Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has plenty of benefits. Because of these, CRM has come a long way over the last 25+ years. It has become the biggest business application of all time. But that’s hardly surprising when the overall health of a business would suffer without effective control and understanding of the customer relationship.
However, getting the best from a CRM system can be challenging. Unlike business areas like finance and logistics, there are few formal structures and rules in sales, marketing and customer service. Success in CRM requires more business skill and artistry.
You need to be able to identify and drive forward the opportunities and leverage that can bring great competitive advantage. This is not easy, but for the ambitious the difficulties have many rewards.
Here are six key benefits where CRM can make a significant difference:
1. Understanding what CRM should and could do for the organisation – one of the most important CRM benefits
This is number one because planning and implementing a CRM project is a critical benefit in its own right. Most business people by now will have some experience of CRM, and will know that technology doesn’t necessarily deliver benefit simply by being installed and deployed.
Understanding what CRM should and could do enables the execution of thinking and cultures – so a profound belief in what is to be achieved is absolutely necessary. This requires collegiate thinking within the company leadership but this process should not just be inwardly focused.
We live in a world where technology and customer expectations and experiences evolve fast. Observation and understanding of what competitors are doing (or not doing) is fundamental – as is learning lessons from best practice and innovation in other, perhaps very different, business areas.
2. Understanding the customer
This works both ways but it’s central to success and maximising benefit. Any CRM project should never let go of the simple truth that the ‘C’ in CRM stands for customer.
Paying little regard to the customer experience is one of the main historic causes of CRM disappointments. Really informed insight into the external customers’ expectations and hopes pays hugely. So too does the detailed establishment of the information/data needed to optimise both profitability and satisfaction for any single customer.
3. Get onboarding of new customers right and it will have a big pay-off
New customer onboarding is often not done well (except in financial services where it is legally mandatory). Business academics believe that the first 90 days of a new relationship are critical. In that period, customers have maximum tendency to provide data and buy further goods or services. So, knowing what data you want at the outset of the customer relationship is very important.
CRM systems are able to store and action future customer life-cycle events and opportunities. This makes the best use of this 90-day timeframe by informing both sales and marketing strategies in the future.
4. Communications are consistent, informed and effective
It’s an obvious truism that nothing is more destructive for business and consumer relationships than inconsistent and ill-informed contact. No customer likes to find that the company they’re talking to doesn’t know transactional or information histories, or cannot co-ordinate across departments or channels.
CRM systems are great for avoiding this and consequently minimising customer attrition. The other side of the coin is that, internally, CRM can profoundly improve systemic failures and ensure that work is ‘done and done once’.
5. Reporting, analytics and decision making
What you don’t know you can’t act upon and CRM certainly helps with this. Exactly what you want and need goes back to the principles established in the planning and strategy phase. What’s certain is that only a well maintained and information rich CRM platform will provide the sort of management information that is a pre-requisite of success and survival in today’s world.
6. Maintaining brand values and maximising customer retention and profitability
No business benefits are bigger than these. However, executing brand values can be very challenging, and in the contemporary world the task is much harder without class leading CRM strategies.
Customer retention is closely linked to profitability, demonstrated by decades of research. But we all know as consumers how disappointing the buying or service experience can be. Addressing areas 1-5 above will under-pin both the security of brand value and profitability.
Our experience of how to prevent CRM failures helps our customers become successful both now and as they evolve. Talk to us about your business challenges and discover how we can help you.