What is customer relationship management?

CRM Customer Relationship Management Business Internet Techology Concept.
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Nov 13, 2023

Today’s organisations cannot afford to operate in unproductive and inefficient ways. Forward-thinking entrepreneurs and business leaders must invest time in finding innovative ways to streamline operations, maximise return on investment (ROI) of marketing efforts, increase customer loyalty, automate processes, and deliver real value to both existing and potential customers.

Many look to customer relationship management (CRM) to achieve their aims, with statistics suggesting it’s an approach that’s paying off.

  • CRM has boosted conversion rates by 300%.
  • CRM software systems and CRM data, when properly implemented, can produce ROI of 245%.
  • 50% of teams improved productivity by using a mobile CRM.
  • 74% of companies report that CRM technology gives better access to customer data.
  • 94% of customers look to make a purchase from the same source they have previously.
  • Productivity for sales teams and sales reps increases by more than 26% when social networking and mobile access is added to CRM applications.

Clearly, good CRM helps enhance business functions across the board. So what exactly is CRM, how is it being used to improve business processes, and what other benefits can it bring to an organisation?

What is customer relationship management?

CRM encompasses the business practices, guidelines and principles a company uses to interact with current and future customers. CRM solutions are used to optimise the activities of businesses of all sizes, from newly launched start-ups and small businesses to global e-commerce platforms.

At the core of CRM’s function is customer acquisition, experience and retention. It’s a tool that helps manage interactions at every stage of the customer journey: from discovery and education to point-of-sale and follow-up.

As a term, CRM can refer to:

  • CRM technology – software products used to track interactions between an organisation and its customers.
  • CRM strategy – an ethos about how customer relationships should be managed.
  • CRM process – a system used by an organisation to foster and manage its relationships.

While CRM elements can range from email marketing to social media to a company’s web presence, more and more the term is used to refer specifically to technology systems. One of the primary uses of CRM systems is to store and manage customer information (for example, contact information such as phone numbers) and analyse all types of customer data (for example, buying behaviour and interaction with marketing campaigns).

What are the benefits of CRM?

Deepening customer relationships is critical to an organisation’s future success. It also goes beyond customer interactions, encompassing partners, service users, suppliers and colleagues. CRMs help to embed future strategy, supporting businesses in their efforts to boost profits and longevity.

Salesforce list more of the key business advantages of harnessing CRM:

  • enhanced contact management
  • cross-team collaboration
  • heightened productivity
  • greater automation
  • empowered sales management
  • accurate sales forecasting
  • reliable reporting
  • improved sales metrics
  • greater insight into sales funnels
  • better customer support and experience
  • increased customer satisfaction and retention
  • boosting marketing ROI
  • enriched products and services.

What are the different types of CRM software?

Not all CRM tools are designed for the same purposes, and which CRM is right for an organisation depends on the area of business that requires support and automation. Is it lead generation? Data related to the sales pipeline? Ways to enhance market segmentation? Greater insight into customer needs?

There are three main types of CRM: operational CRMs (streamline and simplify processes), analytical CRMs (collect and analyse customer data) and collaborative CRMs (combine marketing, sales and service data). Additionally, these three CRMs come in a variety of types. For example, a business may choose a cloud CRM – such as SaaS models – an on-premises CRM, or a hybrid CRM.

Some of the most useful, and important, CRM features include:

  • workflow and marketing automation
  • customisation
  • third-party integration
  • customer service
  • employee tracking
  • social media
  • lead management
  • real-time data
  • analytics
  • reporting and forecasting
  • email

The most-popular global CRM platforms include the likes of Salesforce, HubSpot, WooCommerce, WordPress, Shopify, Magento and Ghost. For providers considering adopting CRM for the first time, or changing their current CRM, it’s worth taking into account factors such as ease of use, data portability, design options, extensions and add-ons, cost, and available help and support options.

How are customer relationship management and customer experience management different?

What does your customer base really want?

While CRM and customer experience management (CEM) are both instrumental in attracting and retaining customers – and gaining insights into them by means of customer data – they have different objectives.

CRM focuses on driving sales, tracking customers and resolving issues, while CEM is a holistic approach to enhancing the overall customer experience. CEM seeks to gain oversight over all company-wide customer interactions and make adjustments and improvements to strengthen the relationship. It makes use of reviews, surveys, direct feedback and other communication tools to understand the customer’s perspective; from that informed standpoint, optimising their journey in a bid to boost brand loyalty can be strategised. It seeks to understand their behaviour and motivations, manage all the touchpoints a customer has with a business, interact with every customer, and listen, analyse and act on received feedback.

What are some key areas of CRM development?

CRM solutions are revolutionising the ways in which marketing teams and wider businesses are conducting business. It’s a field that shows no signs of slowing, from innovative software options to cloud computing.

SelectHub highlight some of the significant trends in the CRM world that business leaders can expect:

·   vVvoice and conversational user interface (UI)

·   sSelf-service CRM

·   Aartificial intelligence (AI)

·   Internet of Things (IoT)

·   Mmobile and social CRM

·   XaaS – Everything as a Service.

Providing best-in-class customer support and experience is a hot topic for many businesses, particularly in our technologically enabled, highly competitive global marketplaces. Prioritising the right CRM solutions and strategies – and understanding the role they play in boosting brand growth – cannot be underestimated.

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