Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How To Know When Your CRM Is Broken

During the 1990s when customer relationship management or CRM was just beginning to be implemented in business processes, one of the biggest challenges was simply getting the corporate structure to use the tools and channels of communication effectively. Today, the evolution of the Internet, and its various channels, has increased the contents of the marketer’s tool box with more innovative ways to manage the business’s relationships with its customers.

The challenge with all the latest bells and whistles is to know when something is amiss. When does the company understand that their CRM efforts are not working, or being as effective as they might be?
Too many marketing executives wait to see the reports. Even on a weekly basis, the time it takes for the feedback to enter into the conversation may be longer than is healthy for regular, successful business operations.

Fortunately for today’s business marketing professional, in addition to a wide array of low cost, effective CRM applications, the employment of social media with the specific application towards customer relationships management can provide near real time feedback on the current state of CRM affairs.
In the past, sales was a direct indicator of how a company was doing. Though still true today, taking the time to wait for sales data, making a determination of response, and then implementing that response can take too much time.

With the use of social CRM tools and communities, the business can be more active in the direct interaction with its customers. When something goes wrong, the conversations usually start with the communities of users. Active company representatives continually monitoring the various social channels can be clued into the negative conversations within minutes, not the days, weeks or months of the past.

When it comes to monitoring the working efficacy of the CRM application in place, one of the best mechanisms is to simply ask ones customers how things are going. How has their experience with the company affected them?

Again, social CRM provides a number of tools that are both easy to use and relatively inexpensive as well. The following list briefly describes some of these tools, and how the savvy marketing department can use them to promote the company brand, while still providing top quality service to the customers:

Tools To Use In Effective CRM

  • Cloud CRM Applications: Cloud computing, or the hosting of applications on servers (or parts of servers) not wholly owned by ones company, can provide the business with effective, scalable solutions when it comes to providing quality relationships management. An effective indicator of shoddy CRM can be the over-burdening of in-house servers loaded up with various software applications required to provide acceptable customer experiences.By enlisting the help of instantly scalable software and hardware solutions, the business can do away with the excuse of technology as an inhibitor to the customer being treated fast and in good fashion.
  • Monitoring the Conversation: Knowing what is being said about ones customer is as important as being able to take quick action to remedy less than positive scenarios. In the past, this sort of continual around the clock monitoring simply was not possible.Today, however, with active use of social communities, the company is able to set up automated services which check any mention of a brand. Now, with dedicated individuals whose primary focus is spotting and reacting to the mention of its brand names, the conversation can always be heard.When others are speaking ill, social CRM provides a fast, easy, and low cost way to deal with the challenges. When bad things are spread about the brand, it becomes paramount for the company to address the problem head on, in good timely order, and with intelligent, compassionate solutions. Social CRM will provide the communication channels for this to happen.
  • Continual Content Creation: If the company is receiving a number of similar questions or complaints about some aspect of its operations, a clue might be picked up on that CRM is broken. Maintaining a database of the various questions asked easily leads to an FAQ page, or knowledge base of solutions where current and potential customers can find the answers they seek fast.
  • Setting Automated Notifications: As stated, people will talk about ones company and brands. In addition to the real-time conversations taking place within the confines of social communities like Facebook or Twitter, thousands of bloggers and other website owners publish new articles and blog posts every day. Many of them will talk about the brand that is important to the company in question.Search engines like Google have free, easy to use mechanisms in place to monitor a specific keyword or phrase and then email those references to someone in the company who needs to know what’s being said. Whether having an email delivered immediately, or on a daily or weekly basis, it is important to hear what is being said outside of the traditional social community venues.The quicker one is receiving this information, the faster a determination can be made on how to deal with it. For a large percentage of the conversations, simply logging into the speaker’s website and leaving an official, informed comment can make the difference between representing the brand well, and inviting further challenging criticism.
In a nutshell, if the paying customers are complaining about products, or the way they are being treated, one should know there are challenges with the CRM process. When the conversation is a bit harder to locate, extra efforts need to be employed in order to better deal with amicable solutions.

Taking the time to monitor the chatter, separate the noise from the legitimate concerns will be a win for the company in a number of ways. Existing customers like to know they are valued. They’ll tell everyone within their spheres of influence when the business goes out of their way to make the customer feel valued and worthy.

But customers will also tell their friends and associates when they’ve been done wrong. With today’s communications capabilities this bad news can spread much faster than wildfire.