Customer Relationship Management
Introduction to CRM
Customer Relationship Management has been around since the 1990’s, when it simply referred to the methods you used to keep in touch with customers. These days, a CRM software used to its full potential can be so much more than a glorified address book. Let's take a closer look in this introduction to CRM.
Essentially, your CRM should be the key to synchronising all of your external contacts. When used correctly, your CRM can ensure that your employees always have access to up-to-date and real-time information, and that your clients have the best experience possible when dealing with your organisation.
Your CRM solution can take your business to the next level.
But for this to happen, you need to ensure that every department in your business is using the CRM system - and getting value from it. Unfortunately, some companies don't use the full potential of their CRM software; in some cases employees don't understand how the software can help them: and, in others, your CRM might be old, hard to integrate with new software, and may need replacing. But how do you know which category you fit into? In this introduction to CRM, we will aim to shed some light on your current situation.
All You Need to Know About CRM Solutions
There are many various CRM solutions on the market. While some software solutions will be perfect for your SME, other solutions - especially enterprise CRMs - are made especially for large conglomerates. The many solutions we now see were originally developed to give account managers, customer support, sales and marketing a system that would effectively track activities and provide efficiency savings. With these systems, firms were suddenly able to record performance metrics, identify where savings were possible and get a general overview on how your business and various departments were performing.
Later, CRM developers added analytics and management modules, resulting in the solutions we have today: a CRM as a database of prospects and leads. All of which you can access from a wide range of devices, and which includes analytical and reporting functionality in order to track performance, as well as communication.
These days, your CRM can be a one-stop-shop solution to all your business needs. Not only will it provide up-to-date information on your customers and their preferences, but you will also be able to see and trace developments and events in the relationship between you and your clients.
3 Important Features of CRM Systems
Different people, or departments, will need to see information in different ways. There are three main views:
Conversations is a vital part of your CRM solution. With a software solution, you should be able to see recent emails sent and received by a specific person or group of people. Additionally, you should be able to organise interactions by group, by team or by the people involved. Your CRM should also offer an overview of who you need to contact, when and why.
Some like to focus their CRM on leads instead. If this is the case for you, we recommend that you implement a CRM that can help you log and track existing and potential customers - from initial contact to potential buyer, through negotiations and to the sale. It can also track any subsequent after-sales, customer relations, and help identify issues or opportunities. In short, your CRM can ensure that your customer remain happy - and that they remain with you.
This CRM view focuses on individuals. You can log the interactions with somebody, with as much information as you need; even including details such as what kind of restaurant they prefer, or when their birthday falls, as well as their current roles and responsibilities.
What Are the Benefits of Modern CRM Solutions?
Does your current CRM offer you flexibility? If not, you should start searching for a solution that can deal with accounts, opportunities and list management in the way that suits you the best. Whether it's customer support or project management, your employees should be able to use the software to manage their workloads effectively in the way best suited to them.
Gone are the days when your CRM would keep you tied to your office desk. A good CRM is mobile, usable anywhere with an internet connection and accessible on a variety of devices. Provided that you have your tablet or your phone, you should be able to use your CRM system to make notes; access and share up-to-date information; communicate with your colleagues; and retrieve sales histories. In fact, you should be able to do anything that you could do in the office. And some solutions will even bring mobile device security features.
The CRM solution must be able to report on everyone and everything that’s plugged into it, giving an accurate picture of your organisation at all times.
Your CRM system should allow your sales team to focus on key metrics. It should also enable them to work collaboratively and cooperatively, as it can show your team where the most likely conversions are. It can assist your sales team in focusing their time and effort effectively, and should help to minimise any disagreements as to focus and targeting.
Every member of your organisation can find recent, relevant information about any customer with whom they deal, allowing them to deliver a fully personalised service to every customer and to quickly identify issues or sales opportunities.
Works with your Marketing Software
Marketing automation software has huge potential for most companies. To really use this kind of software properly, however, you must integrate it with your CRM system. Find our guide to Marketing Automations vs CRM right here.
A good CRM system can be used as a library, ensuring that assets are available to everybody and that updates and messages are properly handled.
Different teams need different views - and so do different businesses, or businesses at different times. You need to be able to fine tune your CRM system to the needs of your business; CRM is definitely not one size fits all.
Scalable, Affordable and Future-Proof
Many CRM systems come under the heading SaaS (Software as a Service), which is often subscription-based. This means that these solutions are affordable for smaller companies, not just global giants. Whether or not this is the route you choose, you will need to have a CRM system that can cope with changes in your business, in software and in the marketplace.
A Central Service
Your CRM system should be central to your organisation, and everybody should be using it. If your entire team has access to the information your CRM system can provide, then your customers will get a better, joined-up experience and your staff will work more efficiently.
Used correctly, the CRM will become the hub of your business by collating information from
- Enterprise solutions
- Ecommerce solutions
- Marketing automation software
- Social tools
- Accounting systems
This information is then readily available to those who need it, and you can monitor how effectively the information is being used.
When Do You Need To Upgrade Your CRM?
Is your CRM no longer pulling its weight? There are plenty of signs that you might need to upgrade your current CRM. We have a full guide to upgrading you CRM right here, and below you'll find a brief excerpt.
- Firstly, do you have a single source of information? If you have databases and spreadsheets all over the place, information and contacts shared haphazardly between teams, and your data is held in silos, then you should be thinking about implementing a new CRM solution.
- If you have been using the same system for more than five years, it is probably due for an overhaul, an upgrade or a replacement. CRM systems have improved so much over the last few years that if you’re using an older system you will be missing out on some valuable CRM features in 2019.
- Is your CRM integrated or isolated? An effective solution needs to be linked and seamlessly integrated to the other technology you use, in order to make the best use of the information that technology generates. That data then needs to be stored in the right fields, standardised, classified and easy to find when searched for. If your staff are simply storing everything in the “notes” field, they’re not realising the full potential of CRM.
- All of your staff need to be using the system. If there are people in your organisation who would benefit from having that information at their fingertips but don’t have it, or who have information but store it elsewhere, then your CRM solution is not doing the job you need it to do.
- Do you have to spend time tracking down missing information on leads, budgets, or clients? If you do, then you need to be using a different CRM solution, or changing the way in which you use the one you have. This wasted time is precisely what a CRM solution is designed to avoid.
If the mere thought of CRM makes you shudder, then your current CRM system probably needs some attention. A good software solution should streamline your workflow, make reporting a pain-free process and be the one tool you need in order to take your business to the next level. Do you need help choosing your next CRM? Fill out the form to your right, and one of our CRM experts will be in touch with impartial, non-chargeable software advice.
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