Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the combination of business activities, strategies and technologies that enables not just the recording of past, current and future clients interactions but also the planning of relevant and meaningful contact experiences.
CRM is about building relationships using relevant interaction information. The result is an increased likelihood of repeat business and is thus directly related to turnover and profit (existing and/or previous customers yield more profit than new customers, for example). This is why all businesses - whether you're a musician, a wedding-dress maker, a door manufacturer or a life coach, you should have some kind of CRM awareness and activity and simply put, should have a platform that offers a simple way to record customer touch points (emails, phone calls, meetings, etc). Modern CRM systems also offer the planning of customer journeys such as pipelines (or sales funnels) and can automate tasks around those. This is key to making customer experiences consistent, on brand and ensure nothing is missed out in any of the engagement processes.
Similarly, the platform should be scalable and offer the ability to track whether deals (sales funnels) have been won or lost – and again, automate what happens in either event to make for a relevant and logical engagement.
According to Fortune Business Insights 2020, CRM software totalled $58.3 billion in 2021 and predicts that that figure will continue to rise to around $128 billion in 2028. So this is a huge market and for good reason – all businesses have customers and really should do all they can to keep them. We all know how frustrating it is to call customer support (or their sales department calls you) and they don’t even know how long you’ve been their customer – it’s important to the customer so should be important to the business!
In principal, customer relationship management is straightforward. However, it can become complex very quickly and needs careful thought – it isn’t just a range of strategies and tasks. It's also a philosophy, that needs to work at the DNA level of your business; how staff behave with customers and leads; how you interact with prospects and leads. Due to CRM's applicability, it doesn't only benefit larger businesses - any business that has customers and leads will benefit from maintaining a complete record of interactions – this is something I like to call ‘the single version of the truth’ – one place to find customer and lead information, that is complete and up to date with the latest data.
This is why OBVI-US is a ‘process-first’ CRM agency – the lead/prospect and then client goes through a process from you never having heard of them to someone you get to know very well whilst you deliver whatever goods or services you sold. It all starts with you planning a process from the customer’s point of view and then consistently delivering it (and improving it through feedback and experience).
At OBVI-US, I always advise companies to make CRM a part of their strategy before the number of clients makes a CRM platform absolutely necessary. Small businesses and even freelancers can benefit from CRM processes as well. I can’t tell you how many small and single-person businesses tell me that they keep losing business cards or lead notes! And CRM of course is so like dating – it’s good to remember people’s names, what food they like, what travel plans they have; or at least the things that are relevant to your relationship. There’s little point in keeping a record of eye colour if you’re life coach – but you will want to keep note of aspirations and inspirations – as well as meeting notes!
CRM is also the most effective bridge between converting a lead into a customer - it defines the experience, the processes and the effect. When you win a new bit of business, what better time than that to automatically send out a note of thanks and appreciation of the business! You can also explain what happens next so that your new customer feels confident that the required steps are being taken to look after them. That's CRM - that's good CRM.
And remember – good CRM keeps customers; this increases their Lifetime Value (LTCV) and reduces churn. Not only that - it will increase conversion rate too. This all increases turnover and profit – and which business doesn’t want that?!
Some of the major ways in which CRM accomplishes this goal are listed below.
ANALYSIS. CRM helps businesses learn about their customers and leads, including who they are and why they purchased your products, as well as trends in customers' purchasing histories – for example if they buy every three months or three years. You can also see your conversion rates and see the current status of your sales funnels. You will be able to see the average LTCV (Lifetime Customer Value) – and who is your best customer (and you can choose in what way you define 'best').
ORGANISATION. CRM allows businesses to become more efficient by organizing and automating key parts of the business processes. From sales processes to marketing campaigns and business analytics as well as customer data, CRM automates and streamlines these processes for businesses. The processes allow for consistent and measurable performance.
DELIVERY. A crucial part of customer experience is actually a subset of the CRM startegy. And that is the delivery of the product or service. It is a disappointingly common mistake to focus on the lead conversion process, making that super-slick and 'frictionless', only to find that the business has over-promised and is now exposed as a result. No, CRM includes the conversion point (onboarding, contracts etc) AND the project management of the effective delivery of whatever was sold. And again good CRM should go an extra mile at the end of the delivery and ask for feedback and/or testimonials.
