There are many compelling reasons for adding a CRM to your suite of software. In this article we will cover some of the top CRM strategies that will increase your efficiency, profitability and improve the experiences of your customers.
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In short here are the ways that an advanced CRM will drive sales and enhance customer experience:
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, a combination of software solutions married to a values approach for how you interact and build a relationship with your customers.
Sales improvement with CRM
A CRM system is not just a technical response to a problem. It is a data approach that enables you to be responsive to customer preferences and requests, maintain strong relationships with customers and keep a record of every interaction you have when them.
A CRM helps you to:
A CRM will bring these benefits:
Launching a CRM where there has not been a cohesive, overarching customer or sales database is quite a big project, and one best underpinned by a robust CRM strategy. There is much more strategy behind it than simple selecting and installing another software solution.
The stages for a successful implementation can be mapped from:
One effective way to prepare for the consideration and implementation of a CRM is to prepare a business case, to cover all of the relevant elements you need to consider before you embark on installing a CRM.
A business case for CRM should be framed around the following content:
Once you have honed in on your preferred solutions, it’s time to take a test drive. There are many vendors out there who will be willing to offer you a demonstration of their solution, and in most cases a free trail. Taking advantage of these personalised demos and trials give you the chance to assess how well the product matches your requirements, and the opportunity to explore how the system will feel for your employees.
CRM is not exactly equivalent to customer experience. Just because you have a data system that contains comprehensive records about customer interactions, comments and feedback, you aren’t automatically providing outstanding customer experience. Sure, having access to data can really help inform business decisions. But you do have to take some actions to ensure your CRM is working well for you, and creating that exemplary customer experience that you are after.
The CRM is what you provide, and is an enabler for quality. The customer experience is about the customer and their perceptions about your brand. Creating meaningful relationships with your customers is reliant on how well your CRM is working to collect, present and process data about each person.
Customer experience programs provide an overarching model for strengthening relationships with customers, being open to feedback and then responding with improvements or enhancements to the way you deliver customer service. These changes could be either people based (training, process) or technology based (solutions and systems). There is strong evidence to suggest that buyers will pay more for interactions that are accompanied with outstanding customer experience, and that a person’s experience with your brand is ultimately even more of a decision maker for future spend than price.
A CRM works by handling, interpreting and analysing customer data. It enables you to record information about customer contacts, preferences and transactions. Data from these interactions shows you what is working, and where there are bottlenecks or duplications that are almost certainly going to cause frustrations for your customers. These insights enable you to improve processes at a strategic level; benefiting your overall operations and each individual customer. CRM systems can also collect information that makes it much easier to personalise your interactions. Once you have collated all of this data, the next important consideration is how you are going to use it!
So the CRM is not just about providing excellent individual service, one customer at a time, although that is part of it. By extension, you can use a CRM to help you drill down into data to tailor your marketing and messages. CRM data enables you to find commonalities between groups of customers in a process called segmentation. With segmentation, you can connect with groups of customers on topics that matter to them. Date of birth data from a CRM enables you to send birthday greetings with a special coupon or code. Data related to previous purchases enables you to connect with customers about new products that will be of interest to them.
CRM can benefit businesses big and small and they suit the complexity of our contemporary business management and operation models. Who doesn’t want to offer improved services to their customers? Furthermore, CRMs work really well for businesses that are part of a franchise or smaller braches of a business that are operated or overseen by other organisations, boards or business entities.
In these cases for example, websites or social media accounts may be managed completely externally from individual branches. Being able to offer customers a clear and consistent path through these different profiles is a necessity. Yet it can seem hard to achieve when employees are working in different states or even different countries. Off-shore service provision requires robust systems to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Assessing and reflecting on examples of poor levels of customer service and experience can give us a lot of insight into the work we expect a CRM to do for our business. CRM systems can offer a lot of benefits for hotel and hospitality venues, especially those with multiple venues, locations and even those managed internationally. Many large hotel chains are recognising how important it is to be able to offer their guests a consistent and predictable experience whichever state their accommodation might be located in.
Accommodation services are also one of the top parts of their experience that travellers like to comment on. Any issues with the booking or checking in process, any disputes or complaints that are not handled up to their expectations, fired up guest often take to social media to describe being disgruntled with their travel experience.
A CRM system can make a big difference for businesses in the hospitality sector, housing accurate records that anyone across the hotel network can access at any time. Industry-specific CRMs offer lead follow up for customers viewing webpages, personalised check in experiences and automated contacts through the duration of a stay.
We have probably all had experiences of businesses that aren’t integrated. When you contact a telecommunications company to arrange a change of address and explain the issues you are experiencing with connection at your new property, you don’t want to have to repeat the whole sorry story to both billing and helpdesk. Customers today do not react kindly to having to explain the same issue or grievance to multiple people, just to have a situation rectified.
Other examples of situations which cause irritation and frustration include:
All of these kinds of holds up and service fails do nothing but frustrate and irritate your customer. And you can bet they will tell anyone who will listen about the issues they encountered. These kinds of word of mouth exchanges can damage your brand and reputation.
Making sure your selected CRM integrates with other applications is a key consideration. You don’t want to just be adding another system to an already complex and multi-layered network of systems. One essential question to ask is how your potential CRM will integrate with, or reduce the need for other systems that are used. These could be systems that are organisation-wide, such as Office 365 or G-Suite.
It also includes solutions that are public facing, such as websites, booking tools and social media. Furthermore, you need to think about integration through systems which are only used by certain sections of the business, such as HR, accounting and sales, warehousing and supply. Take the time to do an existing systems audit so you have a clear picture of how far and wide your CRM needs to reach.
Integrating multiple systems through a CRM is usually done with an iPaaS. Integration can be easily done if your existing systems have a suitable interface (API) for the CRM to access, or there is an appropriate connector available. If your existing systems don’t have what they need to enable integration, then the assistance of an external developer would likely be required.