What is CRM
CRM is the acronym for Customer Relationship Management, but this may still need to be clarified for everyone.
What is a CRM, then? The name is partly revealing: CRM software is a computer system for managing customer relationships.
A system, the CRM, that someone confused with management systems for a reason: it serves to record data and dynamic interactions of customers and prospects in a centralized way, in part – it is true – like management systems. Still, the two software does very different jobs.
A CRM is a system that keeps track of all commercial activities and facilitates the exchange of information between sales, marketing, customer service departments, advanced analysis tools, management systems themselves, and the centralized management of companies.
CRM aligns people as each function and operator can work simultaneously on the same customer, sharing information and tasks.
A CRM system records the dynamic activities of users who interact with the company’s contact tools (website, forum, chat, etc.), traces contact information, and shares it.
Thus, if a potential customer fills out a form to download an ebook from our site, his data is recorded in compliance with privacy and GDPR. Immediately afterward, the person will receive an automatic email that will deliver the digital content, alerting him at the same time of the company’s business opportunity or an event to be held within a few days.
The quality of the contact can be evaluated by marketing, which will also have the option of automatically reporting the lead to the sales department.
Simple, automatic, functional.
Is a CRM system important and necessary? You know that, as always, we are very transparent: it is absolutely important; necessary… It depends on the activity of your company, but now a company that wants to grow and has a structured approach to the market can only do with it.
Let’s focus on this aspect.
Why CRM is important
Companies that use a CRM do so for different reasons, but almost always, the goal is to improve business results, customer experience, and, more recently, internal alignment between business functions.
CRM has become an extremely important piece of software, useful both for B2B companies that have direct relationships with the market and interact with an audience of users/customers (consulting, trading, service, SaaS, etc.), and for B2C companies that very often interface and connect it to their e-commerce (and integrations with the main e-commerce software such as Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, etc. are now “native“).
Is it the right time to make this choice too?
I can tell you that there is no company size parameter for you to take the “big step”: we work with many startups who decide from the first moment to register all their activity on a Customer Relationship Management System in order not to lose information and immediately build a collaborative culture within their team.
Some medium and large companies still use spreadsheets and emails to share information.
A somewhat risky system – this is my opinion – and fragile even on a personal level. But that’s often the case. In these situations, however, someone is always disgruntled, and a CRM almost always proves to be an effective choice if accompanied by training and coaching, not only in IT.
A CRM then represents a dashboard for controlling everything for the entire commercial process of the company. Entrepreneurs today can no longer afford to entrust their fate to the sensations of their sellers, marketing brochures, and some sporadic and unrelated commercial initiatives from the context. The right time may be now.
Now that it’s clear what a CRM is and why it’s needed, now that you have assessed that this is probably a current choice and one to be made immediately, let’s also try to consider the advantages that a CRM can have in every functional area of your company or project.
What are the benefits of CRM?
A CRM guarantees many advantages to B2B and B2C companies.
First, it allows you to store all information about customers and prospects in a single centralized system. No more exchanging files or emails, no more decomposed and messy interactions, and no more communicating with customers in an asynchronous or, worse, discordant way.
CRM is a certain and reliable source of data if it is obviously set up and followed carefully.
The history of each digital interaction remains traced in the customer relationship management system, and whoever has the right to view or edit the data can see it.
The advantages of a CRM for sales
CRM was born with a vocation aimed at sales, and the advantages of a customer relationship system are evident in more than one aspect:
- Having a centralized database of contacts, prospects, and customers mean always having the contact history in front of you, keeping track of communication exchanges with customers, and having evidence of the pipeline and open negotiations for each company.
- Manage all customer communications in one place: chats, emails, phone calls, Linkedin, and social selling. If you work in sales, I need say no more to make your eyes shine;
- Automation of some commercial actions. Sequences and workflows can automate a large part of customer interaction and communication projects, solving various wastes of time.
- Have a tool that helps remember sales actions. Automatic tasks, reminders, and notifications are very valid allies, not only for those with little memory.
- Have sales reports updated in real-time and a view of the deviations referring to commercial actions and monthly quotas?
- Forecasting. Having a clear forecast not based on salespeople’s feelings is one of the requests I often hear when we start a CRM project.
The advantages of a CRM for marketing
The sales office is one of many to benefit from using a CRM. Even the marketing team can have extremely important advantages and achieve new results thanks to a customer relationship management system:
- Increase company awareness in an organic and structured way. The corporate functions often work disorganizedly, and the same intra-department initiatives are unrelated and need a single purpose. CRM systems dramatically solve this problem by allowing you to manage brand visibility in an orderly and consistent way.