OPTIMISATION. Finally, CRM platrforms mean that your processes are supproted in their most optimal form. By simplifying and streamlining many of the more complex customer interaction processes, CRM increases customer satisfaction. Good CRM platforms will allow you to have different pipelines for different products – for example, a sales process for wedding photography is entirely different to the sales process for a business headshot; but if you want those different services to be delivered consistently to your customers' satisfaction, you need a unified eco-system of CRM processes.
TYPES OF CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT
There are many different types of CRM. However, the best CRM platforms incorporates all of the major categories below.
OPERATIONAL. Operational CRM usually has to do with one of the three types of operations: marketing, sales and service. Operational CRM is an important tool for lead generation because it frequently deals with past customer data such as previous marketing campaigns, purchases and service satisfaction. CRM software also aims to automate these processes to create a better experience for both the businesses and their customers. Because of its concentration on efficiency, operational CRM is a great ft for companies with a shorter sales cycle and high repeat sales like e-commerce or business to consumer retail verticals.
RELEVANT. The main function of relevant CRM is to hold the data that is most relevant to you to help them. The goal of relevant CRM is to improve customer engagement. Good CRM platforms will allow you to have custom fields so that you don't fit into its way of working, it adapts totally to the way you want to work. For example - if you are a wedding dress designer you will fields to record the dress measurements. Custom fields will allow you to do that. If you're a life coach you will want to record meetings, and particular data about those meetings - custom fields are your friends. This means three months down the line, you can instanting display on screen (laptop or mobile) the last meeting notes - or remind yourself of those dress measurements.
Customers don't care how well you look after your other customers - they care about how you look after them, so your CRM must make you relevant.
EFFICIENT. Efficient CRM is adll about doing as much as possible within the one platform - making it easy for you actually makes it easier for the customer. For example, a CRM platform that can provide an estimate or an invoice (and offer there-and-then payment) is way better than having to move between systems - it's confusing for you and your customers! A client portal helps communication and document distribution and even project tasks are more visible as a result - so things get done quicker and expectations are clear. And it's efficient.
SOME CRM CHALLENGESI've done lots of research on this so you don't have to! Here are some less apparent CRM challenges that are all mitigated by a process-first CRM approach and a good CRM platform;
85% of sellers admit having made potentially embarrassing mistakes due to faulty CRM data. These mistakes include calling a prospect by the wrong name, or having the opposite idea of what a prospect wanted. (Oracle 2020)
86% of sellers are frustrated by certain elements of their jobs, many of which are mandatory. Their top five complaints are:
- Doing repetitive administrative tasks that could be automated
- Updating multiple systems that ought to be connected
- Following up with a prospect they know isn’t interested.
- Re-entering email data into a CRM.
- Entering notes into a CRM
72% of sellers need to have at least three screens or windows open at once to coordinate a sales process. (Oracle 2020)
50% of sellers have taken sales calls on vacation. Sellers are also taking calls: (Oracle 2020)
- At the dinner table (40%)
- At a party or social event (33%)
- In the bathroom (30%)
- At the gym (24%)
- On a date (16%)
39% of sellers are actively considering a career change away from inside sales. (Oracle 2020)
CRM is an excellent tool that can increase not only their customer satisfaction but also their efficiency and profits - and can be configured to fit any business that has customers. In fact, it is fair to say that it is much better to start using a CRM for your business before it becomes an enforced necessity as that means there must be a lot of unhappy customers!
It is important for companies to consider their processes when considering which CRM solution to use: What customer information is rmost relevant and meaningful? How many times do you usually contact a client before they purchase? Can the sales promise be delivered? Can the business afford a high churn rate of customers?
As a business owner, not implementing a CRM strategy could be a huge oversight.
RECOMMENDATIONOBVI-US recommends Flowlu as a comprehensive CRM platform that offers all the customisation and automation you will need to supprot engaging and effective sales funnels and project delivery. It provides that 'single version of the truth' I mentioned earlier. In fact it does everything I have mentioned above.
If you're ready to get CRM results for your business the first step is to get Flowlu - the second step is to engage with OBVI-US to get it setup the right way for your business, with best-practice CRM built - more information here.
Neil Gowans is the driving force behind OBVI-US.