It’s been predicted that the customer relationship management (CRM) market will reach a whopping $36 billion by 2017, but what is CRM, really? When most business leaders hear the term customer relationship management, they picture a set of tools and systems designed to effectively track and record customer data, and to coordinate company resources with the goal of providing a better B2B customer experience. But while this idea of CRM is actually fairly accurate across the board, it fails to take into account the advantages that CRM offers B2C organizations.; But why make a distinction at all? In the end, business is business, regardless of who the customers are, right? Well, not exactly. There are some significant differences between how B2B and B2C businesses operate, specifically where marketing and sales are concerned.
Those marketing to businesses generally have more success when they focus on the logic of the purchase; they lay out an intelligent, convincing argument, demonstrating the tangible benefits of the product or service that they are offering. Conversely, those marketing towards individual customers are better served when they create an emotional connection between the product/service and the buyer. Additionally, B2C businesses generally have more customers than B2B organizations, but with notably smaller amounts of money being exchanged per sale. As such, B2C businesses may have different CRM needs than those that operate strictly within B2B industries, and CRM is generally associated with those organizations that sell to other businesses. However, that doesn’t mean that B2C organizations should neglect CRM.
As the name suggests, the main focus of CRM is the customer , and given that B2C businesses usually have a much larger number of customers than B2C businesses, keeping track of the history and preferences of each individual customer becomes much more difficult. Creating targeted, personalized messaging for each customer is likewise a monumental task — one that would be functionally impossible without computer assistance. Additionally, being able to connect with customers and potential customers on an emotional level, such as through targeted marketing campaigns and social media posts, can have a significant impact on customer acquisition and retention. In fact, in a Capterra survey of CRM users, customer satisfaction and customer retention were the two most often-cited aspects of business that were significantly impacted by the introduction of CRM . With so much riding on the satisfaction of individual customers, B2C CRM software makes it possible to form real connections with individual customers, which is the key to B2C success.

While there are many CRMs available on the market, most are designed specifically with B2B in mind. Because of this, finding a B2C CRM solution that fits the needs of your organization can be difficult. In order to avoid committing to the wrong CRM, B2C companies should first know what sort of features a B2C CRM tools needs to have in order to be effective. Here is a quick breakdown of the elements of superior B2C CRM Systems:

  • Detailed Customer Tracking and Contact Management
    As mentioned above, the customer is the most important part of customer relationship management. So, your CRM should be able to track customers through the entirety of the sales journey, recording any relevant information along the way. This will enable your various teams sales teams (and other departments) to easily access the right data to be able to provide a seamless and positive customer experience. This is vital to B2C customer management, where organizations generally are dealing with large, diverse customer populations.

  • Cloud-Based Operation
    The cloud provides many distinct advantages to B2C businesses. Cloud-based B2C CRM systems require no expensive hardware installation or maintenance, operating instead from off-site servers accessed via an internet connection. This means that B2C teams can access the same important data from any device or platform, eliminating potential compatibility issues. For B2C organizations that deal with high volumes of individual decision makes, the ability to access important customer information from anywhere, at any time, and to coordinate efforts with others in the company means a more mobile sales force capable of guiding prospective clients through the sales pipeline more effectively.

  • Real-Time Updating
    B2C customers are more likely to move through the sales pipeline quickly, so if you end up having to wait for batch-processed customer data, you might find yourself lagging behind. CRMs that instead rely on real-time processing, updated instantaneously and capable of giving you an up-to-the-minute picture of exactly where your customers are and what they need, ensure that everything keeps moving at the right speed.

  • Advanced Reporting
    No matter how much data is being captured and analyzed, it won’t do your business much good unless that data can be efficiently and effectively shared with decision makers. CRMs that use data visualization, usually in the form of interactive dashboards featuring diagrams, graphs, charts, and other image-based representations can give authorized users all of the important customer information and business data they need at a glance. This is especially advantageous for B2C businesses, who need to maintain an accurate awareness of their constantly shifting customer base.

  • Multi-Channel Integration
    Social media is one of the most used customer service channels today, with as many as 67% of customers using social media sites (such as Facebook and Twitter) for customer-service, and 33% of customers naming social media as their prefered customer service channel. That said, email, message boards, live-chat, and the telephone are all effective customer-service options. Having a CRM that can be integrated into the entire range of customer service channels means that your B2C business will be able to assist even the most technologically diverse clientele.
  • Extensive Automation
    Managing a B2C customer base is a full-time job, one that is likely already stretching the capabilities of your sales team. As such, ongoing tasks such as forms, reports, confirmation emails, follow ups, and the other bits of tedious-yet-necessary minutiae can end up using valuable sales-team time. Some CRMs are designed to be able to automate many of the peripheral tasks associated with sales and customer service, freeing up your sales teams to pursue more pressing responsibilities.

Salesforce has long been recognized as the industry leader in CRM, having set the modern standard for what a CRM should be able to do. But while many B2B businesses swear by the Salesforce CRM toolset, the truth is that Salesforce is just as effective for B2C organizations. Salesforce is cloud-based, compatible with any platform or device, and designed to continuously capture, analyze, and report on customer and business data. It’s reporting capabilities use data-visualization and interactive dashboards, so that decision makers and other users can see as broad, or as focused a view of the data as they may need. Salesforce CRM incorporates all available customer service channels, and also offers a self-service portals and community forums where customers can come together to crowd source solutions and ideas. Salesforce CRM also offers advanced automation options, so that you can focus on the most important tasks, and let Salesforce CRM do the rest.

CRM isn’t just for B2B businesses. With the right features, B2C CRM can be a powerful, effective tool for improving customer experience, managing contacts, tracking data, and promoting intercompany coordination. And, given that customer satisfaction, contact management, data tracking, and coordination are are arguably the defining factors of any business, leveraging advanced CRM may be the key to B2C success.

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