All SMEs wage a never ending battle for efficiency and productivity. They also face an uphill struggle to retain their capricious clientele in an era where competition is rife and customers know that they can afford to be fickle. If only there was some sort of way in which organizations could capitalize on the headway that they make with customers by retaining useful and easy to access information on them for future reference.
Fortunately, a CRM can help B2C organizations of all shapes and sizes to do exactly that.
A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management tool. In its simplest terms… It’s essentially a contacts list that can think. It is an invaluable tool in making customer interactions easier and more efficient to manage and schedule while also making for a more efficient and easy to manage pipeline.
CRM software creates a centralized bank of customer and prospect data and makes it easy for your team to track a prospect all the way through the conversion pipeline while also facilitating effective retention strategies.
With a CRM solution, your customer facing employees can log accounts of customer purchases, calls, emails, chat sessions, support instances and more. When a CRM is used effectively, the chances of a customer relationship becoming neglected and a loyal customer slipping through the cracks is greatly reduced.
If you’re in the process of building your business, you may not see the efficacy in investing in a CRM until you at least have customers to manage. While this is understandable, you will likely find that the spreadsheet you use in your first few weeks of trading is hardly capable of tracking your customer interaction and lead conversion. Investing in a CRM before you start trading will allow you to hit the ground running and start trading with optimized conversion rates.
Still not convinced? Read on and we’ll outline 5 reasons why your business needs a CRM as well as offering some useful advice on choosing the right CRM for your business’ specific needs...
Little things can make a big difference to customers. Remembering their preferences and some pertinent information about their lives outside of their interactions with you can go a very long way toward building a great relationship and retaining their custom in the long term.
However, when a customer gets to know a single employee very well, but that employee leaves or takes a sick day when they come into your premises, the other employees do not have access to the information the more familiar employee has stored in their head. As such, the customer experience is bound to be lesser in that employees absence, right?
The beauty of a CRM is that it offers SMEs a one-stop repository for pertinent customer information. Any employee can add to it, and any employee can access it. Thus, even if a customer has a ‘favorite’ employee who knows them well, you can still assure them a level of continuity in customer experience in that employee’s absence with a CRM.
What’s more, when you use a CRM, you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your customer’s potentially sensitive data is securely stored. Imagine if someone picked up a piece of paper with sensitive customer information on it and left it lying around somewhere off of your premises. That could result in a colossal PR black eye and a loss of faith in your brand that could take a lot of time and effort to recover.
Moreover, since many CRM solutions are cloud based, your employees can access customer data even if they are not on-site.
If there’s one thing all SMEs fear, it’s integrating new software into their operations. When employees have to get to grips with new software it usually means down time for training, teething problems while they adapt to the operational changes the software implies and a whole lot of training expense coupled with potential for lost revenue. You won’t get any of that with a good CRM.
Because they are designed to work seamlessly and intuitively with the software your employees use as part of their daily operations, you won’t even need to worry about down time or reduced productivity while your team gets to grips with them.
A CRM is not designed to be a helpful add-on for your operations. It’s intended to be the glue that holds them together; the hub of your sales process. A good CRM allows you to plan your course of action on a step-by-step basis for each customer and then implement it in an effective and accountable way. You can assign leads to specific members of staff based on their skill sets and give employees a greater sense of ownership of their accounts as they guide a lead through the customer journey.
Not only does a CRM allow you to identify and follow up on good quality leads with ease, it also helps you to keep track of the conversion process. It will provide prompts, reminding your team to stay in contact with a them at regular intervals to either help boost conversion rates or ensure that you’re never far from the thoughts of existing customers.
It also helps your team to identify opportunities for appropriate promotions, up-selling or cross-selling increasing not only your value to the customer but the customer’s value to you!
Because the whole customer journey is tracked through the CRM you are spared the potential threats to a consistent customer experience when you encounter employee turnover.
A common gripe among sales professionals is when the administrative aspects of their job get in the way of their ability to chase up leads and close deals before the golden window of opportunity closes. A CRM helps by making the sales process more streamlined and efficient, meaning that sales teams spend less time on tedious admin and more time making money for you and themselves.
What’s more, many sales professionals are lone wolves, chasing down their own targets like the rapacious hunters they are… But caring little for the team or the organization as a whole. CRMs can also help to foster a more cohesive sales team that works together as a unit. It makes it easier to program and co-ordinate customer-facing tasks which can be assigned to members based on their strengths. Thus, multiple team members can have autonomy over different links of the chain while working towards a clearly defined team objective.
Remember what we said about CRMs being a one-stop shop for all different types of information which can be accessed on and off site?
That can be vital in engendering interdepartmental teamwork and co-ordinating for a more cohesive and consistent customer experience. Think of a CRM as a rallying point not just for your sales team but also marketing, development and customer support.
Information extraneous to one department could be extremely useful to another while a key fact gleaned from a customer’s conversation with the marketing team can open up a fantastic opportunity for sales.
No more will customers have to relay the same information to multiple employees again and again ad tedium.
WIth access to a common interface, everyone in your organization can access and add to the data in your CRM for a more consistent and satisfying customer experience that offers a true reflection of your brand’s values.
Hopefully by now you’re sold on the many ways your enterprise can benefit from a CRM… But which one’s right for you? While the decision will depend on a number of factors including the specific needs and size of your operation, key areas you should consider include;
Ease of use- The easier a CRM is to use, the fewer teething problems you’ll have and the more productivity will flourish. Salesforce is widely regarded as the gold standard for ease of use, but may be surplus to many business’ requirements. If you’re looking for a CRM that's intuitive with a modest array of features, try Less Annoying CRM.
Email and Social media connectivity- Communicating with your team through multiple platforms can allow for loss of important customer information, so email and social connectivity are important considerations. For example if you use Slack for internal communications but deal with customer communications through Facebook, Twitter or email, try Base for superior and intuitive connectivity.
Marketing Automation- Marketing automation is a great way to ensure that leads are capitalized upon and that promising prospects don’t slip through your net. For example, some platforms can send a coupon to customers via email 30 days after point of sale to improve retention. Some can even follow up on a prospect for you. They can track and manage prospects and eliminate a lot of chasing down that occupies the time of large, busy sales teams and give them more time to focus on closing deals. Salesforce has some great automated marketing features, as does Apptivo.
So, what are you waiting for? Try out a CRM to see how your business could benefit!