If someone asked you what you did for work, you probably wouldn’t say “I’m in the relationship business” (unless you work for match.com). But the fact is that no matter what your company or organization does, you are in the business of relationships. You have to maintain and nurture the relationships between your company and your customers to grow your business to its full potential.
Most organizations have already made the leap to a computer-based CRM or Customer Relationship Management system. (If you’re one of the 9% of U.S. companies that do not use a CRM, it’s probably time to start).
But why are these systems so important? And are you getting the most out of the one you’re using?
How Most Companies Use a CRM
A robust CRM has many different facets. These are just some of the ways that different companies use their CRM.
The most basic function of a CRM is to manage your list of customers. CRM systems make it easy to group customers according to different descriptors, whether that’s geographic location, point in the buying cycle, or date of last contact. When you can sort your customer easily, you are better able to target marketing messages and prioritize sales calls.
Speaking of sales, the sales team is often the first to advocate for a CRM or to complain when it isn’t working correctly. This is because a CRM can quickly become a critical sales tool where sales reps can log their calls and notes, and easily share them with others on their team and around the office. A good CRM will also allow sales teams to set up alerts and automated emails to let them know how their contacts are moving through the buying process and when they are ready for another call.
CRMs have become even more useful as companies have made it possible to access the software in the cloud. Cloud CRMs mean that no matter where an employee is, she can take advantage of the program. Moving a CRM to the cloud has even shown a 15% increase in overall productivity.
How to Take Full Advantage of Your CRM
Because so many companies use a CRM, its advantage is no longer automatic. Instead, companies need to be aware how their CRM can go beyond basic functionality to act as a business advantage.
Collect as Much Data as Possible
Most CRM systems go above and beyond what kind of customer data you normally collect -- the CRM is not simply an online Rolodex. If you are not taking advantage of all the types of data, through your customer service reps and your sales team, you need to think again. The more data you collect, the smarter your decisions about sales, marketing and customer service can be, since they will be based on facts.
While the adoption of a CRM can improve productivity on its own, using it in conjunction with other applications and hardware, like your VoIP phone system, can represent an even bigger benefit. With VoIP integration, customer service reps and salespeople can get all the data they need about a call before they even pick up the phone. A CRM/VoIP integration can make work easier for anyone that uses the CRM or the phone, resulting in improved productivity and measurable impact on your bottom line.
A CRM is no longer a thing of the future. Rather, it is an integral part of how most businesses function. But without the right practices, you may be letting its capabilities go to waste.