CRM (customer relationship management) describes all aspects of interactions that a company has with its customers, whether it is sales or service-related. While the phrase customer relationship management is most commonly used to describe a business-customer relationship (B2C), CRM is also used to manage business to business (B2B) relationships. Information tracked in a CRM system includes contacts, clients, contract wins and sales leads and more.
The Customer Relationship Management Strategy
Customer relationship management is often thought of as a business strategy that enables businesses to improve in a number of areas. The CRM strategy allows you to to following:
- Understand the customer
- Retain customers through better customer experience
- Attract new customers
- Win new clients and contracts
- Increase profitably
- Decrease customer management costs
Today’s CRM Solutions
CRM solutions give organizations business data to help provide services or products that your customers want, offer better customer service, help sales teams to cross-sell and up-sell more effectively, close deals, retain current customers and to better understand exactly who your customers are. Organizations frequently look for ways to personalize online experiences (a process also referred to as mass customization) through tools such as help-desk software, email organizers and different types of enterprise applications.
Is CRM Software Difficult to Use?
CRM software has typically been considered difficult to use. As an enterprise application, stability, scalability and security has been the primary focal points of CRM solutions. Usability, was not a key part of CRM which often resulted in failed software projects, largely attributed to undue complexity.
With increased adoption of CRM applications, however, today’s CRM software vendors make usability a central part of their products. To improve usability many vendors today focus on usability issues to make CRM workflow as simple and intuitive as possible, to offer navigation that can be performed in three clicks or less and to ensure CRM software is designed to suit the needs of sales teams.
Technology Impacts CRM Strategies
Technology and the Internet have changed the way companies approach customer relationship strategies. Advances in technology have changed consumer buying behavior, and today there are many ways for companies to communicate with customers and to collect data about them. With each new advance in technology — especially the proliferation of self-service channels like the web and smartphones — customer relationships are being managed electronically.
Many aspects of customer relationship management rely heavily on technology; however, the strategies and processes of a good CRM system will collect, manage and link information about the customer with the goal of letting you market and sell services effectively.
The Business Benefits
The biggest benefit most businesses realize when moving to a CRM system comes directly from having all your business data stored and accessed from a single location. Before CRM systems, customer data was spread out over office productivity suite documents, email systems, mobile phone data and even paper note cards and Rolodex entries. Storing all the data from all departments (e.g., sales, marketing, customer service and HR) in a central location gives management and employees immediate access to the most recent data when they need it. Departments can collaborate with ease, and CRM systems help organization to develop efficient automated processes to improve business processes.
Other benefits include a 360-degree view of all customer information, knowledge of what customers and the general market want, and integration with your existing applications to consolidate all business information.