CRM (Customer Relationship Management) 101 – The Basics

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“At the heart of a CRM strategy is the customer. In the CRM approach, all of
the company’s activities are geared towards the customer. The aim is to
increase customer satisfaction and thereby strengthen customer loyalty”.

Smart CRM

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It is a strategy used to learn more about customers’ needs and behaviors in order to develop stronger relationships with them. Good customer relationships are at the heart of business success. There are many technological components to CRM, but thinking about CRM in primarily technological terms is a mistake. The more useful way to think about CRM is as a strategic process that will help you better understand your customers’ needs and how you can meet those needs and enhance your bottom line at the same time. This strategy depends on bringing together lots of pieces of information about customers and market trends so you can sell and market your products and services more effectively.

According to The Marketing Donut, 63% of people requesting information about your product now will not purchase for at least 3 months – and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy. Tipically, the percentage of sales are made 2% at the first contact, 3% at the second contact, 5% at the third contact, 10% at the fourth contact and 80% at the fifth to twelfth contact.

The idea of CRM is that it helps businesses use technology and human resources to gain insight into the behavior of customers and the value of those customers. With an effective CRM strategy, a business can increase revenues by:

  • providing services and products that are exactly what your customers want
  • offering better customer service
  • helping sales staff close deals faster
  • retaining existing customers and discovering new ones
  • cross-selling products more effectively

It doesn’t happen by simply buying software and installing it. For CRM to be truly effective, an organization must first understand who its customers are and what their value is over a lifetime. The company must then determine what the needs of its customers are and how best to meet those needs. For example, many financial institutions keep track of customers’ life stages in order to market appropriate banking products like mortgages to them at the right time to fit their needs. Next, the organization must look into all of the different ways information about customers comes into a business, where and how this data is stored and how it is currently used. One company, for instance, may interact with customers in a myriad of different ways including mail campaigns, Web sites, online stores, call centers, mobile sales force staff and marketing and advertising efforts. CRM systems link up each of these points. This collected data flows between operational systems (like sales and inventory systems) and analytical systems that can help sort through these records for patterns.

How can you tell when to start using CRM? You need CRM when it is clear you don’t have an accurate view of who your customers are and what their needs or desires are or will be at any given stage in their lives. If you are losing customers to a competitor, that’s a clear indication that you should improve your understanding of your customers. After you’ve started one, break your CRM project down into manageable pieces by setting up pilot programs and short-term milestones. Start with a pilot project that incorporates all the necessary departments but is small enough and flexible enough to allow tinkering along the way. Be thoughtful about what data is collected and stored. The impulse will be to grab and then store every single piece of data you can, but there is often no reason to store data. Storing useless data wastes time and money.

MI Group provides a robust and comprehensive CRM service. Give it a try! Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter @MIGroupUSA @ShopBVM @MIGroupJamaica

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