Keep it Simple: the 5 Core Features of an Effective CRM
What would you do if you only had one customer?
Given the reach of modern technology, many businesses find themselves dealing with a consumer base of hundreds of thousands, or even millions. But take a step back and ask yourself how your business would operate if all of your success depended upon the satisfaction of a single, solitary customer. Would you neglect your follow up calls? Would you misplace important client information, or transfer your client from department to department when he or she contacts you with questions? Would you allow you organization to deliver anything less than absolutely perfect service?
The truth is that every customer you have really is your only customer, at least as far as they are concerned. They expect you to treat them with unsurpassed care and professionalism, as though your entire success depends upon their ongoing satisfaction — which it does. Of course, if your consumer base happens to number in the thousands (or more), then you may find it difficult to provide that level of personal service to everyone with whom you do business. Fortunately, the same advanced technology that allows your business to reach millions of buyers at once also makes it possible for you to keep those buyers feeling special.
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a technology that allows any business of any size to collect, analyze, and retrieve all of the vital information associated with its customer base.
CRM can be as sweeping and varied as you can imagine, which means it can be as simple or as complicated as you wish. However, all of that complexity isn’t always a good thing; approximately 72% of CRM users say that they would trade functional complexity for a simple CRM that is easier to use. When getting started with CRM, remember to keep it simple. Here are the five core features of CRM that every organization needs:
At its most basic, CRM is a tool designed to help you better connect with your customers. As such, tracking every potential lead as it progresses through the sales pipeline is a feature that no CRM should be without. From first contact, to purchase, and beyond, your CRM should be able to record and retrieve all applicable customer data, and to assist you in managing your contacts by providing calendar and follow-up reminders, creating in-depth tickets for your service department, and developing and sharing client-insights between departments. Properly implemented CRM solutions have been known to improve customer retentions rates by as much as 27%.
It’s nice to be able to access customer data and other important information while sitting in the office. On the other hand, if you can’t access that same information while out making a sales call, then it’s not going to be of much use to your company. Your CRM should be cloud-based, making it accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. This reflects a general trend in the CRM market, with software-as-a-service CRMs expected to make up over 50% of the CRMs available by the end of 2015. Additionally, 81% of CRM users are now accessing CRM software on mobile devices. Choosing a CRM that is completely mobile-compatible will ensure that you have access to your CRM’s complete functionality at all times. In essence, the same CRM solutions that you’d expect in the office need to be available at trade shows, partners’ offices, customer sites, etc.
Data is only valuable if you have the ability to refine it into something actionable. Your CRM needs to be able to do more than simply gather and store massive amounts of information; it needs to be able to mine that information, analyze it, and quickly present clear and understandable conclusions that can be used to inform future business decisions.
Your business has its own unique challenges. Your customers have their own unique needs. So it doesn’t make much sense for you to be using a CRM that can’t be customized to suit your unique situation. A flexible CRM is one that allows you to sync it with your operating systems, gives you full control over what kind of data is being mined, and makes it possible for you to update and reevaluate your processes as you go. Remember: Your CRM should be working for you, not the other way around.
Despite all of the advantages of investing in CRM, the fact of the matter is that CRM won’t increase your revenue by a single cent unless your employees are willing to use it. For this reason, finding a CRM that is easy to understand, intuitive to use, and straightforward in its reports may make all of the difference. Don’t take on more than you can handle, because an over-complicated CRM may be just as bad as having no CRM at all.
Every customer wants to feel like your entire business revolves around them, and with CRM, you can make that dream a reality. Just make sure that your CRM isn’t making things more complicated than they need to be. When it comes to helping your organization achieve total customer satisfaction, keeping it simple may be the best choice that you can make. Understand your needs, do your research, and find a simple CRM that is perfect for you. After all, business is complicated, but your CRM doesn’t have to be.
Want to learn about the basics of CRM and how it can transform your business? Download the free e-book.