How many people start a business and then get asked by someone, “what CRM system do you use?” For some people, you may as well have asked them to explain the four laws of thermodynamics!

Seriously though, a CRM system or Client Relationship Management system is a must for any business that wants to take a proactive approach toward its customers. Read on to find out why a CRM could make a real difference to your business.

What does a CRM system do?

Simply put, a CRM system manages all the contact you have with your customers, from emails and social media, to follow up calls or even birthday cards. It will be the control centre for your sales and marketing activity. It does this by being the place you store all your customers’ details, preferences, purchases, and more.

By using a CRM system, you can increase customer loyalty, convert more of your prospects, and streamline many of your processes to improve service.

Why use a CRM?

If you want to stay in touch with your customers, you need somewhere to store all their details securely. This is essential given the implications of GDPR. If you currently use a spreadsheet to store that type of data, then it’s time to look at the alternatives.

Unless you have a system that stores those details, how do you easily send an email to all your customers, or identify who bought a particular product, or your customers aged between 35 and 49? There are, of course, endless questions you can ask about your customer base.

By segmenting the database in this way, you can provide more useful information and services to your customers. Without CRM data this becomes a huge challenge.

Every time you find out a new piece of information that’s useful about your customer, you can add it to the customer base. If a customer moves premises, you can easily amend their address details. A CRM is a treasure trove of information that could transform your business relationships and sales growth.

Do you sometimes talk to a customer who has already spoken to a colleague? Does your customer have to explain themselves to you all over again? Your CRM allows you to make notes about all your interactions so you can quickly see what’s happened in the recent past, no matter who spoke to the customer.

CRM systems are generally cloud-based, so you don’t have to worry if anything goes wrong with your infrastructure. It also means you can access your data securely anytime, anywhere.

A CRM system allows you the functionality you need to maximise your client relationships within a secure environment that gives you control wherever you are.

Customer Relationship Management

The benefits of using a CRM system

So we know that a CRM is a place you can store customers’ names, addresses, email addresses, websites, preferences, types of business – the list is as long as you want to make it (and assumes you are complying with GDPR).

Now let’s look at what benefits your business could gain by using a CRM system:

Increase in Sales

A CRM system will give you insights into your customer base that you may never have seen before. Here’s just some of the ways using a CRM system can impact sales growth:

  • Identify your most valuable customers and place your focus on them
  • Analyse your customer and order details to identify opportunities for upselling
  • Connect with your prospects at the right time in their decision-making process
  • Integrate campaigns so you can track what marketing is working and what isn’t
  • Understand which sales channels your sales leads come from
  • Create alerts so that your team can respond quickly when your customers enquire
  • Increase lead generation through better personalization of sales campaigns and offers
  • Create communications strategies for customer renewals
  • Sales conversion rates – how many prospects do you need to hit your targets?

Get More Business Insights

Not only can you make a measurable difference to your sales and marketing strategy, but a CRM system will also help you understand what is working and what needs to be addressed in your business. If you include the logging and tracking of service issues, you could transform your customer satisfaction levels and improve the services you offer your customers. Here are just some of the insights you could gain:

  • Number of service issues over any time period you choose
  • Plot volume trends to identify priorities
  • What takes up the most time in your business?
  • Number of issues resolved in one call
  • Issues by product or service
  • Measure the service KPIs in your business

Improve Customer Loyalty

Trying to find a new customer is up to five times more expensive than keeping an existing one. That means it’s essential to nurture those customers like the precious jewels they are. A CRM system allows you to design a customer communication strategy that can deepen customer loyalty and deepen your relationships with them. Use your customer data and you can do all or any of these:

  • Create newsletters that add value for your customers
  • Send your customers special offers for related services and products
  • Thank them for being a customer on 3 months, 1 year, or any other anniversary you choose
  • Follow up service issues with surveys, discount vouchers, or small gifts
  • Create a referral programme for your customer base.
  • Make your customers the first to know about product updates, new products that may complement previous purchases, additional services you’re offering and so much more
  • Increase the speed of issue resolution due to prior knowledge
  • Consolidate all your interactions with your customers whether by phone, email, social media, or chat functions. A holistic view of every customer can transform how you personalize their experience

Do Business Anywhere

The beauty of a CRM system is that it’s hosted in the cloud. That means you don’t have to be in your office on your desktop PC to access the database. And nor do your team. So keep working securely anywhere, any time, and provide a seamless service for your customers.

