Running a business isn’t easy. Especially when you’re in charge of managing customers.
True, some old-school businesses still stick with what’s worked and effectively manage their relationships via conventional spreadsheets, folders and even sticky notes (we know, we know). However, this is hard to track, even harder to share any information with the relevant people and nigh impossible to guarantee an error free process.
We live in a technological age full of feature-rich technology and a steady stream of innovative developments, so why brands would insist on limiting themselves while increasing their workload is beyond us.
This is where CRM comes in.
At its core, Customer Relationship Management systems are driven by exactly what the name suggests – managing your clientele and brand relations. From business partners to walk-ins to your database as a whole, any CRM system specifically developed for the purpose of nurturing your vital consumer relationships. In addition to this, an effective application allows for the storage and management of Data while boosting organisation, time-management, internal processes, efficiency and your overall brand experience.
Biting? Here’s more.
Although the earliest CRM software was released about midway through the 90’s, the needs of modern business solutions have necessitated their increased popularity within the last decade. Make no mistake, these can be powerful tools if used correctly, and many Fortune 500 companies have seen vastly accelerated growth as a result of them.
But I’ve never heard of it, what does it do?
Well, the literal definition (as the name suggests) is a customer relations navigation tool. However, such a “meh” description doesn’t even scratch the surface of either the complexity or magnitude of the correct CRM Platform. A more comprehensive unpacking of the term would indicate an application that helps manage your sales pipeline and teams.
Your conventional Excel worksheet may be effective, but it has its limitations, which any decent software can easily surpass. Not only does a programme manage your relations, it offers tangible, real world benefits aimed at improving overall performance, driving sales and vastly increasing revenue. You can report, measure or track your data, personalise your communications and usher in smarter, more cost-effective forms of marketing. In terms of the sheer volume of available information available for scaling and measurability, the data is staggering.
Here are but some of the ways a CRM system differs from a conventional Excel worksheet:
With an old Excel spreadsheet, you might track:
Names, contacts, purchasing information, customer demographics and other basic data. A CRM lets you keep tabs on all the above plus lead scoring, triggers, notes, pipeline information, complete reporting breakdowns, analytical information on the size of the company and, ultimately, a plethora of in-depth information on both your database and their respective purchasing patterns.
We like to think of CRM’s as the world’s best pet – the more attention you give it in the form of Data, the more it loves you back with tangible dividends.
So, let’s talk CRM systems…
Essentially, there are three types of CRM software, which perform different functions and offer solutions relevant to specific industry types. Without further ado, these are as follows:
The primary function of Operational CRM is, as the name suggests, streamlining your operations (or, at least, that’s the dictionary definition). In reality, the system automates sales and marketing but also services processes, with its primary function being the conversion of leads into contacts while process capturing important details.
In simple terms, Operational CRM allows you to deal with the needs of existing customers yet simultaneously assist with acquiring new ones. No, it’s not a miracle robot worker, but rather draws on modules to incorporate contact and lead management while assisting with the marketing side of things. Campaign management, outgoing comms tracking, service automation, call management, monitoring, KPI alignment and overall storage are all encompassed in this system – which makes it perfect for linear sales models which focus on new business and can benefit from high levels of automation.
In this bad boy, Data is key, with emphasis on primary functions that include Data analysis, customer insights and overall management. It enables efficient decision making and allows for full tracking of campaign effectiveness.
The basic premise involves the amalgamation of your sales and customer service info to enhance overall relationships. It draws on data from multiple channels before funnelling these into a more structured layout, thereby allowing your brand to implement your preferred methodology and assess KPI’s.
Since this approach is more Data driven, financially led management companies with a heavy focus on account management will benefit the most from Analytical CRM. You’ll be able to collect, evaluate, store and process info from every department and base your marketing accordingly.
Companies that run an account management driven sales procedure with a finance led management style will find the analytical CRM well suited for their purpose. It will be able to collect, store and evaluate information provided from all departments, helping to plan marketing campaigns based upon accurate data.
Collaborative (Strategic) CRM:
On the other end of the spectrum, this approach encourages integration between departments, amalgamating info from sales, support, human resources, marketing and more.
The overall goal of said process is to enhance your overall experience through improved brand loyalty and increased sales. The feedback gathered from this Data collection can be used to proactively connect with targeted consumers and make your brand truly shine.
Companies with many departments spread across a variety of locations (such as franchises or multi-national corporations) will benefit from this approach, as it allows for full internal transparency and a seamless brand experience. Your brand will be able to share and enjoy client information with all members of your team, meaning sales can work in tandem with marketing and vice versa.
Ultimately, a CRM platform can be a game changer, but the wrong one can prove redundant for your business. As with the adoption of any new technology, the first point of contact needs to be assessing your business needs and processes before identifying the perfect solution to propel your brand to the next level.
Once you understand your goals and the best system to align with them, the rest is easy. All you have to do is CRM to the party.