Customer relationship management (CRM) comprises of all the facets of interaction between a business enterprise and its customers. It is basically a business strategy whose main goal is to build and strengthen mutually beneficial customer relationships. CRM helps business enterprises in the better understanding of their customers, retain their existing customers through enhanced customer experience and increase profitability by attracting new customers and reduce the costs of customer management. Information from various data sources is collected so that a clear picture of individual customers is available in real time.
CRM strategies used to have a technology focused and inside-out design that was meant to manage customer data as well as the customer facing staff. But in the present times, CRM has evolved into an outside-in orientation design with the main objective of delighting and satisfying the customers for common objectives. A study by Nucleus Research has found that for every $1 that is spent, CRM offers a return of $5.60. It is not easy for business enterprises to find an apt CRM vendor as a lot of thought has to be put into the requirements of the customers and how they wish to do business with the enterprise. Only then a solid CRM foundation can be laid and the strategies can be built.
Find below the top six strategies for better Customer Relationship Management (CRM):
- Choose the Right People: Having the right customer service representatives (CSR) to deal with the customers is extremely important to maintain a pleasant relationship between the company and the customers. The company also needs to recognize that just as the customers have different needs, the CSRs do too. A happy CSR results in happy customers. Customer representatives who can handle virtually any issue must be given an opportunity to serve customers from different regions. CSRs with the right training can help business enterprises in the better implementation of their CRM strategies.
- Mobile First Design: Gone are those days when mobile CRM used to be a stand-alone function. Today, everyone uses a mobile device to interact with the company or each other. Close to 1.75 billion people around the world used smartphones in 2014. Customers use their mobile devices to communicate on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. A mobile CRM strategy can drastically improve customer satisfaction, employee productivity and increase business revenue. The interaction with customers is very crucial for businesses as it reveals valuable insights with regard to customer preferences which can be used to handle customers in the right manner. CRM strategies must be implemented through applications that allow direct interaction between the customer and through the phone. Phones must be the customer’s first line of communication with the business enterprise for grievance redressal. A survey found that the productivity of sales representatives increased by 15% when the CRM applications had mobile access.
- Personalization: Business enterprises need to connect with their customers on a personal level in order to establish a long and trust based relationship. This goes beyond just delivering a product or service and is all about building a loyal relationship with the customers which will make them come back again and again. The focus of enterprises must be on personalized customer relations. The customer feels more deeply connected with the enterprise when the customer service is personalized. Personalization can be carried out by taking into account the customer’s comments and feedbacks, purchase history, preferences, personal data, social graph data, third-party demographic data and implement them accordingly so as to bring about improvements in the product or service. Birthday wishes, thank you notes and large discounts on special occasions can make the customer feel special and even helps in building trust and loyalty. A recent study in UK by econsultancy has found that personalization using user preferences, purchase history and other important information has a large impact on return on investment (ROI).
- Leverage Social CRM: Social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are providing customers with a platform to share their experience with regard to a company’s product or service. A study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates has found that 43% of social media engagement by customers was customer service related. Therefore it is difficult to separate social media management from CRM. Devising a social CRM strategy is not an easy task and requires constant involvement from the business enterprise. First and foremost, a good platform must be selected which has rich monitoring, listening and engagement capabilities. Key business enterprise applications such as marketing, sales, commerce, and service must be able to integrate seamlessly with the social platform so that all the customer touch points can be covered. Business enterprises must also make sure that the right resources are available to solve the customer problems. Mismanagement of social help requests leads to frustration among customers and can diminish the brand value. Enterprises need to come up with a client loyalty code for customers who engage exclusively with the brand to increase retention. Social media platform must be used to have a two-way conversation with the customers rather than just bombarding them with information. Monitoring of what customers are saying must be done effectively in order to respond to them in a timely manner.
- Make Use of Analytics: CRM analytics is nothing but a programming system which comprehensively analyzes and categorically organizes data about the company’s customers so that business decisions can be made more efficiently. Business enterprises will be able to learn more about their customer’s buying habits and desires by integrating analytics tools with the CRM apps. The predictive capabilities of analytics have helped in gaining deeper insights about the customers like never before. Enterprises can utilize the existing CRM data to improve customer interactions to a great extent. Another benefit of using analytics is that the business enterprise will be able to generate additional revenue when they are contacted by customers by analyzing customer data in real time and using it more effectively. An added advantage is that social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook can be integrated with analytics tools so that information can be leveraged by enterprises to boost sales. Analytics is also helping enterprises to broaden their CRM data that is helping them to target their marketing resources more effectively.
- All in One System: Business enterprises have always relied on expensive software tools to fulfill multiple functions. But this is not advisable as in the future, a separate set of software pack might be required to implement the different set of functions which can turn out to be quite inconvenient and expensive. The best option that can be considered here is to select a package that incorporates all the functions to enhance integration and streamline various processes. The benefits of such a system are numerous. These systems are easy to learn and allow the day to day tasks to be integrated and automated. It also helps in the tracking of customers from the contact point to the sales pitch and to the sale itself in a more efficient manner.
The most important stakeholder of a business enterprise is its customers. They can shift their loyalty anytime they want as they are said to have limited patience and unlimited choices. Therefore, imperative that business enterprises make concerted efforts to bring about improvements in customer experience. Business enterprises can outsource to an expert customer care service provider for the implementation of a robust CRM strategy in order to fulfill the expectations of their customers. An efficient CRM strategy must be able to harness technology to improve customer involvement and customer experience.