CRM Systems – Vital or just another bit of business kit?

CRM is a strategy for managing interaction with customers and prospects.  The overall goal is to find, attract and win new customers, nurture existing ones, entice former customers back into the fold and reduce the cost of marketing and customer service.

This was the topic discussed by members at the recent meeting of the Business Exposure Group.

Do we really need a CRM system?  A growing business needs to manage relationships more efficiently, and can no longer rely on the old fashioned notes in the diary system.

There are various systems on the market – outsourced cloud based/off the shelf/bespoke.  Offering include sales force automation which reduces the number of salesmen, marketing measures multi-channel campaigns, customer service support which streamlines enquiries, appointment scheduling, analytics, collaboration between teams within a business, create special offers for clients drifting away, spotting profitability, customers historic trends, quote reminders.

What should you look for when purchasing a CRM system and how important is it for your business?  77% of staff don’t embrace new systems and there can be a lack of commitment to using the new system.  It’s important therefore to only choose the tools that you will use in your business.  Salespeople may reject the new system on the grounds that it is time consuming, difficult to learn, inflexible and doesn’t integrate well into their standard procedures.  If you get the right system, then salespeople don’t waste time trying to prioritise leads and lists, they can focus on selling.  Customer service teams don’t ask customers for their details multiple times and don’t have to manually search for their details.  Reports and statistics tracking of customers are instant.  Everything is stored under each customer name in the CRM system.

CRM system should not be viewed as an IT project because it involves the whole business.  Check your current system, it may need updating or replacing.  Does it have these features:

  • Telephone calls straight from the CRM system
  • Live chat to communicate with customers in real time
  • Interactive dashboards for easier business analytics
  • Cloud connected so you don’t have to wait until you’re back in the office to update
  • Email and scheduling software to search enquiries
  • Accounting software to see at a glance what customers might buy

But many say their staff hate their current system.  Is it user friendly?  Is it too complex?  Is it outdated and fails to provide the information you need?  Is your system GDPR compliant? Maybe it’s time to look at upgrading or even changing your CRM system.

So, what is the future for CRM?  It has everything to do with the customer, so that they become brand advocates.  The future is moving away from interacting with customers in the same way.  Messages and information should be bespoke.

Integrate teams – sales/marketing/customer service so that they all have the same perspective of the customers.  Use brand advocates to recommend – use social listening tools, get an alert the moment someone mentions you on social media – social CRM will grow and allow bespoke communications linked into an ‘all in one’ system which enables you to look at the entire customer journey.

Our members left the meeting with lots of useful ideas regarding CRM, realising that CRM is now a vital business tool.

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