It doesn’t matter whether you are working from your kitchen table or managing a turnover measured in tens of millions, without customers your business is nothing. Customers are the whole reason your business can exist. They give you money for your product or services which allows you to employ your staff and keep going. Customers these days can be very fickle. With access to the internet to compare experiences, they need to be respected and engaged with. If you’re struggling to know how to improve your customer relationships then there are CRM Consultants who can advise.
What is CRM anyway?
Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is the art of looking after your customers. It applies to all your customer-facing activities, both those involving existing customers as well as sales and marketing to attract new clients.
Most CRM these days is done using specialist computer software, a customer data platform (CDP), which allows extremely precise data analysis to be performed so you can identify exactly where you are excelling, and where you are failing. The more data you pour into the system, the better placed it will be to help you.
CRM in practice
There are three main themes running through CRM activities:
- Operational CRM
- Analytical CRM
- Strategic CRM
Operational CRM is the very least you need to worry about. This deals with your day-to-day interactions with customers and should encompass sales, marketing, customer support and any other customer-facing departments. By tracking customers in a unified manner like this, it avoids duplication of effort and provides a more personalized and seamless experience for the customer. Remember your customer sees your business as a single entity and expects the same service regardless of which department they are speaking to.
Analytical CRM takes the data generated by the computer software to produce reports that can influence decisions, for example, those of the business manager. It can also be used to direct the efforts of the various customer-facing departments by identifying their successes and shortcomings. It can help identify fashions and demographic differences in buying behavior so that advertising can be more precisely targeted.
Strategic CRM is using your customer data to direct and focus your customer-facing efforts. It is the result of the effort put into the operational CRM and acting upon the analytical results. The aim is to form a company-wide strategy to create a customer-centric business.
Customers remain loyal to companies they are happy with. They like to feel they have a personal relationship with “their” supplier and successful CRM will aim to engender that feeling in all customer interactions – regardless of the communication channels used.
Customising mail shots to target individual customers interests is an example of the type of activity that good CRM deals with. For example, sending a customer that usually buys vegetarian food an email based on a special offer on meat is unlikely to be welcomed.
The email will probably be deleted, unread. On the other hand, sending an email inviting them to try a new vegetarian specialty will strengthen the feeling that the company cares about them as a person which will increase their loyalty to your brand – even if they don’t act on that specific mailshot.
And how do you tell the difference between your omnivorous and vegetarian customers? Simple, you ask your CRM software to analyze buying patterns.
If you need further proof that CRM is necessary to think about giants such as Amazon and Apple. It’s not the products that mark them out – it’s how they treat their customers.