As you probably already know, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. But do you know how it can improve how your company does its business? Does one CRM offer a better value over any other? Should you automatically go out and buy the most expensive CRM you can find?
Simply put, the CRM system that you choose is just a tool that will help you realize your business’s potential. Here are three ways that CRM can improve processes at your company.
1. It acts as a smart file cabinet.
In other words, the CRM system in some scenarios is to act as a system to ensure everyone knows the history of the relationship between professional services firms and boutique financial services and their clients. Sometimes the relationships there have been around for 20, 30, or even 40 years. These relationships are long-running and the interaction between these customers, say, and a new customer, will be different. There’s no classic sales focus on the longer-term relationships.
The point of the CRM as a smart file cabinet is to gather and organize as much info is possible, as soon as possible, about clients and potential clients. Typical information gathered includes contact lists, emails, address books, documents, and event planning and/or execution. The system can offer you activity summaries, customer status reports, and prospect status reports.
2. It aids with collaboration and coordination.
In companies that are focused on contracts, account management, and renewal/upsell business, the CRM’s primary use is to facilitate collaboration and coordination among sales, engineering, marketing, manufacturing, support, and service departments. Here, sales and support cycles are typically outlined in up to eight separate yet intertwined stages.
In these scenarios, the CRM system also acts as the file cabinet as mentioned above, and must be integrated with other IT systems to offer (at minimum) daily updates to the customer’s “state of play.” In addition, it will need to have different workflows with alerting emails and prompts to make sure things are going smoothly through the day. Collaboration with customers is permitted via user forums, communities, live-chat windows, and other customer support agents, all of which are integrated with the CRM.
If your business needs a lot of prospect/customer problem solving, a system like Jive or Chatter is a great addition to integrate to improve your organizational responsiveness.
3. It acts as task manager and process driver.
This shows as especially true with organizations that are ready to really integrate their CRM with their business. High-performing gaming, software, B2C electronics, and financial services all need their sales, customer service, and marketing systems to be tightly synchronized.
The sales and support cycles in these businesses will be highly standardized and closely measured. These businesses will typically have multiple sales, marketing, and support processes that work concurrently; for example, enterprise vs SMB sales or standard vs 24-7 support.
Collaboration will be even more tightly integrated in these cases than with others; customer support is provided through self-support portals and call centre phones are linked to the CRM. The CRM needs to be the heart of the machine.
The main purpose of each of these use cases is increased visibility and information sharing. The three CRM case studies as described above can overlap: one area of your business might operate at the coordination and collaboration level while a different area might use the CRM as task master. It all depends on your business’s needs.