Establishing and maintaining positive business relationships is the door to both sustainability and growth. An effective Customer Relationship Management system is the key to that door.
How do you manage your business relationships? Maybe you are jotting down telephone numbers and notes in a diary or smartphone, or updating multiple documents on a laptop with ‘to do’ lists and contact details. Perhaps your team keep their prospects, meetings, sales leads and customer details to themselves, tucked away safely in their heads; it’s ‘their relationship’ after all.
If any of this sounds familiar, you are missing opportunities to grow your business.
Why use CRM software?
The most successful businesses are built on a deep understanding of their customers / service users. When someone in your business speaks to a customer or sales lead, receives an email, attends a meeting, resolves a complaint or closes a deal they are accumulating vital knowledge that should not be disregarded or forgotten. For example, you know their telephone number and email, but do you know:
- What products / services are they interested in?
- What’s their budget?
- When / how do they prefer to be contacted?
- Have they experienced issues / made complaints in the past that you should be addressing?
If this information is written down on paper, saved in a phone or laptop, or even just passed on by word of mouth, there is a very real chance you something important could be missed. If a staff member is absent or leaves the business, does the information leave with them?
If several team members are involved in the sales process, how do you ensure everyone is working with the latest information?
The solution is a central CRM system to record all the key information, interactions and sales data that your team needs in order to provide the best service.
On its most basic level, CRM software provides a detailed, centralised record of customer information that is accessible to the whole of your business on a 24/7 basis. Used correctly, however, it is also a tool that enables you to interpret the information, gain unprecedented insight into your business and translate this into action. CRM provides a deeper understanding of your customers that will take your business to the next level.
What are the benefits of a CRM for small business?
By keeping detailed, accurate and clear information on all your business contacts you can remove human error and ensure no opportunity is missed. In addition to keeping comprehensive contact information, you can also gather and record the facts that will help you develop the relationship e.g. sales history, contact preferences, previous communications and any planned meetings or actions needed. The information can be viewed across your business by every department and updated in real time, so the whole business is always working with the latest data. If your CRM software operates via a Cloud system the information will be available to your staff wherever they have access to the internet.
Understand your customers
The more you can discover about your customers the better you will be able to meet their needs. With CRM software you can record every contact or interaction they have ever had with your business, including any feedback they’ve provided or complaints made. Whether positive or negative this insight will help you to improve your service and address areas that need development.
By understanding each customer as an individual you can deliver a service that is personalised and marketing that is tailored to them. CRM software will enable you to segment your customers so you can deliver targeted marketing campaigns and promotional offers that they want to see based on their previous purchases or communications. Make sure you contact them in the way they prefer e.g. by email, phone or post, so you can avoid wasting time or resource.
Improved customer service
In addition to proactively trying to satisfy the customer’s needs, it’s important that when a problem does occur you can resolve things quickly. Mistakes happen in every business but a quick and comprehensive response can make all the difference when you’re trying to maintain a customer’s trust. The total visibility that CRM software delivers means your staff have everything they need to know about a customer from the first time they get in touch. It also means communication and collaboration across departments is simple and efficient so you can find solutions and answer questions easily. No more passing them from department to department, making them answer the same questions over and over again or failing to respond at all because of an admin error.
CRM software can be automated to remove a lot of the time consuming admin tasks that take your staff away from managing customer relationships. Tasks like completing forms, creating reports or scheduling meetings can be handled by the software at the touch of a button. Collaborative diaries and the ability to send messages or information to other team members will transform the way your business shares information. The time saved can be redirected back into closing deals, strengthening relationships and addressing customer problems.
Advanced analysis and reporting
By collecting and recording all this vital customer data you can build an overall picture of your business’ strengths, weaknesses, customer profiles and more. CRM software provides reporting functionality that will enable you to understand your business and how best to achieve growth.
All these benefits ultimately result in happier customers which means more recommendations and higher customer retention. This of course equates to more sales, more profit and growth.
The cost of a CRM system is often hard to estimate due to huge number of providers on the market and the variety of ways that providers breakdown their pricing structure. Usually, a CRM software package is sold via a monthly subscription that increases depending on the number of users.
However you also need to consider the initial implementation cost which can be substantial. It is also important to note that ‘extra’ features may add additional cost as will ongoing modifications or updates. Make sure any quote you consider has a full breakdown of the costs and that you understand everything listed so you can compare like for like.