Safeguard Your Data

Putting your customer data into a new system can seem scary. The beauty of the best systems on the market is that those suppliers have invested millions in the highest levels of encryption and security. Your data will be far more secure on those platforms than they will on your own PCs.

You can create rules that prevent the export of data to Excel, can protect sensitive data with field-level security controls and if any of your mobile devices are lost, you can immediately wipe data from them remotely. So, rest easy and focus on how you’re going to grow your business.

Trustworthy Reporting

By now, you may have realized that a key benefit that comes from using a CRM system is the data it gives you about your customer base and your business. Reporting can give you a range of insights on everything we’ve highlighted above. You can create dashboards so you can see at a glance, the measures you most want to focus on. As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. With CRM your ability to manage will improve exponentially.

How to Choose a CRM System

Now you know what a CRM system could do for your business, let’s look at what you should think about before you choose one.

Do you have a budget?

There are plenty of good options that provide a free version of CRM software. If you’re starting out and don’t want to spend on every feature, it’s almost certain these will work perfectly for you.

If you have a team of people and you need more of the complex features we have talked about here, you need to calculate your budget. Think about what features you must have and those you would like but can wait for.

Is the system easy to use?

Nobody wants a system that requires a degree in computer science to use it. Make sure you get demos and take advantage of free trials before you jump into a full commitment. Learn what works well for you and what you need to understand. Is training available either in person or through user-friendly videos? If you’re not comfortable using the system you’re reviewing, move on – there are plenty more available.

Does the system meet your sales and operational needs?

Firstly, it’s important that your sales and service processes are robust enough to deal with implementing a CRM system. Remember, a CRM system is only as good as the data you put in it and the processes you design.

However, if you’ve done some work on those, test the CRM system to ensure it matches what you want to do with and for your customers.

Test the reporting suite

We’ve made clear that reporting is a significant benefit of using CRM. But every platform uses different formats, look and feel different and produce data in different ways. Make sure you can get the data that’s most important to you in a format that’s easy for you to interrogate.

How flexible is the system and the packages available?

You may not need an Enterprise level CRM right now. But as you grow, you may want to add more features. Find out from the start how subscription plans work, what you can add or whether you can remove both users and features, and make sure you have a system that can adapt as your business changes.

Can you integrate it with other systems?

Many businesses see the greatest value in CRM by integrating with phone systems, office suites, e-commerce platforms, and so on. Make sure that the CRMs you are evaluating can easily integrate with any systems you need.

Can you control GDPR settings?

You know how important it is to comply with privacy regulations these days. Make sure you are comfortable that the systems you are comparing provide the levels of control that will keep your customer data fully secure, allow you to archive or remove data in line with protocols and comply with issues like ‘Right to be Forgotten’. 

Conclusion

A CRM system can take your business to new levels. It may not be sensible to start by buying a huge, feature-rich platform. Remember that everything covered in this article is available but isn’t necessarily cheap or needed in your business at this time. Start off small. Learn how to use the system effectively, set targets, and use the system to help you track progress and identify areas that need to be improved.

The important thing is to recognize that the effectiveness of your marketing, the strength of your sales process, the ability to deliver great service, and to build deep customer relationships will set you apart from your competition. You can do all those things without a CRM to some degree. But if you want to power your business to grow more quickly, it’s time to review the market.

If you want more advice on choosing a CRM or need help to get the most from the system you’re currently using, please do give me a call on 07970719428

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