What is CRM?
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategy that companies use to manage interactions with customers and potential customers. CRM helps organisations streamline processes, build customer relationships, increase sales, improve customer service, and increase profitability.
What do people mean when they say CRM?
When people talk about CRM, they might mean any of three things:
CRM as Technology: This is a technology product, often in the cloud, that teams use to record, report and analyse interactions between the company and users. This is also called a CRM system or solution.
CRM as a Strategy: This is a business’ philosophy about how relationships with customers and potential customers should be managed
CRM as a Process: Think of this as a system a business adopts to nurture and manage those relationships.
What does CRM software do?
CRM software records customer contact information such as email, telephone, website social media profile, and more. It can also automatically pull in other information, such as recent news about the company's activity, and it can store details such as a client's personal preferences on communications.
The CRM system organises this information to give you a complete record of individuals and companies, so you can better understand your relationship over time.
CRM software improves customer relationship management by creating a 360° view of the customer, capturing their interactions with the business, and by surfacing the information needed to have better conversations with customers.
Let’s start with the basics of CRM.
Why is CRM important?
CRM enables a business to deepen its relationships with customers, service users, colleagues, partners and suppliers.
Forging good relationships and keeping track of prospects and customers is crucial for customer acquisition and retention, which is at the heart of a CRM’s function. You can see everything in one place — a simple, customisable dashboard that can tell you a customer’s previous history with you, the status of their orders, any outstanding customer service issues, and more.
If your business is going to last, you know that you need a strategy for the future. For forward-thinking businesses, CRM is the framework for that strategy.
How do different business functions benefit from using CRM?
While the importance of CRM has traditionally been as a sales and marketing tool, some of the biggest gains can come in other areas, such as customer service, HR, supply-chain and partner management.
Here’s how different business functions benefit from using CRM:
Sales teams can use CRM to understand their sales pipeline better.
Sales managers can access reliable information about the progress of individual team members in achieving their sales targets, for example, and see how well individual sales teams, products and campaigns are performing too.
Sales reps benefit from reduced admin, a deeper understanding of their clients, and the opportunity to spend more time selling and less time inputting data.
Marketing teams can use CRM to make forecasting simpler and more accurate.
They can get clear visibility over every opportunity or lead, and map out the whole customer journey from enquiry through to sale, so giving them a better understanding of the sales pipeline or prospective work coming in.
It’s also possible to include information from customers’ public social media activity – their likes and dislikes, and their sentiment about specific brands and businesses.
Customer service teams can effectively track conversations across channels.
A customer might raise an issue in one channel – say, Twitter or Facebook – but then switch to email, phone or live chat to resolve it in private.
Without a common platform for customer interactions, communications can be missed or lost in the flood of information – leading to an unsatisfactory response to a valued customer.
Supply-chain, procurement and partner management teams can manage relationships better.
They can track meetings with suppliers and partners, record requests made, add useful notes, schedule follow-ups and stay on top of expected next steps.
Reporting enables businesses to compare the efficiency of suppliers and so manage their entire supply chain more effectively.
The HR team can use CRM to accelerate the recruitment process and track employee performance.
“How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.”
What are the benefits of CRM?
The benefits and advantages of CRM include:
1. Enhanced contact management
2. Cross-team collaboration
3. Heightened productivity
4. Empowered sales management
5. Accurate sales forecasting
6. Reliable reporting
7. Improved sales metrics
8. Increased customer satisfaction and retention
9. Boosted marketing ROI
10. Enriched products and services
Why choose a cloud-based CRM system?
CRM and the cloud computing revolution have changed everything. Perhaps the most significant recent development in CRM systems has been the move into the cloud from on-premises CRM software.
Freed from the need to install software on hundreds or thousands of desktop computers and mobile devices, organisations worldwide are discovering the benefits of moving data, software, and services into a secure online environment.
A cloud-based CRM system has the following benefits:
- Faster deployment
- Automatic software updates
- Reduce costs while scaling quickly
- Work from anywhere, on any device
- Increased collaboration
A cloud-based CRM solution is extremely quick and easy to get up and running as it doesn’t need to go through any laborious installation or implementation process, and there's no hardware to set up or maintain.
This keeps IT costs low and removes the headache of version control and update schedules.
Automatic software updates
Reduce costs while scaling quickly
Generally, cloud-based CRM systems are priced on the number of users who access the system and the kinds of features required.
With reduced up-front costs and consistent, predictable pricing over time, cloud CRM can be very cost-effective in terms of capital outlay. It’s also extremely flexible – offering scaling simply by just adding more people to the system as the business grows.
Work from anywhere, on any device
With a cloud-based CRM system, physically separated teams can work together without the need for significant infrastructure investment. Shared platforms make working together simpler, with common tools, formats and reporting.
Staff from different teams, sites and even territories can easily connect with each other and smartly share data to support the sales effort of the overall team.
See a CRM in Action
That’s a lot of info!
Here’s what you should take away from this article:
- What’s the definition of CRM? CRM refers to how a business manages its relationships with customers and potential customers.
- What’s the most popular form of CRM? The most popular form of CRM uses technology to enable businesses to track and analyse customer interactions.
- Why is CRM important? CRM enables businesses to create more meaningful and profitable relationships with customers, service users, colleagues, partners and suppliers.
- What does a CRM system provide? A CRM system offers a clear overview of customer activity, and then presents that information in the form of a customisable dashboard.
- What are the benefits of CRM? CRM improves sales forecasting and productivity, increases customer loyalty, enables accurate sales reporting, maximises marketing ROI and improves service.
- Can CRM go beyond sales and marketing? While CRM is traditionally seen as a sales tool, it can deliver powerful benefits across the organisation -- from HR and customer service to supply-chain management.
- Why is cloud-based CRM ideal? Cloud-based CRM offers instant deployment, cost-effective scalability, and access from anywhere on any device.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is CRM in simple terms?
What does a CRM system do?
What are examples of CRM?
- CRM as Technology: This is a product that analyses interactions between a company and its users.
- CRM as a Strategy: This is a business’s philosophy about how relationships with customers and potential customers should be managed.
- CRM as a Process: This is the system a business adopts to nurture and manage those relationships.