Customer relationship management (or CRM) refers to any software-supported, formal program that keeps track of profiles, behavior and interactions with customers, leads or prospects.
Let’s say your business has a customer named Lindsey Smith. A robust CRM will allow your sales, marketing, or customer service team members to pull up Lindsey’s profile from just about any location and gather valuable information about her at a glance, such as her age, address and order history, as well as marketing communication or opt-in preferences-even social media or “click” activity in some cases. The team member can then use the CRM to document the current interaction with Lindsey-a sale, a complaint, an update or an inquiry-so that any team member accessing Lindsey’s file at a future date is aware of her most recent interaction with the company.
If your business is interested in harnessing the many benefits of customer relationship management, here’s a few things you’ll want to do or investigate before signing on with a CRM provider.
Get a handle on current customer data situation. Where are you currently keeping track of order histories, customer contacts, and demographic information? If the information is in multiple locations, including some non-electronic ones, that knowledge might impact the type of CRM program you select, as well as the ramp-up process involved with getting a new CRM launched.
Give some thought as to which staff members will be responsible for the management of the CRM, once you have it in place. Do you need to adjust someone’s duties to reflect this new responsibility, or do you need to bring on a new team member to help you manage on part-time or full-time basis?
Think about benchmarks for success. Some businesses find it helpful to motivate sales team members to set goals for customer relationship management, in terms of numbers of interactions (or “touches”) entered into the program. Still others have found these types of performance benchmarks to be ineffective in terms of producing any true lead development or customer growth results. The CRM provider you choose to work with can probably provide you some advice or best practices with respect to benchmarks.
Take a look at your current technology inventory. Are your sales team members tending to use a lot of mobile devices? Do they work on home laptops with great frequency? When was the last time your computer OS was updated? These are all questions that a potential CRM provider will need to know in order to provide you with recommendations or bids.
Begin looking for a CRM provider. You’ll want to evaluate potential candidates’ experience and history with working with clients in your industry and with clients that have similar technology capacities as yours.
Other factors to consider include the candidate’s level of service provided after the sale. You’ll especially want to do some research and find out if the CRM platform being offered has a history of good performance and good reviews with the front-line sales staff who tend to use those platforms the most.