Despite the complexities of modern business, the key to achieving success is no big secret. After all, every business depends on one thing: customers. Therefore, businesses that provide their customers with an exceptionally satisfying experience are more likely to turn a profit and reach their goals. To deliver this kind of delightful customer experience, you’ll need tools at your disposal, such as customer relationship management software.
The simple truth is that customers prefer to spend money where they feel comfortable. When customers learn they can trust an organization to provide quality services or products, and in a way that is both reliable and competitive, they’ll be willing to go to great lengths to continue doing business with that organization. In order to provide this level of service, businesses need to understand the individuals that make up their customer base. Unfortunately, there’s a big difference between knowing that customers are important, and knowing the customers themselves. With so much data surrounding each and every potential client, the best—and easiest—way to get to know customers is digitally.
Ever since they first became available for commercial use, computers and computer programs have been in the world of business. We use them to help keep track of our schedules, send and receive emails, and track performance. In fact, there aren’t many areas of business that don’t rely on computers. This is because computers are able to process and retain information on a much greater scale than the average employee.
Despite this, many organizations are still neglecting the advantages that computerized systems offer when it comes to maintaining customer relationships. Many businesses are limited to simply creating the occasional spreadsheet, keeping a database of customer contact information or maintaining a record of customer purchase history. For a large number of businesses, direct customer interaction remains surprisingly analogue. This means that when issues arise, or when other customer representatives have to step in to assist clients they don’t normally work with, the entire process has a tendency to grind down into a halt.
The solution to this issue lies in customer relationship management (CRM). What is CRM? CRM takes many forms, but at its most basic, it’s a software system that makes it possible for organizations to manage business relationships and any data associated with those relationships. CRM takes the place of all of spreadsheets, calendars and databases (not to mention the hundreds of sticky notes) that so many businesses have relied on for so many years. In their place, CRM software offers a unified, easily accessible, and multiplatform-compatible system that makes acquiring, organizing, and retrieving client information a breeze.
First and foremost, CRM software is a tool that allows businesses to track and record every interaction they may have with their customers and potential customers. To do this, most CRM systems track emails sent and received, telephone calls made, and customer social media use. They also maintain a database of past customer purchases, as well as any other pertinent customer information (such as demographic data, preferences, key contacts, and any past problems that the customer may have encountered). While this is all very valuable, the highest-quality CRMs take it even further, serving as an easy to follow, real time map of a business’ sales management process, and tracking clients and leads as they progress through the sales pipeline. This allows sales teams to always know exactly where their customers stand, and what steps will be needed to take them closer to sales completion.
A high-quality CRM system can do more than just track and record data; it can actually offer insights into the entire sales process. CRMs can supply relevant data wherever it is needed, providing context for an organization's customer interactions. And, thanks to built in analytics software, CRMs are designed to be able to mine massive amounts of customer information for real, actionable conclusions.
However, if there’s one thing that sets apart high-end CRMs from their more rudimentary cousins, it’s the cloud. The ‘cloud’ is a term that describes the virtual realm of the internet, and when used in conjunction with digital data storage, the cloud references the ability to save and retrieve data through the internet. This means that not only that valuable customer data is kept securely off site (safe from hazards such as local data theft, power outages, and other dangers), but also entire software systems can be accessed via internet connections without the need for locally stored files. Cloud-based CRMs can be used by anyone with the right authorization, from any internet-enabled device, from anywhere in the world.
So, should a customer service representative have to make important calls while traveling, or if a salesperson needs to work from home, they’ll have access to the same invaluable tools and data as those who are working out of the office. This advanced accessibility also allows customer data to be shared between service representatives and across departments, so any employee assisting a customer will be instantly up-to-speed on all relevant data. This cuts down on the annoying and time-consumingly redundant information-gathering sessions that customers often encounter when being passed around between representatives.
Not every business needs the same thing when it comes to CRM. Some smaller businesses may prefer something simple that allows them to put their data in the cloud and access it in real time, while larger organizations might want something even more sophisticated. The best CRM solutions are those that are able to adapt to the changing needs of a business. So, as smaller companies grow in size, or as larger businesses change their focus or direction, the CRM grows and changes along with them. No matter where a business is in its development, or where it may be several years from now, a high-quality CRM will always be a valuable tool, perfectly designed to meet the dynamic needs of a modern company.
What is a CRM? A tool to help businesses manage their customer relationships. But what does CRM mean for businesses? Simple: CRM means success.