Archive for October, 2013

Why should SME’s be using Customer Relationship Management


During a recent Business Exposure Group meeting we collected the following comments.

It’s a way of managing your business interaction with current and future customers.  But most companies fail to use it on the premise that too much time is spent entering the information so that it is comprehensive, at the expense of engaging with customers.

However, any CRM system only needs 1) the prospect information 2) when and what was talked about 3) the follow up date 4) who is assigned to it 5) the value of the opportunity.

With this information you can establish whether your existing client relationships have the potential to grow.  Because retained customers are more profitable.  Firstly, customer acquisition costs are high, so they do not become profitable unless they are retained.  Secondly, customers buy more over time, thirdly, satisfied customers make referrals and fourthly, retained customers tend to be less price sensitive.  So just on the current client relationships an engaging touch point campaign which is hands on will increase sales by up to 30%.

CRM is a combination of people, process and technology which seeks to understand your company’s customers.  Because the more you know your customers and build a strong relationship, the greater your odds of winning the minds and wallets of your customers in this competitive market.

Some of our members were content to use Outlook and Excel to record their contacts and activities.  But it is not very efficient and cannot be seen by everyone at a glance.  More worrying it can be downloaded and pinched by a member of staff moving on, leaving your business vulnerable.

Using an integrated CRM system will have one database with all customers in a single place.  Which, if used properly will be the perfect vehicle for identifying groups of like-minded customers to target, allowing you to sell more to existing customers and prospects, creating the process to manage leads from receipt to getting an order, arranging numerous touch points with potential customers and monitoring that your staff are on top of the job.

The majority of the group confirmed that their sales people spent too much time on admin and not enough time selling.  With CRM, the sales team can easily see the relationship history.  So they are well armed to overcome objections and have no excuse to not following up sales opportunities which are tracked and reminders raised via the CRM system.

So, it all seems straight forward, however, because we have amassed so much data over recent years we don’t know how to effectively manage information.  Don’t try and back date, first start from now and implement a simple robust system, otherwise CRM will have lost its focus and worth and will become taken over by the IT function within your business.  The customer experience is core to client relationship management.  It is now becoming mainstream and I suggest that in a couple of years’ time we won’t even be having this conversation.

A contemporary well run business must have a CRM system to be able to sort out opportunities and be competitive.  Consider the following when deciding on the type of system.  It could be a cheap off the shelf cloud based system or a bespoke built arrangement, nevertheless it does need to address. 1) Are we B2B or B2C 2) How do we access, from home, on the road or in the office? 3) What are the main objectives eg is it for sales lead management, or marketing campaigns? 4) Which teams need to use the system – sales, marketing, customer service, operations? 5) Does it need to link to other systems? 6) How will emails link? 7)  Do you need the phones to link and do you need to record telephone calls straight to your CRM system?

All are well worth considering to get it right, but we all agreed around the table that no amount of technology can help manage your customers if you don’t have it in you in the first place to implement and record the information.

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