Customer Relationship Management:How CRM Can Boost Your Bottom Line

Remember when you shopped at the corner store where the owner knew all his customers by name? He knew your tastes and needs and could often predict what you’d buy. And you rewarded him with your continued custom and loyalty. People often lament the loss of this personal touch in business. After all, it’s hardly possible for a company with a vast product line and a global customer base. Well think again, because Customer Relationship Management (CRM) allows you to create that personal touch and gain the trust and loyalty of your customers. Read on and find out how.

Customers are the greatest asset your business has so it makes sense to take care of them as much as possible. For one thing, serving existing customers is very cost effective in the long run (acquiring new customers costs up to five times as much as serving existing ones). What’s more, this reputation for service enhances your company’s reputation which leads to even more business. It’s a win-win situation, but how do you manage it in the modern complex business environment? That’s where CRM comes in.

With its origins in database marketing, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is essentially a strategic use of IT to develop your relationship with your customers. CRM software uses sophisticated data analysis to glean insights into customer behaviour and requirements. This lets you so determine their precise wants and needs. And equally importantly, it makes sure that information is in the hands of those who actually deal with your customers so they can deliver what the customer wants and needs.

To illustrate the value of CRM to your company, we’ll look at three major applications: sales force productivity, customer service, and marketing effectiveness.

CRM boost sales force productivity in many ways. Firstly, it provides accurate the up-to-date information that the sales force needs. But strategic CRM also provides the tools to put that data into use. This empowers your sales team. They can now focus totally on the customer’s needs without being distracted by the mechanics of the operation.

For this to happen, you need a CRM solution that enables your sales operation to share information. This will allow them to instantaneously create custom quotes and proposals and configure products and services to meet customer needs. It’s essentially a matter of personalisation and all part of providing an exceptional customer experience.

Next we’ll look at how CRM works in the all important field of customer service. Customer service involves forging a relationship with your customers. It requires developing responsiveness to their needs. This requires information that is timely, accurate, and readily available to those who need it. It’s a vital way to differentiate your business. And let’s not forget after-sales service. CRM gives you the tools to follow up on all customer transactions and let your customers know you’re there to support them.

Finally, there’s the all important factor of marketing effectiveness. CRM’s role here is to use technology to create, automate, manage and track the efficacy of your marketing programs. This means firstly having the right tools. These tools will give you a clear picture of your market and so allow you to develop targeted and personalised marketing campaigns. What’s more, they will enable you to optimally allocate funds and produce accurate forecasts. Targeting your campaigns will be improved too. For example, you can set up a system to group together customers with similar profiles to target with a marketing campaign.

Essentially, CRM is the application of IT to the age-old methodology of taking care of your customers. The man in the corner shop could keep all the data in his head. But in the complexity and volatility of the modern business environment, you need the strategic IT driven CRM solution. Using effective CRM can mean the difference between success and failure. Efficiency translates into increased customer satisfaction, your competitive edge, and ultimately, improved ROI.