Or, to switch it up for fun, the way you manage your relationships with your customers. It’s a huge concept and probably covers a significant portion of what most businesses do routinely every day, for example:
- Maintaining a database of contacts
- Diarising meetings and phone calls
- Recording sales
- Communicating with customers
- Analysing customer behaviour
- Analysing sales trends
- Answering customers queries
- Resolving complaints.
For a long time businesses handled these tasks ad hoc via computer documents and paper files, and any information that was of any use to the business had to be passed from individual to individual by email or word of mouth. The inevitable consequence is lost or miscommunicated information with no cohesion between your marketing, sales or customer care strategies.
What’s the solution? CRM software, of course.
CRM software acts as your central customer or client database, recording all the information in one easily accessible program that everyone in the business can update and access. Any new information received can be added to the system ensuring everything is shared to give a complete customer overview.
But the wonders don’t stop there; online CRM tools can be much more than a simple database. It can also keep detailed records of each customer’s buying habits, previous communications and even which products they have been browsing on your website. It can segment your customers by their stage in the sales process or by past interactions. It can automate the communications that will nurture a successful, profitable relationship. Businesses can use CRM software to access unprecedented insight into their customers; this insight can transform your marketing, sales and customer service.
What types of CRM software are available?
CRM software packages generally fall into one of three categories:
- Service / Suppor
It’s possible to introduce software that supports just one area of your business but you will find that many providers offer packages that coordinate two or more. The reason for this is that each stage of the customer journey is very much married to the next, and in many cases forms a complete sales cycle.
Marketing CRM tools will segment all your contacts into the categories that matter to your business e.g. prospect, qualified sales lead, existing customer. It can analyse what the prospect is interested in and what their behaviour has been to date enabling you to create targeted and personalised marketing. Through multi-phased and relevant messages you can engage with and inform prospects about your service, build trust and brand awareness and enable them to reach a buying decision. Now you have a qualified sales lead.
Sales CRM can now move forward with the customers who are either ready to purchase or are in the final stages of making a decision. With a 360° view of the customer’s behaviour to date you can move the relationship forward with focused communication, relevant product information and stronger calls to action. Account management and collaborative data sharing across your business means you can hone the sales process, iron out snags and increase the number of lead conversions.
Service / Support CRM is the final step to creating and retaining an army of happy customers. Once they’ve made their purchase it’s important to maintain communication and recognise their value to your business. This is especially true when it comes to enabling customers to ask questions or make suggestions / complaints. Service CRM ensures you have all the information you need to resolve issues efficiently and also to reward loyal customers with special offers.
But your relationship doesn’t stop there; with their account details logged you can strengthen the relationship even further through relevant marketing such as thank you messages or occasionally informing them about special offers that may be of interest. Keep the lines of communication open, promote brand loyalty and increase the likelihood of repeat business and positive recommendations.
Who uses online CRMs?
Is it for small or large businesses?
There are packages and prices to suit every size of business, including some free software packages for those on restricted budgets. Generally the price of a package increases with the number of users you would like to have access to it and, of course, the sophistication of the technology and functionality. No matter what your size or sector, CRM software will help you to understand your customers, produce smarter marketing, streamline your sales process and identify opportunities for growth.
B2B or B2C
Marketing automation is particularly well suited to the B2B industry, mainly because of the more targeted nature of their audience. Many B2B relationships are long standing arrangements that rely on carefully considered decisions with several people involved in sign-off. Marketing automation is perfect for this longer term conversion process. In the case of B2C marketing, this process is much shorter and requires marketing that is attention grabbing, engaging, persuasive and, to put it simply, more blunt in its approach.
However, B2C businesses share several characteristics with B2B that make Marketing Automation CRM a crucial element in the conversion process. Before a consumer makes a purchase, a B2C also needs to build awareness of and trust in your brand, all of which take time to accomplish. They need to understand your product and why it is the best choice available to them. It’s may be a quicker process than in B2B, but a necessary one that Marketing Automation makes infinitely more effective.
The next step…
If your business needs to introduce CRM or you’re looking to upgrade an existing system, it’s time to get in touch with WhatCost. You need to make sure you’re getting the best solution for your business and to do this we advise you to compare at least two quotes from different CRM providers.
We can recommend the best providers based on your business needs and provide you with up to 3 no obligation quotes, completely free of charge.