What is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System?
A customer relationship management (CRM) system is an IT technology that allows you to manage the business relationships you have with your customers, service users and suppliers. Customer relationship management (CRM) is important in running a successful business. The better the relationship with your customers and suppliers, the easier it is to conduct business and generate revenue.
In continuously growing competitive market, it is very much important for a business to share right information to the right person at the right time, otherwise business will lose its opportunities to sale products or services. Customer Relationship Management software is the only solution that can help business to communicate with prospects or customers properly. For any CRM application, primary goal is to enable an organization to understand customers’ need and behavior and provide better quality of service. It helps to retain existing customers and capture new opportunities by building a strong relationship between an organization and customers. CRM can analyze data and generate reports whenever required.
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What does a CRM System do?
CRM is a software or a tool that provides a central place for storing all your customer data and sharing it with other teams within your business. There, you can create records and track the history of all your interactions with the customers, including: phone calls, emails, meetings, presentations, service inquiries, leads, purchasing habits and preferences. As well as tracking contact history, in most CRM systems you can also:
- add notes
- schedule follow-ups
- assign tasks to staff
- generate reports and sales forecasting
Why have a CRM System?
With all your information collated in one place, it becomes easier to understand and anticipate the needs and behaviors of your customers. This, in turns, allows you to:
- Keep customer contact relevant, personal and up-to-date
- Modify your business to better serve your customers
- Identify new leads and sales opportunities
- Win new business
In essence, CRM can help you to recognize the value of its customers and to capitalize on improved customer relations. The better you understand your customers, the more responsive you can be to their needs.
Do I need a CRM System?
Not all businesses need a full CRM system. If you typically have very few leads and no repeat business, the costs of an enterprise level CRM software may outweigh the benefits. Find tips to help you decide if your business needs a CRM system.
Even the best CRM system will need to be properly managed, if you are to make the most of its features. Without good management, significant challenges can arise - such as creating duplicate records and accumulating vast amounts of incomplete, unnecessary or out-of-date data. It’s important to consider the potential drawbacks of CRM systems. Technology can greatly help you to optimize your CRM and make your service more efficient, cost-effective and reliable.
Types of CRM:
There are mainly three types of CRM applications – Operational, Analytical and Collaborative to perform all these activities.
Operational CRM streamlines the business process that includes Sales Force automation, Marketing automation and Service automation. Main purpose of this type of CRM is to generate leads, convert them into contacts, capture all required details and provide service throughout customer life cycle.
Sales Force Automation
Sales automation helps an organization to automate sales process. Main purpose of sales automation is to set standard within organization to acquire new customers and deal with existing customers. It organizes information in such a way that the business can meet customers’ needs and increase sales more efficiently and effectively. It includes various CRM sales modules like lead management, contact management, Quote-to-Order management, sales forecasting.
SFA is the application of technology to manage selling activities. It standardizes a sales cycle and common terminology for sales issues among all the sales employees of a business. It includes the following modules −
Product Configuration − It enables salespersons or customers themselves to automatically design the product and decide the price for a customized product. It is based on if-then-else structure.
Quotation and Proposal Management − The salesperson can generate a quotation of the product prices and proposal for the customer by entering details such as customer name, delivery requirements, product code, number of pieces, etc.
Accounts Management − It manages inward entries, credit and debit amounts for various transactions, and stores transaction details as records.
Sales team automation - An operational CRM can stop sales tasks from piling up or getting forgotten. Automatically assign tasks to your sales team based on customer actions or deal value.
Lead Management − It lets the users qualify leads and assigns them to appropriate salespersons. Lead scoring helps you figure out: Which leads are the highest priority?, Who is most likely to become a customer? and Which leads will spend the most over time?
Contact Management − It is enabled with the features such as customers’ contact details, salespersons’ calendar, and automatic dealing numbers. These all are stored in the form of computerized records. Using this application, a user can communicate effectively with the customers.
Opportunity Management − It lets the users identify and follow leads from lead status to closure and beyond closure.
Main purpose of marketing automation is to find out the best way to offer products and approach potential customers. Major module in marketing automation is campaign management. It enables business to decide effective channel(s) (like emails, phone calls, face to face meeting, ads on social media) to reach up to potential customers.
Marketing automation involves market segmentation, campaigns management, event-based marketing, and promotions. The campaign modules of Marketing Automation enable the marketing force to access customer-related data for designing, executing and evaluating targeted offers, and communications.
What information can you use to automate?
Event-based (trigger) marketing is all about messaging and presenting offers at a particular time. For example, a customer calls the customer care number and asks about the rate of interest for credit card payment. This event is read by CRM as the customer is comparing interest rates and can be diverted to another business for a better deal. In such cases, a customized offer is triggered to retain the customer.
Service automation enables business to retain customers by providing best quality of service and building strong relationship. It includes issue management to fix customers’ problems, customer call management to handle incoming/outgoing calls, service label management to monitor quality of service based on key performance indicators. Service automation involves service level management, resolving issues or cases, and addressing inbound communication. It involves diagnosing and solving the issues about product.
With the help of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, a customer can interact with business computers by entering appropriate menu options. Automatic call routing to the most capable employee can be done. Consumer products are serviced at retail outlets at the first contact. In case of equipment placed on field, the service expert may require product servicing manual, spare parts manual, or any other related support on laptop. That can be availed in service automation.
