Customer relationship management (CRM) can be described as the art or science of using information to find, acquire and retain customers. It covers a wide range of people, processes, and technology questions associated with marketing, sales, and service. CRM actively deepens the knowledge you have of your customers to meet individual customer needs. It provides a holistic approach that unifies all points of customer interaction.
At the core of any customer-centric business strategy and culture, CRM is supported, not driven, by technology.
Nonetheless, it does involve redesigning some of your functional activities around your customer.
Customer relationship management is not just about buying CRM software technology. However, some technology is required to enable a CRM strategy. Its value and long term benefits are not possible without remembering that the driving force is often human relationships. CRM is repetitive in nature, to be improved on a regular basis – it is not a destination, but a journey.
CRM will transform strategy, business functions and operational processes. Its goal is to retain customers and increase customer loyalty and profitability. In difficult economic environments relationships with customers is your most precious asset and is the foundation to weather economic downturns.
The companies that can weather economic storms have some basic attributes that make them customer -centric. These recession proof attributes include being agile, adaptive, responsive, diversified, customer focused and orientated, having a high tolerance for change and having minimal staffing footprint and overheads. Most importantly however these businesses have stable customer foundations and strong cash flow that must be protected at all costs.
The question is how can CRM solutions help with these attributes?
Selling your products and services becomes more difficult during a recession as your clients and prospects tighten their belts. CRM addresses your ability to address your own cost base by:
- Reducing the cost of acquiring new customers
- Maximising the profitability of existing customers
- Reducing the cost to service customers
- Minimising the cost of sales and marketing
- Optimising your internal productivity rates
Customer Loyalty & Efficiency
Keeping your customers when all your competitors are knocking at their door is fundamental to a stable and sustainable operation. CRM gives you an integrated knowledge about your customers, their issues and requirements from sales and marketing, customer service and your accounting department. Used wisely, CRM will help you:
- Optimise customer loyalty and lock-in
- Minimise customer churn
- Ensure the quality of your service is of the highest standard and meets client expectations
Having a clear and in depth understanding of each of your customers allows you to be proactive and flexible in the products and services you can offer them. CRM with its integrated information can help you by:
- Ensuring maximum revenue from each customer by recognising all the opportunities as opposed to individual ones.
- Minimising loss of future customer revenue through flexible packaged offerings that might include products, services and support.
- Reducing fluctuations in recurrent revenue streams by having longer term contracts in place
- Lowering the chance of customer switching rates through comprehensive and diversified offerings and long term contracts.
Customer centric companies are investing in CRM software to ensure that they excel in their relationships with their customers. The path towards this is a key business strategy, not a technology one whether you decide on an in-house CRM system or take advantage of easy entry web based CRM software system. Ultimately, a CRM solution can be measured by customer retention and referrals, the growth of high value customer segments and the increase in the productivity of your own business.
Antony Dutton is Managing Director and co-founder of Aaromba –
CRM software & service management software specialists.
Aaromba uses best of breed technology and methodologies, designing solutions to improve sales and marketing for CRM software. Working with over 800 clients Aaromba specialises in Microsoft CRM Software and web based CRM software developing comprehensive workflows leveraging its knowledge and best practice methodology to provide performance visibility for management.