technology is, and find the best solution for your needs.