This doesn’t just mean that you’ve ticked the box and got some CRM software to manage sales leads, useful though that is.
CRM or customer relationship management is an extremely rewarding process, as ultimately it should mean that you keep your best customers. We also know that it’s easier to win new business from existing customers than it is to find new ones (have a read of EConsultancy’s blog post on improving customer retention rates for retailers for lots of stats to back this up), so it definitely deserves our time for that reason at least. Back to basics for a minute…
What do we mean by CRM?
Customer relationship management (CRM) is an approach to managing a company’s interaction with current and future customers. It often involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support.
This definition makes the clear point that it is not just a sales and marketing function – we want to understand our customers at every touch point with our organisation, from a sales lead through to customer service.
Many larger businesses are recognising that this joined up approach to the customer journey ultimately brings in more business, and we’re seeing CRM manager/expert roles being introduced. This demonstrates the shift towards an emphasis on customer experience and retention:
Whether you are using specific CRM sales software such as SalesForce, Act or Sage for example or a marketing automation system with CRM features such as Hubspot or Marketo, or even just use a spreadsheet – it’s always possible to start a CRM system.
CRM is all about data, preferably all in one place on your potential and existing customers. However you store that data, it’s extremely valuable to your business. Here are just a few examples of how you can use it to maximise opportunities:
- Keeping track of your customers – what products and services they’ve bought, how long they’ve been a customer, service contracts and general facts
- Demographic data for marketing purposes – use the data you hold on your customers and potential customers to segment them for marketing by location, age, job title and so on
- Customer service information – last contact, outstanding issues, questions and conversations. If these are logged you can make informed choices before you cross sell or develop more user friendly products and services based on what you’re learning
- Analysing success rates – for new business, how long does it take to convert a contact to a sale, can you streamline or improve the process based on the data you have?
- Annual reviews – by tracking your customers you’ll know when they’ve been with you for a year, two years or a month, 6 months which provides you with an opportunity to contact them or review the account
- Email marketing – if you have any sort of CRM system and are not email marketing to your database, then start! The data you are collecting is perfect to segment your audience and what better way to stay in touch?
At the most practical level, whether or not you use marketing automation software or CRM software, keeping track of your customers means that you can diary dates to contact them. This contact plan might include an annual review or regular opportunities to make them aware of a new product or service or simply just to touch base at agreed intervals.