CRM – the perplexing question

The people ask - What is CRM?

What is CRM?

There are many times when we are out and about that we’re asked what CRM is, to which we normally reply that Customer Relationship Management is the process of recording who your customers are and what communication you may have had with them. A common response to this from a small business person is a perplexed expression together with a comment along the lines of that not being relevant to their business.

To some extent that business person is right, the full breadth of how CRM can help may not be relevant, but it quite often is and whats more is normally already being practiced by them. We all need some means of recording who our customers and prospective customers are, even if its just the name, address, email and phone number gleaned from a business card. This information will be kept in a database of some sort, whether that is in Outlook, or as a list in Word or Excel, or perhaps a shoe box containing business cards. That is the core of any CRM system and so from that point of view every business no matter how large or small is already engaged in the process.

What a more advanced CRM process can do is take that core information and build upon it, perhaps recording details of communcations and quotes/orders that may have been created. Over time as more data is added questions can start to be asked that can be answered by querying the database. Questions such as when was the last time we communicated with our customers? Who haven’t we communicated with in the last 6 months? Who have we quoted to sell Product A to in the past 6 months? Or perhaps 12 months ago? Can all potentially be answered by querying the data.

All of these questions and others like them may or may not be relevant to a given business depending upon their circumstances. But asking them can have a dramatic impact on how a business markets itself, because the results can be used to create lists which target just those contacts. This means instead of taking a scatter gun approach to marketing (i.e. targetting all contacts) your business can target a specific marketing campaign at specific contacts. This has the potential to save the business a lot of money in both printing and postal costs for any given direct mail campaign. But if the CRM includes the ability to send mass emails, perhaps with a built in system or by outputting a list which is then imported into a web based service further savings are possible.

Also if the right question was asked and the right message communicated this should result in a higher percentage of positive outcomes to that campaign. That means that not only can the business save money by targetting a particular message to a subset of customers but it may well result in a better response.

So a properly implemented CRM process should result in the CRM not only saving the business money, but also, with intelligent use of the data, making it as well. This is on top of other benefits such as providing customers with a better customer service experience.