Customer relations include much, much more than the occasional customer service call. To manage relations with thousands or millions of customers over various touchpoints, businesses need best practices for customer relationship management, as well as the right technology to implement them.
Customer Relations Management Defined
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a term that refers to practices, strategies, and technologies that companies use to manage customer data, including interactions with a customer at various touch points: website, customer service call, email, and so on.
CRM systems refer specifically to the technology used in customer relationship management. These systems are designed to compile and store information about customers across different channels, making it available for sales, marketing, customer service, and other customer-facing functions. This information can include things like basic contact data, demographic data (location, age, gender, etc.), spending patterns, likes and dislikes, and anything else that might offer insights into customer buying behavior.
CRM is more than just collecting data and making it available, however. When used correctly, CRM should provide insights, make customer relations stronger, and improve the overall customer experience. A good CRM system can help by enabling you to:
- Centralize Your Data: Too often, important contact information and marketing data is stored in individual accounts and system, making it too fragmented to use in any thoughtful sort of way. A good CRM system centralizes that data, making it easier to update, manage, and use it.
- Take Action When Needed: With a little setup. Most CRM systems can be set to trigger certain actions when the appropriate conditions are met. For example, you can set an alert to inform you when an account has become inactive, triggering a check-in phone call. Or, schedule a follow-up email to be sent out a certain number of days after a prospect requests information.
- Customize Your Offerings: With enough data, a CRM applications can help reveal patterns in customer behavior, allowing you to tailor offers. This could include highlighting certain products, offering tailored discounts, or bundling high-interest items.
- Provide a Seamless Experience: Consumers increasingly expect a unified, consistent experience with a company or brand across locations and touchpoints. Using a CRM enables customer-facing staff to have access to all the information they need, no matter when or where the customer makes contact. For example, a hotel chain can deliver consistent service with a personal touch at each of its location, on the phone, and online by using a centralized CRM system.
- Target Your Most Valuable Customers: Which customers are your most loyal repeat customers? Which have the biggest spend? And which are most likely to respond to an upsell offer? Answering these questions requires data. With that data, you can target your most valuable customers and concentrate marketing spend on those segments.
- Tailor Marketing Messages: The better you segment your market and tailor your messages for each segment, the more likely it is that you will get a positive response. This requires a CRM system to accomplish.
- Optimize Your Sales Force: Your sales team needs to know which prospects are in what stages of the sales funnel at all times. By keeping track of this information in a central database, you can have your team focus on the most likely conversions while ensuring that other prospects are moving down the funnel in a timely way. IN fact, a good CRM can improve sales efficiency by up to 34%.
- Improve Customer Service: Nothing turns an annoyed customer into an angry customer faster than being passed along a chain of customer service reps, none of whom know anything about the customer or their history. With a CRM, your customer service personnel can have that data at their fingertips, which in turn makes the customer feel heard and valued.
- Leverage Existing Customers: Your best, most loyal customers are also the ones who are most likely to be your champions. Once you discover who these are (see #5 above), ask them for testimonials and referrals. If they are active on social media (information that is hopefully in your CRM system, as well), ask them to leave a review or comment on their experience.
CRM Software in the Cloud
NetSuite’s advanced CRM system is the only cloud solution offering an authentic 360-degree view of your customer, providing your sales, and customer service teams with access to key customer data. With our help, you will find the proper support and long-time relationship needed to take your business to the next level. Take a product tour and contact us to learn about the next steps.