How Can Customer Relationship Software (CRM) Improve Business Productivity?
By Alex Famili
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a companywide philosophy designed to streamline the way your company interacts with customers in order to increase loyalty, minimize risk and decrease the cost of doing business.
Customers are integral to any company therefore making a concerted effort to manage this aspect of your business at an optimum level a good investment for an organization of any size. There are tools available that are specifically designed for small and medium sized businesses.
A CRM tool combines information from all data sources to provide one centralized view of each customer in real time. This allows your entire customer facing team to make decisions about sales, customer services, marketing and other tactics.
Just think about the benefits of modernizing your business communications and making the best use of your employees’ time and resources. Basic CRM packages typically include sales, accounting and contact management solutions. Here are just some examples of how a CRM tool will improve your work flow.
* Keep everything in one place: The CRM tool maintains a contact centric repository of data and client information that everyone on your team can access at any time.
* Minimize risk: If a sales person leaves the company, you can determine what deals are pending or what projects are in progress. Avoid delays because a team member or project manager called in sick.
* Save time: Some people spend a great deal of hours mapping out a task list. The CRM tool does this for you. If you set a reminder in the system to call a client on a specific day, the system will include that task on your list for the specified day. You can also assign tasks to others.
* Instant sales reporting: With a click of a few buttons each sales person can turn in their sales activity for the month or other specified period. Some systems allow these reports to be automatically generated and emailed. This information can be used for sales forecasts and budgeting.
* Marketing: Because the system allows you to call up data in a multitude of ways, you have the ability to put together a client list with specific profiles or classifications that you set. Easily email, fax, or print labels for highly targeted marketing campaigns.
* Value: Because you always have up to date information about customers and prospects, you can accurately forecast sales, set budgets or determine a fair price for your business if you’re looking to sell.
* Coaching: Discover how your employees are interacting with customers and prospects. Determine why the deal was lost, what transpired and then make a note in the system about when their current contract with the competitor is set to expire.
* Increase efficiency: Calculate the potential value of each company in order to best allocate resources.
* Make the relationship more meaningful and improve the customer experience: Learn more about your customer’s needs, behaviors and motivations for purchasing. This will improve customer service, customer targeting, increase close rates, and streamline sales and marketing processes.
Find the right CRM tool and make it work for you. There are many CRM solutions available. Some allow you to purchase software and others exist totally in the cloud (internet based subscription services). It’s important to evaluate and demo several options before making a decision.
A CRM tool may be packaged with other system wide business computing solutions you already have or are looking to purchase. The real challenge you face with implementing a CRM tool is the buy in and willingness of your team to accept change.
Consult with the team to determine what customer information is relevant and how it will be used. Use this opportunity to reengineer processes and automate tasks. Ask the service and/or software provider how long the implementation will take. Simple functions should take about a month while more systemic changes can take upwards of a year or more. If introduced and executed correctly, a good CRM tool is worth the investment and time cost required to implement.
Alex Famili is the co-founder and principal of Twist Solutions, LP. Twist is a Dallas, Texas based Computer Support Company specializing in computer system management and Computer Support.
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