CRM is critical to customer retention
In our global, extremely competitive business environment, holding onto your customers has never been more critical, says Ashley Ellington, MD, Softline Enterprise.
Many businesses spend a lot of time and money on finding new customers - an extremely important goal if you're trying to grow your business. But what are you doing to keep the customers you already have?
It is much cheaper to sell to an existing customer than to acquire a new one. Customer retention should, therefore, be a focus of the entire company, Ellington says. "If you keep your customers happy, they will not only buy more from you but it will also cost you less to sell and market to them."
A business wanting to effectively run a relationship marketing programme needs to find a CRM solution that offers a full spectrum of information relating to its customer base. A CRM solution which enables the company to track the lifecycle of a customer is core to relationship marketing.
At a high level, CRM is designed to improve customer satisfaction by enabling a business to better understand its customers, their habits and their needs. Data gathered from CRM tools is also analysed by business owners to identify levels of customer satisfaction, buying patterns, the success (or lack thereof) of a particular marketing or sales promotion with customers, and more.
A successful CRM solution integrates marketing, sales and customer service functions, making it easy for everyone inside the company to work together and share critical information. "It also empowers customers to do business with you in the way they choose to, while increasing your staff's awareness of the customer's needs," says Ellington.
Any company that has customers, prospects or competitors needs a good CRM solution because without it you're just guessing. "Before you implement a CRM solution, make sure everyone in your organisation has bought into the idea," Ellington says. There is no point to a CRM system that only 20% of your staff is using.
"CRM is a customer-centric business strategy which is aimed at maximising profits, revenue and customer satisfaction," says Ellington. Technologies that support this goal include the capture, storage and analysis of customer information, while functions that support this business purpose include sales, marketing and customer service. If the supporting technology is not integrated as part of a company's overall customer strategy, the business will fail to maximise its CRM function, Ellington warns.
"CRM was originally developed to assist companies with their customer relationships," says Ellington. "It has evolved into a software solution that provides a 360-degree customer view via consolidation of information from sales, marketing, customer service and support."
Today, CRM needs to be part of and integrated into the rest of the business. More broadly, it is aimed at helping users resolve customer questions, issues and requests, quickly, while also capitalising on new selling opportunities. Further to this, Ellington says, CRM helps extend customer service delivery through 24/7 self-service solutions, reducing the time and resources it takes to support and service customers.