CRM or customer relationship management is all about keeping your customers happy. When customers are satisfied they are willing to buy more products from you or, at least, they won’t leave you. Happy customers also tell their friends about your product when asked for recommendations.
However, keeping customers happy requires a personalized approach. Companies need to understand customer likes and dislikes and their potential issues about the product. This requires a lot of data digging and time to deal with each customer. Rushing things, in fact, may backfire. A Gallup study showed that many customers only share their positive experience with a product when the service is perceived as “thorough and friendly.” Treating customers in a hurry can kill a sale, the study suggested.
Busy companies turn to CRM software so they can nurture customer relationships with more attention, while they run the other aspects of the business. Equally important, CRM software can help them surface insights for better management decisions because, when customer data is organized in a meaningful way, companies understand their customer buying behavior deeper, and essentially, their market better.
In this article, we’ll discuss the following:
CRM Software Features
Various CRM solutions will have different sets of features, but they usually include these six major applications to help companies manage customer relationships. These are the main functions you want to focus on when assessing a solution. The following are standard parts in this type of software:
Contact management. This module is used to record customer data. This includes their contact details, past transactions, calls, emails, etc. The software can aggregate all these information and show companies some patterns and trends for insights. Zoho CRM is a good case of a system with excellent contact management.
Lead management. Companies need to engage prospects properly to convince them to make the purchase. Lead management helps marketers trace all communication efforts and related activities with prospects to see how the leads are progressing. The goal of lead management is to win the deal at the end. A good example of an effective lead management tool is Pipedrive, where a salesperson can clearly follow a visual pipeline from “untouched leads” to “contact made” and to “proposal presented” and “in negotiation.” Marketers can create their own stages to suit their process.
Campaign management. This module helps companies run email marketing or advertising campaigns. It is connected to the contact management module to target the right recipients of the campaign. It also links to the lead management module, where new leads generated by the campaign are entered. More importantly, this module can help rate the success of a campaign. In HubSpot, for example, marketers can set goals to measure the campaign’s success. Goals can be set in stages like website visits, leads made, and customers converted.
Social media management – This module links to social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest so companies can manage their social pages from a single dashboard. Instead of opening separate pages to check for posts, the module notifies the manager of the latest posts from the company’s different accounts.
Automation – This automates predictable marketing tasks of the company. Such modules include administrative processes like entering information in the customer database or scheduling email blasts. Companies can set the software to run specific tasks so they’re free to do other important things. Likewise, automation can speed up the delivery of services. For example, a campaign that promises to send a free e-book can be automated once the parameters are met. Automation can also speed up customer service, especially in resolving FAQs.
Reporting and dashboards – This module generates reports based on data gathered in the other modules. Reports give companies insights on market trends or customer buying behavior and a summary of how the business is performing. On the other hand, dashboards let managers get an overview of reports without having to dig into files.
Business types where CRM software is a good idea
There are certain business types where CRM software is most useful. Here are some of them:
- Large companies with plenty of customer types and segments. Each customer type will have its set of data and parameters. CRM software can help them navigate through tons of information and sort data by customer type.
- Companies with a long range of product line will have volumes of different data based on product type. Again, consolidating and sorting data here is faster with the use of CRM software.
- Small companies that are growing fast also need CRM software. They will need to compile customer information as it comes in an organized manner. CRM software helps them to do this in the background, while the owner can focus on strategizing plans for the future
- Membership businesses like publications, gym enrollment, and service subscription
- Any other business that wants to conduct CRM should start using the software.
Business scenarios when CRM software is not necessary
Not all companies need CRM software. To find out if you don’t need one, at least for now, check if you fall under these circumstances:
- Companies with a small volume of customer data may not need CRM software for now. The best value of this software is to aggregate tons of data. Without much information, the company has little to feed the software to generate insights. It is best that these companies concentrate first on getting more customers, then they can start using CRM software.
- Some companies that offer commodities with predictable supply and demand behavior may also not benefit from CRM software. Selling gasoline, for example, is predictable since everybody with a car will buy this product. Other commodities like fruits and vegetables, grains, and livestock supplies may not require much insight processing as their supply and demand pattern follows a repetitive path. People consume them on a daily basis and they are expected to buy the same products thereafter.
- Companies that sell rare products or with limited supply. With limited supply, these companies are not expected to get any more customers than what they have now. These companies are more concerned on where to source supplies than finding customers.
- Companies that don’t directly sell to customers or business clients. A good example of this is pharmaceutical companies that sell prescription drugs. Their products are not sold to customers, the patients, but are distributed through the recommendation of doctors and dispensing authority of pharmacists. In this case, there are no customer data to feed into CRM software.
Advantages of CRM solutions
You keep customers happy
CRM software improves your understanding of the customer. Beyond listing contact details, you can enter customer transactions, preferences, complaints, requests, and other related data. When you know more about your customers, you can provide them with offers that tickle their interest or address their needs. This leads to satisfied, ergo, happy customers.
CRM software also aligns the activities of selling, marketing, and servicing to manage customer expectations. Customer service agents can check what the salespeople or marketers have promised customers, so the former can respond accurately to complaints. Conversely, marketers can check for the usual complaints or comments about the product received by customer service agents and address these with right messaging.
You get insights from customer data
You keep track of customer’s purchase behavior. These include:
- Which product is selling most?
- Which is lagging in sales?
- How many are returning to buy?
- Why are customers not returning?
- Are they using credit cards or cash?
- What are they saying about you, if any, on social media?
You also get on top of common complaints, repetitive issues, or new concerns that may affect sales. Before they escalate into a full-blown crisis, such issues can be resolved at once if you know about their existence.
Likewise, CRM software reveals the demographics of customers. The supply and demand cycle is also clearly presented, such as, when you’re selling the highest and lowest of the year.
You can find new sales opportunities in old customers
Another benefit of CRM software is that you can search for customers who have made inquiries for more details about your product. Maybe they are interested to buy a bigger version, an additional accessory, or a new package from you. These are customers who you can sell to again and again or introduce your latest deals with.
You can also see who are the dormant customers through filtering transaction records. You can activate these people, perhaps, with new offers or deals via a campaign.
You use real-time data
The advantage of using fresh data is that your decision or planning is more reliable. This is especially useful if you need the latest information on the ground.
You can generate reports fast
Gathering important data to create a marketing report takes a lot of time. You also need the cooperation of other departments like sales, customer service, and management. In the meantime, you are pressured to meet a deadline.
Locating critical information is difficult if records are kept in different places. CRM software uses a central depository of data, where you can access information shared by other teams, other departments, and even by external parties that you deal with, provided you have given them access.
CRM software also gives you different ways to present the report. You can show graphs, tables, diagrams, or write in long form, depending on what suits you. Even if you’re not familiar with reporting, the software has templates you can just follow.
Likewise, there’s no need to print reports. You can simply send it to your recipients in PDF or Word doc formats. If your boss is away and he is requesting an update, you can send him an email with the report. It’s that fast and convenient.