So what is CRM?
Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is a vital component of modern day business management, which focuses on all aspects of a company’s relationship with both existing and potential customers. The marketing strengths of CRM.Put simply, it involves shifting the focus of a business away from the product and towards the customer. CRM software is utilised to help companies organise and automate aspects of the business related to this, including sales, marketing, technical support and customer service.
When an organisation implements a CRM system, they generally aim to achieve the following:
1. Gain a better understanding of existing customers, their needs and their expectations.
2. Retain those customers by creating a better customer service strategy.
3. Attract new customers and gain new clients or contracts.
4. Reduce the costs associated with customer management, complaints, etc.
5. Increase the overall profitability of the business.
Establishing a comprehensive CRM system is an aspect of management, which is often overlooked by smaller businesses and sole traders. However, the benefits for these businesses are as significant as they are with large corporations, thereby making the use of CRM advantageous for almost all businesses.
It’s all about the Customer Service!
The use of CRM in developing customer service centres on a basic principle: companies require customers in order to make a profit and survive. Meanwhile customers want good service, a high quality product and for that product to be available at an acceptable price. Therefore, it is mutually beneficial for both parties that the relationship between the business and its customers is as good as it possibly can be.
Customer Relationship Management software can be used to improve customer service in a number of ways. For example, call centres will often implement CRM software into their basic operations, making it easier for staff members to direct callers to the appropriate department, while other companies will make use of CRM software and syncronise it with their own calendar, in order to allocate appointment times more easily.
Another popular means of utilising CRM software for customer service reasons is through the use of a loyalty reward scheme. In this way, customers who either return regularly, or spend large amounts of money, can be monitored over a period of time via the software and subsequently rewarded. This reward for customer loyalty helps to ensure they continue their relationship with the business, and as they have previously demonstrated their willingness to spend money, this is the exact type of customer the business needs to keep.
Moreover, Customer Relationship Management can play a significant role in an organisation’s attempts to market, or remarket, their products or services. A CRM system set up for marketing purposes will look to draw from information fed into the customer database and this information can be gained from a variety of different means, including emails, telephone conversations, direct mail, website hits, etc.
In conjunction with the information gathered by their CRM software system, many businesses also pay particular attention to their interaction with customers through social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, which can make it even easier to identify specific customer trends.
Once these trends have been identified, a business will be able to gain a far clearer understanding of their customer base, its demands and its expectations. By utilising this information, a company can then cater its future marketing strategies to satisfy their demand and make important decisions regarding which products or services they supply.
Choosing the Right CRM Solution for your business.
For managers looking to introduce CRM to their business, there are a wide range of software solutions available. The individual software chosen by a business may depend on the nature of their organisation, the budget they have for purchasing the software and the resources they have at their disposal in terms of training staff members to make use of the new system.
CRMSharePoint.co.uk is a Customer Relationship Management application designed for the Microsoft SharePoint platform. Advantages include its potential for customisation, its affordability and the support on offer in terms of implementing the system, which make it well-suited to small business owners.
Salesforce.com is a cloud-based, on demand CRM provider and one of the most popular choices, partly due to the fact that it can be accessed anywhere with internet access. Their systems are powerful and suitable for businesses of all sizes and is particularly effective for tracking marketing and customer service information.
NetSuite CRM+ is another popular choice, allowing organisations to assess overall performance and generate forecasts of future sales. The software also includes features designed to improve aspects of the business’ marketing and customer service.
To my knowledge, all of the above can be used with DaaS (desktop as a service)
In almost all cases, small businesses can benefit from the decision to utilise Customer Relationship Management. The benefits derived from implementing a CRM system include customer service and marketing, both of which are crucial for a business wishing to retain existing customers and gain new ones.
However, studies into the adoption of CRM have found that many businesses utilise CRM on a fragmented basis. Indeed, in 2007, a survey of UK businesses found that 43% were using less than half of their system’s full capabilities, due to staff training issues.
Therefore, it is important to note that a focus needs to be placed on finding knowledgeable ICT advisors, regardless of which software package is chosen, and making sure staff gain an in-depth understanding of the software.