Customer Relationship Management

CRM has garnered a lot of attention within a short period. The acronym stands for Customer Relationship Management (CRM). It has occupied the biggest share in the corporate houses. It is strategically designed to improve revenues and profitability, reduce the cost of expenditures and retain existing customers. Its philosophy is simple Customer is always the king. 

What is Customer Relationship Management?

To wrap it up in a more dignified manner Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a concept that refers to the strategies used by an organization to improve business relationships with their existing and potential customers. The organization gathers and analyzes the customer’s information like names, phone numbers, addresses, email ids, purchasing behavior et al. to develop, retain and acquire customers which will ultimately drive their sales growth. 

Dated back in the 80’s the CRM software was built to improve customer services.

Nowadays, it relates to the entire business strategy from bringing the sales, to supporting marketing activities and streamlining the process, policy and people with a holistic approach on a single platform.

With all the pampering that CRM receives from the companies is because it can easily gel well with the other applications that the organisation uses and also help them to curtail their extra cost.

Today every business is in the need of CRM software, be it a start-up or big MNC, to manage a chunk of data scattered across multiple devices or to interact with your customers to improve customer satisfaction eventually you will need a solution to address your unfinished litany of woes. Thus, CRM is proving to be an unguent on your unaddressed wounds. It has become a proven asset for the organization and therefore, a report by Gartner found that CRM software is the largest software market in the world. 

CRM philosophy is simple. it always channelizes your business through the eyes of your customers thus enabling it to deliver a better customer experience which will increase the loyalty towards your company.

  • A study forecasted by Walker determines that in the coming year’s customer experience shall overtake price and brand as a key differentiator. 
  • Customer-centric companies are more profitable than those who follow the conventional approach

In an organisation with a Customer-facing employee (department of sales, marketing and customer support) where you are required to take the quick and informed decision you resort to a creative ingenuity such as CRM software to solve the issue.

6 Easy steps to Understand How CRM works 

· Awareness:  It is a window to your organization through which the customer tries to gain   information about your company/ brand
· Discovery: Any product fulfilling their needs will grab their attention.
· Evaluation: The customer will evaluate your product/ service with that of your competitors
· Intent: Finally, a decision is made to buy your service/ product
· Purchase: Once the payment is done the prospects becomes your customer.
· Loyalty: To maintain a healthy relationship with your customers you may request a review for your product and also ask for referrals.

Why is CRM important to your business?

In the cracker of a soft launch, CRM has become a colossal part of all the corporate houses. And it is showing no signs of stopping!

It is mainly due to its interaction between a company and its customers. 

In the business strategy, it helps in lead generation, understanding the perspective of customers, retaining the customers, attracting new customers, strengthening the deals and also increasing the profitability of a business. 

Most importantly it reduces the cost of customer management due to its automation process. 

With fast-paced technology every second, a new product or service is introduced in the market so there are high chances of customer switching. In cases like these, CRM helps in strategizing sales and marketing efforts when dealing with a different segment of customers. 

It also helps the organization to understand its customers’ needs, preference and wants and to target them according to their choices. The more you are aware of the buying patterns of the customers the more likely your service/ product can be sold. 

CRM acts as a catalyst to foster customer trust and strengthen customer relationship with your company 

How does CRM work? 

Customer Relationship Management is designed to create a harmonic approach in the chaotic world of data in real time.

It acts as a one stop destination which unites all the functionalities of a sales, marketing and service automation.

CRM provides sales and marketing a complete set of tools to conduct their operations from lead generation, forecasting, and closure of deals, up-selling and cross-selling.

It automates the interaction process, provides business intelligence, and empowers sales representatives to make the process hassle free.

It helps in improving customer communication and responsiveness, to coordinate the management of sales and marketing campaigns.

It can also serve as a reminder for any incomplete task by generating pre-scheduling activities like sending mails or initiating a phone call.

Adding one more feather to its hat, it records, analyzes, tracks and measures the company’s performance and productivity in detail thereby ensuring better strategies for potential sales.

Operating a business can be an arduous task hence to ease the process CRM makes it a cakewalk for you to efficiently handle your current and prospective customers.

