Customer relationship management (CRM) is hardly a new concept. It’s been around in some fashion for as long as there have been companies.
But, a series of technological advances over the past decade has turned CRM into a sophisticated, cutting edge approach to business. Many companies, however, are not taking full advantage of this powerful framework even if they have invested in a CRM solution.
In this article I will discuss where many businesses go wrong with CRM.
What is CRM?
CRM is fundamentally a systematic approach to handling customer relationships. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support. For small businesses, a CRM may simply consist of a contact manager system which integrates emails, documents, jobs, faxes, and scheduling for individual accounts.
What this means on a practical level is that CRM solutions provide you with the customer business data you need to help you provide services or products that your customers want, provide better customer service, cross-sell and up sell more effectively, close deals, retain current customers and understand what makes your customer tick.
How the Internet Has Changed CRM
The Internet and the technology that defines its use today have changed the way companies approach CRM strategies precisely because these advances have changed consumer buying behavior. They also provide new platforms and mediums that companies can use to communicate with customers and collect data about them. Today, many CRM tools are online and they include social data as standard aspects of every record. This data then determines the social strategies needed to enhance the customer relationship, improve the customer experience, and collect more precise customer data.
Three of the Biggest Mistakes Businesses Make with CRM
Now that you have some understanding of what CRM is and how it can be used to enhance business-to -customer relationships and communication, here are three of the biggest mistakes I see businesses make with their CRM solutions:
1. Business owners and management lack a unified strategy. The most common reason businesses fail with their CRM is that owners and managers lack a cohesive understanding of where their CRM is supposed to take the business as a whole.
In order to make full use of any CRM solution, you will need to have a detailed strategy up your sleeve. You need to assess your market, understand all that drives it, and be clear about how you plan on incorporating CRM into the way you do business. You also need to have some system in place to evaluate the effectiveness of your CRM strategies. If you do this, you’ll avoid choosing a CRM solution that doesn’t fit your business, or one that may be appropriate now, but it won’t fit your business in the near future. For this reason, it is advisable that you do not rush into the CRM process. You want to be certain that everyone is on the same page and that the goals of CRM are appropriate, attainable, and measurable.
2. Business owners aren’t clear enough about the distinction between CRM tools and CRM in general. Many business owners actually confuse CRM systems tools with customer relationship management in general. They consider CRM to be none other than a fancy customer database or address book. Obviously, CRM tools and CRM as a whole are related, but they are not synonymous. CRM software is simply a set of tools for developing and managing the system itself. But, as much as automation and data collection plays an intergral role in the whole CRM process, you will simply not achieve anything unless you fully understand CRM as an overriding set of processes and strategies. What this means is that you have to first familiarize yourself with CRM in general, and only then should you start looking into the CRM software opportunities out there.
3. Business owners and employees receive inadequate training. Last but not least, many businesses fail at implementing CRM simply because they didn’t properly receive training on how to use it. As a business owner, in order for your CRM to work the way you want it to, you need to be completely sure that you and your employees are using the system properly. Since many CRM solutions can be complex, you will therefore need to provide adequate training in all the system’s intricacies so that employees can can properly implement these tools on the job. Otherwise, any research and data collection will be prone to errors, and they will not wield proper results in the end. CRM training may require an investment of both time and money, but this is something which you need to make sure is carried out.
If they are implemented properly, CRM solutions can significantly enhance the way companies interact with and sell to their customers. But to achieve these results, you want to make sure that you are avoiding the mistakes mentioned above since they can easily eat away any gains you stand to receive.
Lawry Matteson is a content supplier for webCRM – a company providingonline CRM(Customer Relationship Management) solutions since 2002, and he likes writing interesting and useful blog posts on CRM related subjects, problems, their solutions, reviews and provider ratings. For more cloud based SaaS CRM related info take a look at webCRM business blog.