Customer Relationship Management – more conveniently referred to as CRM – is the process by which a business handles its relationships with its customers, a group which will comprise of new sales leads, existing customers and clients. CRM plays a central role in the success of modern businesses, regardless of their size. It utilises sophisticated developments in information technology to form the vital database of a business, from which employees can manage their own interactions with customers, and managers can produce an informed view of the effectiveness of anything from sales teams to marketing campaigns.
From an employee perspective, CRM systems help organise and prioritise information about customers to enable the most efficient use of their time. CRM is of particular benefit to those working in customer service or sales teams, as CRM software enables employees to keep notes on any contact they have had (or plan to have) with a particular customer. For instance, should that customer then telephone the company, the employee can see immediately what previous dealings they have had with them, enabling them to deal with the query in the quickest and most effective way possible. There can be no question that this approach retains existing customers and enhances the level of customer service a company is able to offer – and thereby also the reputation of that company.
In a sales context, CRM systems are used to store information about new and potential leads, and enable the allocation of particular leads to certain members of staff. From a management perspective this allows leads to be divided up fairly, as well as being an effective way of ascertaining the sales performance of individual employees. CRM systems also allow sales representatives to record their correspondence and phone calls with prospective customers, which is a highly efficient way of handling large numbers of new leads in a professional and timely manner. Phone calls can be scheduled, and the notes made on a customer record enable employees to remind themselves of what point they were at in the sales process at the last point of contact.
Particularly popular today is web-based CRM software, provided by vendors such as Workbooks.com. This means that all customer records are stored online, allowing employees to access and update information from anywhere, saving a great deal of time if they are out on the road attending sales pitches or meeting clients.
But the scope of CRM goes even beyond that. Capable of pulling up sophisticated reports, CRM applications can tell managers information such as where in the country they are making most sales, so that they can quickly establish where best to concentrate their efforts and reformulate their strategy accordingly. Furthermore, CRM facilitates a greater deal of flexibility, allowing businesses to respond rapidly to changes in the market. The same is true of marketing campaigns, which benefit from CRM by being able to target key groups of customers – those to whom information is likely to be the most relevant.
The ultimate result of using CRM applications is that efficiency is maximised, costs are reduced and the reputation of the company is enhanced.
This article was written by Workbooks, leading supplier of web-based CRM systems.