What is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System? Well, as the name suggests, it is a software system to help you manage your relationships with your potential and existing customers.
Done properly, it can revolutionise your business, make processes more effective and efficient and really contribute to your success and growth. Done badly, it can be a distraction, cause problems with business processes and contribute to an overload of poor quality data.
The benefits of a CRM are most easily demonstrated with some simple examples of how they can improve the way your business operates.
You run a small business and both you and your partner talk to customers but neither of you know who has talked to which customers and what has been said.
Solution – making simple notes on the against contacts on the CRM acts as a record of conversations and who has said what.
A pet boarding business owner has lots of customers who regularly have their pets stay. Before a CRM was in place, customer records are not kept centrally and it is difficult to identify customers by the services they are using.
Solution – by ‘tagging' customers on the CRM, it is now a simple 10 minute job to send out an e-mail offer or reminder for people to book or a special promotion for early bookings before the holiday season.
A consultant takes on clients and has a monthly review with his new clients for the first six months. Before, it was a matter of writing it in the diary, setting up task reminders and making phone calls.
Solution – With ‘action sets' or ‘automations' (a common CRM feature), when a new client is taken on, a single click can set up the six task reminders in the calendar, schedule the relevant standard e-mails to the client and the consultant.
This is known as ‘workflow automation' – done properly, a CRM can act like an extra member of admin staff sending out e-mails, reminders and setting up calendar tasks automatically.
CRM is not just technology but a way of thinking and running your business.
When you implement a CRM system, you may need to re-think the business processes. People may need to change their work pattern to make the system work; this can be a challenge and you may need a strategy to motivate staff and generate a positive attitude to this at every level.
Many people still look at CRM as only a sales tool but it can support every function within the business from finance and customer service to marketing and sales.
The power of a CRM system comes from every department within the organisation ‘feeding' the system so that you can generate valuable information and insights into your customers and potential customers.
- Better information means better decisions
- Improved efficiency / staff time-savings
- Better information means better marketing, more leads of higher quality and better customer service.
- Access to information on ‘sales pipelines'
- Provides automation opportunities within the organisation – both marketing automation (eg automated e-mail marketing campaigns) and automated workflows (such as task allocation / reminders)
- Increases customer satisfaction / reduces customer churn rate
These are some of the reasons that CRM software is one of the fastest growing markets in the online services sector. Most CRM packages are now cloud-based systems running the Software as a Service (SaaS) and can be integrated with other online systems (such as accounting systems, mailing house fulfillment and your website).
Ten years ago, these systems were only affordable by larger companies but now even the smallest companies of 1-2 members of staff can put these systems in place.
In fact, there are even several free CRM systems on the market that are very impressive. The question is now becoming whether you can afford to ignore the technology while your competitors are adopting it.
Watch our free online video!
Want to find out more? Watch our free online video introduction to how you can use a CRM to grow your business and a tour of the popular AgileCRM system.