Thanks to clever marketing campaigns by various vendors over the past few years Customer Relationship Management, or CRM to use its abbreviated form, has become intimately associated with a certain category of software. I would argue that that has happened to such an extent that many people think of it as software rather than what should be its true meaning.
There is a lot more to Customer Relationship Management than software, at the end of the day the software is just a tool which can and should play a significant role. But for CRM to work it must be adopted as a business process or policy with all staff members having the discipline to work within the process, with the chosen software being used to record information and make the process as efficient as is possible.
The process may take many facets and could include one or more of the following:
- Contact data
- Recording summaries of meetings, phone calls etc.
- Collation of documents related to the customer
- A calendar
- Management of tasks (associated with a customer, e.g. following up a phone call)
- The creation of quotes/orders
- Marketing campaigns
While its true that not all businesses need to implement all of these facets in a CRM business process they are, I think, the core to any successfuly implementation. Indeed when used together there is no doubt that over time an important resource can be created (especially when allied to some form of database) recording who the customers are, how to contact them, how often staff have met/talked to them and what they’ve been quoted/ordered. When gathered over a long enough period all of this information can add up to valuable intelligence which the business can use to better engage with its customers which will in turn lead to more sales – the lifeblood of any business.
Let’s not forget that as important as it is to win new customers it is just as (and I would even argue more) important to retain the ones that you already have, there’s more than a little truth to the saying ‘its cheaper to retain a customer than win a new one’. Implementing a CRM process can make that outcome more likely by helping to communicate more effectively with those customers.
Originally posted by Richard Isaac, Managing Director Convallis Software on Convallis Software Website November 2010