- Always have everything under control. The CRM systems available today have advanced and customizable notification and alerting functions. No customer or prospect will escape you anymore, I promise.
- Handle communication in a meaningful way. Here too, CRM platforms have reached unprecedented levels of communication management: blogs, emails, social networks, and direct marketing are marketing automation elements that work in support of sales actions managed through CRM.
- See the data. Yes, exactly: see the road you are traveling on with always updated reports
- Improve customer engagement over time. Yes, because not all customers are the same, and not everyone experiences contact with your company the same way. Their awareness must be nurtured and cared for in each phase of the lifecycle stage in which they find themselves. A marketing automation platform and CRM are the perfect solutions.
The advantages of e-commerce
As I said in the first paragraphs of this article, CRM is not a solution that should be of interest only to those who do B2B. Even B2C and e-commerce can quickly grow thanks to a Customer Relationship Management System. Here’s what you can turn into e-commerce:
- Improving the Customer Experience. Every digital user expresses a judgment, more or less severe, on their browsing experience and interaction with websites. Intercepting users is difficult, and losing them is very easy. Saying the wrong things to the wrong people at the wrong time is a great way to lose credibility. A CRM manages to avoid terrible moments of embarrassment.
- Improve the shopping experience. It is no surprise to know that e-commerce automation platforms are continuously improved with this underlying idea
- Improve the activities of the sales team. Even the commercial support team of e-commerce manages to work clearly when using a CRM
- Make product management more effective. Sales forecasting is a predictive tool for managing product availability organization activities.
- Manage after-sales support.
- Have advanced analytics for every aspect of CRM and overall performance.
The benefits of CRM in customer service
We can only talk about marketing and sales by considering customer service based on what we want to call it. But it’s right to do it.
Customer service also gets a huge benefit from the business use of a CRM platform:
- More complete and clearer knowledge of the customers with whom you interact. Sometimes customer service talks to different people than marketing and sales interlocutors. This can limit the quality of the interaction and the overview. CRM is decisive, based on lived experience 😅
- Correct segmentation of contacts. User allocation is one of the most important aspects of managing customer service. We have written a few articles on the subject.
- Improve customer retention. Write, trace, check. A CRM radically transforms the way customer service works, increasing overall efficiency.
- Proactivity. Anticipating the resolution of customer problems is the true transformation of support services from a problem-solving center to a profit center.
- Data protection management. Modern CRMs, by now all, are perfectly aligned and capable of managing every aspect related to GDPR and data privacy.
Benefits of human resource management
Suppose I were to ask all the people who use a CRM which are, in their opinion, the corporate offices interested in the Customer Relationship Management platform. In that case, few would mention human resources.
Yet many of them would change their mind if they rethought the possible role of CRM in the processes of recruiting and managing collaborators in the company.
HR teams can leverage CRM software to streamline recruiting and find new talent like sales teams use it to manage leads.
CRM tools allow users to filter the best candidates, track responses, and analyze the quality of recruiting sources.
You can also score candidates based on experience, skills, and interview performance during the hiring process. Many of these tasks can be automated and enhanced with AI as needed.
CRM can also be used to collect and organize employee feedback from various sources, including social media, anonymous surveys, third-party websites, and eyewitness accounts.
d CRM system can be consulted from the Outlook or Gmail screen with most of the services active right in the message editing and sending screen: documents, snippets, templates, meetings, tasks, sequences, in addition to the possibility (by now, I would say obvious ) to track the email within the CRM system and be able to find it again in the timeline at any time.
Ability to organize and track meetings (including attendees and notes)
Salespeople and business development people have a lot of meetings. So, your CRM needs to handle that too. Integration with Google or Office 365 mail and calendar is also the solution. With the CRM, you can share your availability with potential customers and instantly update everyone’s calendars without overlapping with other meetings or constantly sending emails to check everyone’s availability.
Ability to create custom properties (fields).
Each company has its own needs, processes, and specificities. I’ve never faced a CRM project identical to a previous one.
The CRM you want to choose must guarantee you this flexibility: you must be able to create custom properties that represent you and that are expressed according to a type of alphanumeric value in the form that best suits you (number only, text only, single check, dropdown, etc.)
I know you are smiling. The limits of human adoption are the most difficult to overcome; people must be able to be helped to do new things without an increase in complexity. If you can meet the requirements presented here, it will be very easy to introduce CRM within the company and reap the success you have always hoped for.