Wherever there is chaos CRM will help in streamlining the mess.

Key Features of the CRM System 

CRM software focuses primarily on sales, marketing & customer service and makes them better in terms of meeting the needs of the customer.

The following chart explains each feature and its process in detail:

Must HaveCommonOptional
Contact managementEmail integrationReporting/ analytics management 
Lead managementDocuments managementForecasting management
 Quotes / Proposal management 
 Pipeline 

Must features

When you are installing a CRM software these features are a must-have for any organisations.

  1. Contact Management

The primary source to connect with your customers is the contact. This feature allows you to store contacts of the customers in one place. It will give a detailed description of the customers. But the key consideration here is that the different CRM may have a different set of tools so you have to choose wisely as per your need.

  1. Lead management

This is the 2nd most feature after contact management which will identify the prospective customer and convert it into a potential customer. A potential customer is a lead until a deal is finally closed. A lead can come from many channels: social media, a website, event, referral, or cold calling. With these various, you can assign lead and you can know which lead has the highest chance of moving into the pipeline. Here the key consideration lies in identifying which department is responsible for generating lead because it will show the route of the lead and how it can be carried forward. 

Common feature

Common features as it goes with its name they are available in basically all software. It has more than a basic plan but an upgraded function which may not be vital to your organisation at that period may not be available.

  1. Email Integration

    When you have a CRM Software embedded with an Email management system it will prioritize your customers according to their email body (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc), you can easily analyze the response to every email and ensure thorough follow-up with your customers.
  1. Document Management

    Collect all information of your customer as data and now upload it on the device and store it. Here different data of single customers in multiple devices create more confusion than anything. Therefore document management in CRM will help you with the collection and storage of the data in a centralized location. This will also allow easy access to the data for everyone. And promotes a smooth, consistent experience, and hence there is no room for confusion. 
  1. Quotes/Proposal Management

    This is a common feature because it can create quotes and proposals for your customers after they have been in a pipeline. It becomes easy to communicate back and forth with your contract and quotes stored in one place. Again it depends upon the nature of your organization.
  1. Pipeline Management

    It gives a bird view of the entire status or progress of each stage in the sales funnel.If you have too many criteria to filter out in your sales pipeline this feature could be a good idea to look out for in CRM software. 

Optional features

  1. Reporting/Analytics Management

This is optional but a crucial step in managing your decision making styles. With daily, weekly or monthly reporting of the sales rep, you can get a better understanding of your progress and sales report. It will help you in transcending your gut feeling to actual data-driven methods with logical reasoning. The analysis of your business will be in-depth and the insights received will help you in taking the better and informed decisions about your organisation.

  1. Forecasting management 

Forecasting and analytics go hand in hand. They are codependent. You cannot work without the other as both are required for generating better predictions. You can get a rough idea about your future goals depending on your past/ present trends of your company. 

This function is suitable if you have a robust plan to conquer the unchartered territories and strong decision-making skills. You get a fair idea about your market and where your place is in the targeted market so it helps in creating strategies which may help you secure a better place in the market and gain a higher market share than your competitors.

7 Factors to Consider while Choosing CRM

With an array of different CRM solutions available, choosing the one that works best for your business and your sales and marketing could be a challenge.

According to salesforce research: 

  • 30%-50% of the business couldn’t achieve their objective even after successful implementation of CRM software.
  • 43% of businesses fail to use their CRM software effectively.
  • 18% out of 150 organizations using CRM have issues that are directly related to improper strategies

To avoid any pitfalls of CRM investments in your business below are some essential factors for selecting the best CRM software 

  1. Identify Your Needs

    Every company has a fixed goal which they want to achieve in a definite period. In terms of CRM, you should identify the purpose of your need and whether it will be aligned with your goals. If you need to increase lead generation, you should search for lead generation software. If you want sales reporting software, you may be able to identify where your deals are getting stuck. The software also comes with 360-degree contact views, which will give you access to your contact data. The CR tools can also automate some data work, which may increase the efficiency of the sales teams. Some CRM software also provides customized dashboards. Before finalizing the deal, map out a reason for buying CRM software.
  2. Budget

