R Is For Relationship

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Customer Relationship Management is an often used tool in business, however relationship is cut short sometimes. Here's how to get back to its real meaning!

Customer Relationship Management is often referred to as the strategies and technologies that a business implements to gain, record and evaluate the interactions with customers and prospects. CRM software is used in almost every business that operates in one form or another but it is widely feared that many businesses have lost touch with the ‘relationship’ aspect and it has slowly become merely a one dimensional part of the sales process within the daily running of the business.

Is CRM For Startups?

Some startups or small businesses choose to dismiss CRM Software, believing that they don’t need it because they are too small or it is too costly, but the truth is that there is truly a system for everyone and many of them are scalable, allowing you to increase the user count as the business grows. Even when not being used to their full potential CRM programs are an excellent tool for data management; allowing you to keep track of all customer information within a ‘contacts’ section. There are a range of functions that should become integral within any business model regardless of size or stature; ‘Activities’ can track every email and telephony interactions that takes place with clients and leads. ‘Dashboard’ or ‘Pipeline’ – arguably the most important screen CRM. The purpose of this screen is to display what is happening within the business at a glance; from current leads, sales that are in the pipeline and where leads have come from, its critical information for ANY business, providing insights into other areas of business, for example, enabling you to determine which marketing methods are providing an ROI. You may not need to set up complicated work flow processes as a start-up, but you should know what and who within the business is profitable from the word go.

“You are only as good as the information you put in”, we have all been subjected to this cliché at one point in our working lives, and while the statement is only wholly true, how you use that information is just as important. As a start-up, you may have spent money acquiring marketing leads or if you are more established, you (hopefully!) have a great sales team that are asking the right questions, but this information then lays stagnant once it has been entered into the software then the time and money has been entirely wasted. The point here is, you must be disciplined in acting on it.

What Can CRM Do For Your Business?

CRM software is not just a static reporting tool, it’s not JUST a technology – it’s a business aid that can assist in creating an ethos of organization, customer satisfaction and increased communication. To be effective within a business, it needs to be coupled with the right company culture. It is vital that the entire team within a business fully understand the value of the software so that its benefits can be realized, this couple with a clear and concise communication calendar not only sets the level of expectation when it comes to the consistency of contact with customers, but also the quality. Once this has been set up as a work flow process within the software, you have then truly created a tool that is capable of educating and supporting and both your staff and customers, not only in their individual journeys, but also with each other.

For staff, it provides a pool of easily accessed contact and service information, traditionally only on a one-sided level; for team members to gain a deeper level of customer understanding, we suggest that our staff and clients to add fields for mission statements and core values, by understanding what they are aiming to achieve within their business will enable you to find the right products and services in a genuine and authentic way. It is also not unheard of to add the birthdays of those within a business added to give an unexpected, personal touch – perhaps a new concept, but can set your business apart in a competitive industry – treating clients as a person rather than a means to a monetary transaction. By adding fields that specifically contain customer’s goals and values you can inspire your team to hold these at the heart of the customer interactions, to really think about which products and services will suit their business and strengthen the relationship, creating a culture that is truly customer centric.

CRM To Gain A Competitive Edge

The digital revolution that is taking place means genuine interactions and relationship building is the only way to gain a truly competitive edge and deliver a customer experience that is compelling.
Many businesses are guilty of making the mistake of limiting access to strictly those within the sales team, adopting an outdated view that it is merely a ‘sales tool’. Chances are that customers will deal with more than one employee within a business, and it’s imperative that the staff have a high level of customer awareness, CRM can be a vital tool with regards to this and it is therefore vital that CRM software is available to everyone within the business, not the sales team exclusively. The digital world has empowered customers and heightened their expectations, streamlined communications should be exercised when it comes to internal communication as well as external.

While CRM software is an invaluable tool for qualifying leads, prompting communication that turns them into customers, business should also use it as an aid in customer retention, up selling to existing customers can offers a far higher ROI. When we stop focusing purely on acquisition we provide a better level of service to current customers, who in return will attract new business to you – good business brings business. The people within a business count, they are driving force behind its success and they can lead to its downfall. That’s why the strategic focus should yet again be shifted away from the technology and onto the people using it; they need to be educated around the true value that the technology can offer when used in conjunction with strong relationship building tactics.

I strongly advise companies to return to its true meaning Customer Relationship Management; when you use the software to truly build relationships with your customers, you will be adding sustenance to your business.



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