Customer Relationship Management is a system used to improve the relationship with customers by collecting and organizing relevant data.
Over time, CRM systems have emerged as the primary tools used to coordinate sales strategy, especially in prospecting new customers. This contradicts the essence of CRM since, after all, the relationship with a customer never ends with the first sale. Customer relationships are to be continually nurtured for effective business growth.
No company can exist without customers (or clients); business is predicated on delivering satisfaction to customers. Therefore, fostering a healthier customer relationship should be the connecting factor of all layers and divisions of an organization’s structure.
Effective customer relationship management spans marketing, operations, product development, etc. including, of course, sales.
CRM and Customer Intelligence
The broadest use case for CRM tools is for customer intelligence. Small business CRMs are holistic tools to analyze customer data, make better decisions, and strengthen existing relationships with customers.
There has been an increase in the adoption of CRM solutions over the past years. Particularly, many more businesses have had to rely on CRM to maintain seamless operations amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Yet, many business leaders have failed to explore the full range of possibilities that CRM solutions offer.
Future trends of CRM adoption indicate increased deployment among SMEs in particular (see the chart below).
To facilitate real business growth from this increased adoption of CRM solutions, companies must center customer intelligence in their overall business strategy, making it the nexus between every other business unit.
CRM in Social Media (Social CRM)
Social media has become a major touchpoint in the customer journey. Particularly, many customers now relate with businesses on social media. Excluding social media from your main CRM strategy would prevent your business from making any meaningful connection with a huge fraction of your customer base.
In the age of customer-centric marketing (which is justified because personalized connections are better than generic interactions), forward-thinking companies are focused on designing well-optimized omnichannel (not just multichannel, the difference is integration) experiences for their customers.
Customers want a seamless experience with a business regardless of the channel of communication. A CRM tool can be used to integrate all customer data into one platform in order to fulfill this need.
Implementing social CRM also strengthens social listening. By monitoring mentions of your brand online, you are extracting valuable information about how your brand perception is shaped by the public reputation of the business on social media. It matters because it helps you learn a lot about your audience and industry.
CRM for Marketing
CRM data comes in very handy in organizing marketing campaigns. Segmenting your customer database via CRM, for one, can help in developing a better personalized and well-tailored approach to marketing. After all, the first step to building a successful marketing campaign is understanding the audience you are trying to reach.
With contextualized data from your CRM solution, you can build comprehensive customer profiles and gain an in-depth understanding of your customers, as well as their preferences, attitudes, pain points, and other useful characteristics.
CRM is useful in planning marketing campaigns, in terms of setting targets and KPIs. But it is also useful in measuring the impact of an ongoing campaign. Use data collected from customer interaction with your business online to optimize the customer experience.
CRM for Customer Service
Having the appropriate background information on a customer is very useful in understanding and addressing the customer’s pain points. The real benefit of this is how it optimizes cross-functional communications.
Essentially, a CRM solution unifies all the touchpoint data and history for each customer such that, whether you are communicating to the same customer via email on the phone, they get personalized support.
Ultimately, logging interactions with customers helps you to learn ways to improve the customer experience when they seek support. As such, you can even anticipate issues before a complaint is made and respond to priority issues faster. Further, with a CRM, it is easy to generate detailed reports from these interactions in order to extract valuable insights for improved decision-making.
To achieve the best functionality with a CRM solution, it should not be adopted as a separate tool, but integrated with other business tools as well as modern technologies including business intelligence, analytics, and artificial intelligence. A standalone implementation of CRM would most likely limit the organization’s growth potential.
Another benefit of integrating CRM with other tools and technologies within the organizational structure is that it increases cross-functional collaboration via real-time data sharing between teams, particularly customer-facing units.
All the use cases discussed above are related to customer-facing roles. But customer information is just as important for other units that do not have to directly relate with the customer.
Product development, for instance. Your developers and designers would most probably never have to relate directly with customers. However, the data from CRM would still be useful to build and design a product that meets customer needs. Likewise, in financial analysis, having valuable customer data at hand helps you to make smarter financial decisions and make investments that ultimately ensure greater customer satisfaction.
Overall, a company that effectively harnesses CRM is set to scale efficiently. Deeper customer relationships translate to greater loyalty and increased customer retention, which in turn increases profitability.
Therefore it’s all laid out. CRM is beyond sales acquisition. It is an effective tool for business growth when used properly. If you are using CRM for just sales management, you are most likely leaving potential profits and growth on the table.
Customer Relationship Management is the business of the whole company and not just one unit or team. To fuel your growth, start looking to innovative uses of CRM solutions beyond sales, with this article as a starting point. Essentially, what you get from a CRM solution is data. But raw data is useless if you don’t explore its full range of potentials. What you make of the data is up to you.
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