Who should use an Operational CRM?
You should choose an operational CRM if -
- You spend too much time trying to keep contact information organized
- You need a clear view of each customer’s activity and profile
- You manually assign each task and lead to your sales team
- You want to scale your email marketing efforts and grow your database
- If you want to save time on sales and marketing and keep everything in one place, consider an operational CRM.
Analytical CRM helps top management, marketing, sales and support personnel to determine the better way to serve customers. Data analysis is the main function of this type of CRM application. It analyzes customer data, coming from various touch points, to get better insights about current status of an organization. It helps top management to take better decision, marketing executives to understand the campaign effectiveness, sales executives to increase sales and support personnel to improve quality of support and build strong customer relationship.
Features of Analytical CRM:
- Gather customer’s information, coming from different channels and analyze data in a structured way
- Help organization to set business methodology in Sales, Marketing and Support to improve customer relationship and loyalty
- Improve the CRM system effectiveness and analyze key performance indicators, set by business
The biggest benefit of an analytical CRM? It does the data gathering and analysis for you. Here’s how.
- Data mining. An analytical CRM serves as a data warehouse: it stores your data in one central, organized, easy-to-analyze database. Data mining uses statistical analysis to find patterns and relationships in your data. One common use of an analytical CRM is cluster analysis. With cluster analysis, you can segment your customer list based on: Age, State, Education level, Gender, Marital status, Past purchases and a whole lot more! This lets you target the right people with the right messages. Other common analyses include linear, logistic, and multiple regression. Analytical CRMs do the math for you, so you don’t have to create the world’s most complicated spreadsheet to identify sales trends.
- Cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Analytical CRMs gives you insight into your customers’ behaviour and past purchases. This gives you the perfect setup for cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Which customers want to buy which products? An analytical CRM can help you find patterns in purchase history – so you know exactly which people to target with upsells and cross-sells.
- Buyer persona building. When your CRM gathers and analyzes a new piece of customer data, you can build a more complete view of your customers. Understanding your customers’ wants, needs, and personalities can help you improve your marketing. When you personalize the customer experience with personas, your customers know you understand them. This can make a big difference in your bottom line.
- Sales forecasting. Analyzing data on your company’s past sales trends can help you predict future demand. Sales forecasting makes sure that you aren’t surprised by predictable long term trends.
- Attribution.Analytical CRMs help you figure out which touch points led someone to become a customer. This helps you figure out where your best customers come from – and how to sell to them better. Touch points include viewing or clicking on an ad, visiting your website, and any other interactions a potential customer has with your business.
Who should use an Analytical CRM?
You should consider an analytical CRM if -
- You want to better understand why customers are (or aren’t) buying your products
- You want to gather more data about your target customer
- You want to build customer personas based on data
- You want to figure out which touchpoints drive the most revenue
- You spend too much time poring over spreadsheets — and not enough time selling
- You want to track your sales KPIs
- You want to improve your sales process or strategy based on business intelligence data
Collaborative CRM, sometimes called as Strategic CRM, enables an organization to share customers’ information among various business units like sales team, marketing team, technical and support team. For example, feedback from a support team could be useful for marketing team to approach targeted customers with specific products or services. In real world, each business unit works as an independent group and rarely shares customers’ data with other teams that often causes business losses.
Collaborative CRM helps to unite all groups to aim only one goal – use all information to improve the quality of customer service to gain loyalty and acquire new customers to increase sales.
What are the features and benefits of a collaborative CRM?
- Interaction management. Like an operational CRM, a collaborative CRM helps keep track of each interaction a customer has with your business. Every customer-facing team — sales, support, community management, vendors, and anyone else who so much as sends an email — has access to a log of customer interactions and team notes. Each team has information about your customers. A collaborative CRM helps break down silos and share that information across teams.
- Relationship management. A collaborative CRM helps you manage relationships with your customers. When a new customer comes on board, your sales team shares that customer’s preferences, goals, and any other information on their contact profile. Keep all teams aligned and up to date before they interact with each customer. This gives people a better, more personalized experience across the board.
- Document management. If your team needs access to a contract, technical documentation, or proposal, a collaborative CRM can help. CRMs with document management systems help keep every document from every team organized. You don’t have to search through your desk or pester your finance team to hunt down a pricing agreement — it’s all in one easy-to-navigate place.
Who should use a Collaborative CRM?
You should consider a collaborative CRM if -
- You need to improve communication between departments
- You want to focus on customer retention and loyalty
- Your customers often have specific preferences and needs
- You need to share customer information with vendors
- You want to organize and align customer-focused efforts across your business
Different types of CRM applications have different features and advantages. So before implementing CRM system, it is very much important for a business to decide future goal and strategy. Make sure that your new CRM checks these boxes:
- Integrates with your existing technology
- Gives you live, talk-to-actual-humans support
- Makes it easy to migrate contacts and automations from a previous CRM (if you have one)
- Creates less day-to-day work for your team — not more
With all of the above met — no matter which type you choose — you’ll be well on your way to CRM bliss. Let us know about the CRM you use in the comments section below.