09 Jan What is a CRM?
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform is a tool designed to automate tasks related to:
• Understanding customer needs
• Executing or delivering the required goods and services to customers
• Anticipating or predicting future needs
• Responding to customer needs using targeted and scalable communications
• Integrating key business operations with relevant customer communication
These specialized software applications help a company or small business to track and organize essential data about their existing customer base. A CRM solution can also assess other aspects of your operations and help you uncover weaknesses and opportunities to improve business practices and sales and marketing practices using the data collected.
The aim of a CRM is to create a clear channel of timely communication with customers so you can develop long term, profitable business relationships.
CRM for Your Business
Whatever CRM platform you choose, your Customer Relationship Management software will play a critical role in helping your sales team meet and exceed customer expectations. A CRM program analyzes customer behavior, stores customer information, and your responses to customer inquiries. These insights can be used to modify and improve business operations.
Think of your CRM software as a tool to help you truly understand opportunities where you can improve customer relations. Of course, all this data analytics takes processing power. You may consider a software as a service (SaaS) model for your CRM or consider other cloud offerings. The right cloud service provider can support your CRM using a secure cloud infrastructure built on the reliable Microsoft Azure platform.
Benefits of CRM Software
Using CRM software to support your business operations can lead to an increase in profitability by:
• Demonstrating which products and services best match customers’ needs — and eliminating product lines that don’t contribute to the “bottom line”
• Providing repeatable, scalable, and reliable customer service
• Having clear data points to make cross-selling and up-selling products and services more effective
Giving your sales staff a powerful CRM gives them the ability to shorten the sales cycle, close deals faster, increase retention for existing customers, and uncover potential for new business more efficiently. Your CRM can also save time by simplifying lead generation, marketing efforts, and sales processes.
CRMs can track customers’ interests, and this can assist organizations in modifying their products and services to be more responsive to customers’ existing and future needs.
If you find social media, emails, phone calls or other touch points valuable in the customer journey, you can record them for future reference in the CRM. These detailed customer records will allow you to automate various workflows and contact management to create useful tasks, calendars, and alerts to deliver higher level customer service.
From a management perspective, a CRM can be a valuable tool to measure performance and productivity based on the insights and interactions that are logged in the system.
Key Elements to Consider When Choosing a CRM
At its most fundamental, CRM software compiles customer data and stores contact information in a single database. Centralized information helps key decision-makers modify or develop business plans based on the findings. A good CRM also simplifies finding key data and makes report generation effortless.
As business needs evolve, more functionalities have been added to CRM systems. Each new addition is designed to make the CRM more useful and expands the reach to other key places where you may interact with customers:
Analytics: The analytics feature of a CRM provides a platform to build customer satisfaction using real data from real customers rather than relying on “best guesses”. Running your CRM on a cloud-based infrastructure means you have the processing power needed to handle analytical tasks without strain on your operating system. Your CRM can also inform you for setting realistic business goals.
Marketing Automation: Many modern CRM tools offer marketing automation capabilities designed to automate repeated tasks and improve outbound marketing efforts. Marketing automation tools can implement relevant touches at salient points in the customer journey. Based on customer behavior you can trigger email sequences or leave messages with a higher likelihood of converting a prospect into a customer.
Salesforce Automation: Identify critical customer interactions and automate related business functions at key intervals in the sales cycle. This automation means never going cold on prospective leads or missing opportunities to influence their buying decisions. Ultimately, salesforce automations increase your ability to close more sales with less hands-on time. Salesforce automations also add new leads and prospects to your pipeline smoothing out incoming revenue.
Contact Center Automation: Contact Center Automation streamlines the more tedious aspects of contact center work. You can develop resources that assist customers with problem-solving, support, or information gathering. These automations bring down call times and increase the productivity output in customer service processes.
Geolocation Technology: Location-based service functions can assist companies in making geographically relevant marketing campaigns or product offerings. When you can map a customer’s physical locations you can also identify potential sales prospects based on their geolocation.
Workflow Automation: Streamline repetitive tasks using your CRM. When you allow automation to handle low-level, but necessary tasks, you free up humans to handle more high value tasks.
Lead Management: Lead Management is guided by the CRM system. Everyone will be able to see at a glance where leads and prospects are in the sales cycle. Lead management can also help identify areas of weakness in the sales cycle of an organization so that changes can be made to business operations to increase conversion rates and revenue.
Some CRMs also have AI (artificial intelligence) that can more quickly identify patterns emerging in your data. Some of the most popular enterprise CRM platforms include this powerful tool.
Depending on your business size and needs, you might also want to consider a CRM that can handle human resource management information and tasks. A Human Resources (HR) interface allows the HR department to regulate workforce activities, databases, and automate tasks.
Next up in the Insights Guide: Understanding the Different Types of CRM
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