Wednesday, August 17, 2011

CRM Strategies Examined

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is being embraced by an ever-widening number of businesses as more and more people come to understand the great benefits a successful CRM strategy can offer for today’s companies.

Of course, there is really no such thing as one strategy. The best CRM plans bring together a number of strategies that complement one another and work together to give a multi-layered approach to improving a business’s performance by improving the customer’s experience.

While every strategy will be different for each business, there are a number of key areas that can be adapted to create an overall strategy:
  1. One of the key CRM strategies is to ensure that it is fully embedded in the culture of the organization. The way this is best achieved is to have full buy-in from the whole of the sales team. In practise this means everyone from the head of sales right down to the frontline staff. Successful CRM businesses have come to understand that if this is not the case there is a weak link that can derail the whole operation. Therefore, they make it a priority that CRM is fully embraced.
  2. As simple as it sounds, the absolute bedrock of any CRM success is the quality of the data that is held in the system. Put simply, the better the data the better the results. It should be a business’s priority to ensure a strategy of all data being of the utmost quality. Every customer’s entry should be as complete and up-to-date as possible with everything from the correct spelling (few things irritate customers as much as having names such as Linda spelt Lynda) to purchase history being in place. It may only seem a small point, but successful businesses know that it can often be the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity.
  3. One of the key revolutions that CRM has provided is the way in which it has liberated staff. The days when the best staff were isolated from their customers are slowly receding into history. Forward-looking companies understand the value these staff can have for their business. Of course, no one is suggesting that the head of product development should be sitting on a counter somewhere on the off chance a customer has a query. However, it could well be a great idea to have that member of staff blog on the business’s official website so that he or she can discuss new products/future developments and importantly give the customers a chance to ask questions and offer suggestions. This strategy of a two-way dialogue is one of the key benefits of social CRM and can have real advantages for the company. An extreme, yet innovative example of this was when European wireless provider Giff Gaff replaced their call centre with an online community. The concept of customers helping customer may be radical, but it has resulted in award winning service and an increase in profitability.
  4. Another key CRM strategy is to not think of CRM as a ring-fenced section of a business’s overall strategy, but rather one element (albeit a very important one) that is integrated with others. A CRM system can be linked well with email, order entries and other programmes so that the user can access a wide range of information quickly and efficiently without having an ever-increasing number of windows open.
  5. The final key strategy is one that is often overlooked by even the most experienced business. The desire to make the move to CRM can often mean that things are unnecessarily rushed. This can lead to poor implementation, a training issue and a steep learning curve for all involved. It is a much better CRM strategy to go for a phased implantation as this will help guaranteed a successful beginning to a business’s CRM strategy.