One of the most commonly mentioned acronyms in industries that deal with sales and customer service is CRM. However, despite its prevalence many people may not be sure what CRM stands for or what it actually does. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and it refers to managing a company’s relationship with its customers. Most often a CRM also refers to a software program that automates this process and provides employees with a useful interface and system of tools for managing these customer relationships. Although CRMs are most commonly seen in industries that deal heavily with sales and customer service; however, since nearly all businesses have customers, or at least contacts, any company could benefit from a customer relationship software.
What Is a CRM?
A CRM provides a way of keeping track of marketing efforts, customer service, sales, and technical support for a customer, client, or prospect. Essentially its main function is to improve the quality and efficiency of these types of interactions. A CRM should provide a comprehensive set of information that can be accessed by multiple employees from different departments. This is to ensure that everyone has access to the information about the individual that they need, and that the individual receives efficient service without the duplication or absence of important steps.
When the software is running at its peak performance, a CRM should make the employees’ jobs much more efficient and easier. It should also save the company money due to this increased efficiency as well as contribute to an overall more positive customer experience. As a marketing tool you can track all of your efforts and campaigns in one central location providing you a better opportunity to realize the return on those efforts.
Running a CRM
There are some specific aspects of running CRM software that a company should be aware of if they are thinking about getting one implemented or are already using one. Being aware of these different aspects will help ensure that a company is able to get the best return possible from their CRM. This is important because in many cases purchasing and setting up a CRM can be very expensive. Being cognizant of these factors will also further improve the customers’ experience and satisfaction level.
Implementation – One of the most crucial aspects of any CRM is the implementation phase itself. Properly implementing a CRM will involve considerable time and effort on the part of the company. Employees will need to be thoroughly trained and it is important to make sure that everyone who will be using the CRM not only understands how to do it, but also why it is important. In addition, the implementation phase will involve integrating the CRM into the company’s overall infrastructure. This can be a daunting task at first but once all of the company’s systems are able to communicate with the CRM, then automation and proper reporting can occur. If the implementation is not done successfully, however, then that will likely result in sporadic, inconsistent use. By the same token, if the supporting systems and periphery programs are not fully updated then that can result in poor performance from the CRM.
Adoption – Similar to the above mention of employees being trained is the issue of adoption. It is difficult to change the way someone is used to doing their job and technology can be intimidating at times. However, it is essential that the CRM becomes a part of daily life at the company otherwise it will not function to its highest potential. To improve adoption rates it is essential that employees understand why the CRM is important and specifically how it can make their jobs easier, more successful, and/or more lucrative. Relating the CRM to a core value that is important to the employees will significantly improve its adoption.
Analytics – Once the CRM is up and running it is essential to keep tabs on your operations with analytics. This valuable information will let the company know how the CRM is actually affecting business. It will also likely offer clues as to what improvements can be made. By continually streamlining and optimizing customer interaction the CRM will help the company perform at its highest, most efficient level.
Security and Privacy – There is nothing worse than the type of PR nightmare which might occur if a company accidentally compromises its customers’ personal information. This occurrence would have a horrible effect on customer trust and loyalty and regaining that confidence could take years or even decades. That is why it is so important to make sure that your CRM is completely secure and that you are carefully guarding the privacy of your customers.
Since there are so many different components of implementing and maintaining customer relationship manager software it is common for a company to outsource this task to a third party. Often this can result in the perfect blend of efficiency and benefits gained from having the CRM in place, while minimizing the labor and resources involved with taking care of it. Whichever route a company decides to go, a CRM is a very powerful tool and it is certainly one worth considering.
By Kevin Knight