    After identifying the needs, it is time to fulfill your needs, and budget is a crucial part of any organization, be it a small start-up or a big company. Small businesses can adopt cloud-based solutions, but for large companies with different managerial hierarchies, vertical, and horizontal structures, they require processes more customized to handle diverse data across the departments. The budget is not limited to purchasing software. Still, maintenance fee, up-gradation, configuration at different levels should also be taken into consideration while choosing a CRM which may not exceed your budget plans.
  3. User Friendly

    This is one of the main factors while selecting CRM software. If the system is difficult to operate, acceptance of such a system is difficult by your team members. Instead of making your work easier, it will be less efficient and increase the work pressure of your teammates.

    There is software available which offers integrated CRM with a user-friendly interface for a business of all sizes.
  4. Availability of Customer Support

    It is important to have back support when things go amiss even if your organization is Avante Garde in technology. Apart from the sales training support included in the package (depends upon the CRM software). You should check in advance their modus operandi when the road gets rough and your organisation external support. There are also freelancing consultants available if you need an eleventh-hour emergency to work upon who can offer helping hands at a fraction of cost.
  5. Integrations and open API

    When your business garners attention from social media networks and requires e-commerce applications to switch back and forth between all the day to drive conversion and engage customers, integration is a prudent feature in a CRM system. Seamless connectivity is essential for such a type of business. A better CRM software will sync social media apps, accounting software, marketing campaigns, and sales tools to give you a 360degree view of the customer data. It will give you the freedom to enable challenges and handle customer issues. It also helps in better communication with teams and stakeholders thereby reducing the time efforts. An integrated CRM system enables you to work with those apps from within your organization, without having to switch between screens all day.
  6. Mobile Access

    In today’s digitalized world, when every aspect of your life is reigned by mobile, why should your business be left out? Even your audiences love to stick their head on their smartphones for every possible reason. Mobile access helps in accessing the data from anywhere and your work is not confined to the office. This adds flexibility and is a valuable feature when your employees are scattered in different parts of the world. Therefore zeroing on CRM software with a custom-built mobile feature would be a significant factor to look out for.
  7. Customization and Reporting

    Every business has a departmental process that varies from one another, Therefore, a customized software is a must to suit the needs of any organization. The sales system when customized for each user will prove to be an invaluable asset to the company. Software that will help you in giving you insights into your data through sales team reporting. It will also help in raising profitability and to amend the changes when something is not working in your favor. 

Types of CRM Applications 

 In the era of cut throat competition it is always important for a business to reach out to their customers at the right time with the right product else, business has high chances of losing their customer. CRM software helps us to ease the communication with the customers. A CRm software deals with applications which are responsible for carrying out a task of understanding the needs of the customers and cementing the relationship between a customer and businesses.

There are mainly 3 types of CRM Applications 

Operational CRM 

Operational CRM automates the function of MArketing Sales and Services department within a company by streamlining the processes of generating leads,converting them into contacts, procuring all the information required of a customers ona shared interface

Sales Automation:

Sales automation makes a huge difference to the overall organisation. THe firms who ses sales automation helps in outperforming laggards in ROI. The main purpose of this sales automation is to centralise all the sales of new and existing customers. It organizes the data which helps in increasing the sales effectively and efficiency

Aberdeen Research Group state that there are 23% higher lead conversion rate using this Saes automation. 

Marketing Automation

The main objective of a marketing automaton is to devise a strategy to offer products to potential customers. IT will help organisations to channelise the campaign management module which will include emails, ads on social media, face to face meetings etc.

Service Automation

Service module is an intangible element hence you cannot offer it to the customer but you can make it a better experience by providing best quality services. You may quick fix any customers issues or handle incoming/ outgoing customer calls, monitor quality of service based on KPIs

Collaborative 

Collaborative application helps in crosslinking customer data across the independent working business unit. For example a feedback from a support unit could help a marketing team to improve their services or make changes in their products. In the real world, every unit works as an independent entity hence  if there is no sharing of data or loss of communication may lead to losing customers. Therefore, Collaborative application helps in blending all the shared data through a common interface which will be helpful for everyone in the organization.

