CRM may be increasingly vital to loyalty and profits
Companies interested in maximising profitability and providing higher levels of customer service are now seeing the importance of well-defined customer relationship management (CRM) strategies, according to business consultancy firm, Tribridge.
The investment that a company makes in acquiring a good customer must result in a long-term relationship if it is to be a profitable investment and, according to Shannon Yost, Tribridge's director of customer solutions, an appropriate and well defined CRM programme can help accomplish that goal.
"Believing they are in survival mode, many companies are focusing their energies on gaining and maintaining a satisfied, loyal customer base," said Yost. "But by developing a dynamic CRM strategy, they will be better positioned to understand, meet, and even anticipate customer needs."
Not just for corporates Once considered a solution primarily for Fortune 1000 companies, CRM may be even more important for the middle market. Tribridge estimates that around 10% of middle market companies have already developed a CRM strategy but that concerns about the cost of doing so have deterred many others.
As a result, most of those companies continue to focus on isolated tactics rather than complete strategies, achieving less-than-ideal results.
"Mid market companies, possibly more than any other segment, must invest in a comprehensive strategy," continued Yost. "Implementing tactic after tactic on a piecemeal basis results in an expensive process, and fails to gain a complete view of the customer and their interactions with the company."
CRM process In implementing a CRM strategy, Tribridge suggests that businesses follow a clear process that includes the following stages:
- Customer assessment: Evaluate the current customer experience, from both customer and employee perspectives (including channel partners), to ensure that all touch points with the customer are considered. Set clear customer relationship goals to determine where the customer experience deviates from expectations.
- Process and procedure improvement: Identify and improve mission-critical business processes based on the results of the customer assessment.
- Selection and implementation of CRM system: Define technology needs that support improved processes, and identify tools that can meet those needs.
- Alignment of customer touch points with CRM goals: Ensure that employees and partners are equipped with the training and attitude to provide the desired customer experience.
Evaluating CRM "Although many expect CRM to drive revenue, it often yields a more qualitative and subjective result," explained Yost. Factors to be considered include: retention of top-tier customers, acquisition of new top-tier customers, and measurements of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Although businesses often concentrate on the technology aspects of CRM, it is a much broader strategy that focuses on all areas in which the company interacts and maintains relationships with its customers.
CRM empowers staff with knowledge so they can provide better service, quicker responses, and improved customer satisfaction. By integrating all the contact touch points of a customer's relationship, sales and marketing staff can analyse data and target offers more effectively, and service employees can get the information they need to provide better service.