Customer relationship management (CRM) has become a vital part of sales planning over the last decade. As companies work to develop engaging customer experiences, they must develop systems for tracking individual customers' data. Managing customer relationships is nothing new, but today's software tools allow you to see the entire customer journey in a way that has never been possible in the past.
It has been reported that 65% of businesses adopt a CRM software platform within the first five years of operation, indicating a clear need for solutions that help companies work with a large volume of customer data. In this article, we will explore the overall goal of customer relationship management and how these software systems and related tools are used by companies to improve customer engagement and satisfaction.
What is a CRM Solution?
The term CRM stands for customer relationship management and most often refers to technology used to manage all aspects of a company’s customer interactions. These platforms usually include a suite of tools with capabilities for tracking contacts, updating sales activities, and generating leads. Some of the standard features of these software systems include:
- Sales team assignments
- Social media monitoring
- Proposal management
- Customer loyalty tracking
- Calendar management
- Quote management
- Email marketing
Using a CRM gives your entire team focus and prioritize activities that will have the most significant impact on customer engagement and sales. As you will see in this post, a CRM can have an incredible influence on your company that goes far beyond merely increasing productivity. It is possible to design an effective company-wide system that genuinely embodies the goal and principles of customer relationship management.
What Is the Ultimate Goal of CRM?
The ultimate goal of the discipline of customer relationship management, and associated CRM systems, is efficiently managing and improving business relationships. There are stages in creating and leveraging customer relationships that break down the entire relationship lifecycle into phases with distinct goals. Each of these five stages plays an integral role in the development of effective sales, service, and marketing goals:
- Customer Acquisition – Targeting your most profitable customers
- Customer Retention – Keeping customers interested by offering exceptional products and outstanding customer service
- Customer Development – Up-selling, cross-selling, and cross channel product development
- Customer Consultation – Using customer feedback to improve product and operations
- Customer Conversion – Converting your highest value customers to brand advocates
Since each customer relationship can evolve through each of these stages, it may also be necessary to modify individual sales and customer engagement plans over time. With a CRM software solution, you can achieve greater visibility into your customer behaviors, sales activities, and supporting processes.
How Should Companies Use Customer Relationship Management?
To improve customer relationships, companies have been able to develop a series of interconnected goals that make customer communications a priority. The goals of any individual company will vary based on their current growth plans, industry, and unique situation. But in general terms, the following goals are a critical part of most CRM deployments.
Long-term Relationships. Nearly all CRM strategies take a very long-term approach to relationship development. Some potential objectives to keep in mind include developing customer referrals, repeat purchases, and loyalty programs.
Customer-Centric. Companies that are truly devoted to the needs of their customers develop organization structures, processes, and goals that support customer relationship management activities. One of the best ways that companies can take full advantage of CRM is to hold their various departments accountable for metrics that have the most significant impact on customer retention and sales.
Systematic Approach. CRM software platforms offer the advantage of workflow management, with tools for creating streamlined processes. By managing the customer lifecycle in an organized way, it is possible to train staff more effectively while gaining new insights from your customer data.
Flexible Integrations. Integrating a CRM with your other systems can help develop your customer relationships by reducing the number of manual updates. Integration with a help desk software like a shared inbox, knowledge base, and other tools will give you immediate access to customer data within each system.
Customer Satisfaction. Increasing customer satisfaction is one of the most important ways to develop long-term loyalty and repeat business. A CRM can help you identify customer needs, track feedback, and manage your customer service improvements. The reporting features also allow you to track customer metrics from several different sources, such as help desk metrics, customer satisfaction scores, and more.
Managing customer relationships today is complex, and the number of software systems and social media platforms makes it even more of a challenge. Improving relationships in a way that develops long-term business results is an ultimate goal of CRM systems and practices. By implementing the right software tools and learning how to use them effectively, you can reap the many benefits of customer relationship management for your organization.