Analytical

The main objective of this application is to analyse data of your customers. It gives a structured format to the cluttered data and helps top management, marketing and sales personnel. Analytical data gathers information of customers from various touch points and gives  better insight about the status of customers. 

Features of Analytical applications:

  • It helps in better decision process
  • Gauge campaign effectiveness
  • Increase sales
  • Setting up business methodology and improving customer relationship and loyalty 
  • Improving CRM system effectiveness by analyzing KPIs

Each CRM application will have different features and benefits to offer therefore, every business has to align their future goals and strategy before implementing a CRM system.

A quick summary of different types of CRM applications

OperationalCollaborativeAnalytical
Primary function: Sales, service and supportPrimary Function: Data sharing Primary Function: Data analysis
Facilitates Customer self-service and customer facing functionsServes as a database for internal company informationCollects and analysis customer data
Automates functions like contact, follow-up, schedulingSupport cross-functional processTrack and analyze KPIs
Connect marketing, sales and service teamsAddress internal communication breakdownSetting long term goal andHelps in decision taking process 

Benefits of CRM

CRM offers 3 major benefits to the customers

All Information in a Single Dashboard

when there is a simultaneous task happening around it becomes difficult to handle scattered data. The need for a powerful device in place of many individual applications is a must. CRM plays a major role here it allows data to be on a single platform. Therefore, it becomes easy to access clients information during meetings. There is highly processed software as well which syncs the multiple devices, and gives up to date customer information from any access point.

Automated Technology

CRM software lets users standardise workflows and processes associated with different departments like sales, marketing, and customer support for better coordination between these teams. CRM streamlines the processes through automation.

Caters to the needs of the Organization

Some high tech CRM software offers analytical functions. Here users create a customizable dashboard and reports as per the customer’s data. It can be used for segmentation of the customers, tracking revenues or managing any campaigns.

Beside these they also prove better for Precise operational strategy, Mobile workforce, Increase in sales, Cost cutting, Data-driven business culture, Better team collaboration, End to end customer engagement and Contextual communication.

Implementation of CRM

In today’s world, it is imperative to have a CRM s marketing tool that can drive a maximum sale.

With every company making maximum uses of CRM you have to stand out and give your customer more than they expect to avoid customer switching

Here are a few examples of Customer Interactions:

  1. Live Engagement on Social Media Platforms:

With every business taking a bend and using social media platform as an extended arm for marketing you can add an extra edge with engaging live with your customers. It is gaining ground as a prominent communication channel to make interaction easier. It also helps in gaining customer trust with your brand or company

  1. Omnichannel Presence:

Thank the technology it has given you scope to work with numerous channels. Spread out your business possibly on the entire communication channel so you don’t have a (FOMO) Fear of Missing Out.

  1. Automated Support System:

With technology seeping right through our life you can always have a 24/7 open for your clients. This will help you to solve their queries while you are sleeping through it. Chatbots will also gather the types of information by answering a few FAQs which can help you to know your customers well.

  1. Continuous Marketing Engagement:

 The best way to engage with your customer is post-sales. This will ensure that they are being valued and a loyal customer is always more profitable than the new customer. You may engage the customer by sending a Thank you email, you may also ask for reviews of the purchased products. The better is the engagement the happier your customers are. The most efficiently you engage your customers they are more likely to retain and recommend to their friends and families.

  1. Increase Customer Satisfaction:

The journey of customer satisfaction starts the moment your customer has purchased your product. It means they have shown trust in you. If the customer has any grievances regarding your brands it all depends on how successfully solves their issues within a stipulated time. Keeping your customer’s expectations is a top priority and meeting it will ensure in customer delight which will boost their satisfaction.

A strategic CRM manages data efficiently and allows you to reach out to your customer in an organized and professional manner. Therefore, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is considered as a fundamental system in almost all the organizations.

Despite the numerous benefits, CRM software offers, it is still tricky to fathom a CRM solution that will seamlessly fit into your business strategy. There is no thumb rule to select a CRM solution based on any factors. You must always take into consideration better ROI and productivity that provides an ideal match for your daily business practices and long term customer satisfaction.