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What is CRM? And do I really need one?

This is the first post in our ‘enxoo essentials’ series, a collection of posts that can hold your hand through the perplexing world of CRM, Cloud Computing and the Salesforce industry.

You may have heard the acronym ‘CRM’ thrown around a few times, and you may be wondering what it means and if you need one.

‘CRM’ stands for ‘Customer Relationship Management’. In this post, I’m going to break down what each element means, and why it should be the core piece of any business.

Customer

No one is ignorant to the fact that in order to stay in business in the 21st century, you have to run a customer-centric business. The modern day prospect or customer has access to a wealth of information, and is therefore far more informed - you can’t pull wool over anyone’s eyes anymore! Distance is shrinking, and isn’t even a consideration in e-commerce buyer’s minds. Furthermore, Globalisation means you are competing with the world, not just with the guy down the street.

So now, it’s a case of how can you adapt to attract your customer’s attention.

In order to do this, you need to know exactly who they are. A CRM is essentially a database where you are building up a picture of your customer as an individual, not just a number or a fleeting interaction.

A CRM instance is just like a spreadsheet document.

Picture a spreadsheet. You have rows, columns, and sheets.

You would start by populating the columns; what criteria am I going to store about these people? Criteria such as name, contact information, their favourite product etc.

These are your ‘fields’.

Then you’ll want to separate your customers out on a row each, to show that each individual will have different phone numbers, product preferences, etc to the next one.

These are your ‘records’.

Once you have populated all your data, you will build up a comprehensive profile of your customers, giving context to the touch-points with your organisation.

However, the sheet in this example will only contain your customers contacts. If you wanted to store information about your product range, for example, buy price, sale price, launch date, SKU… then you would need to store this in a separate sheet.

In this way, you can see how a CRM in its most basic form is modeled just like a spreadsheet.

Relationship

Everyone expects your brand to provide an experience beyond a one-time, static encounter. If you want to gain the full lifetime value of a customer, you have to forge relationships.

So, how do you do that?

Companies that attract and retain customers successfully obtain the lifetime value of a customer; and they do this by considering the synergies between Marketing, Sales and Service, so that the customer’s experience is as fluid as possible.

Fluidity in the customer journey is achieved by departments knowing everything that has happened to that customer before and after their part in the cycle.

Examples of disjointed customer journeys:

1. A customer has to repeat their contact details to a Sales rep, even after they submitted them in a form on your website.

2. A customer rings up about a faulty product. The customer service rep has to tediously record all of the customer’s details, and then have no idea which products this customer bought or when. The customer grows increasingly frustrated.

3. Marketing send out an email campaign that isn’t relevant to that customer. It’s basically spam to them.

Disjointed customer journeys do not give customers confidence, and sadly, they will not grow your profits.

Creating a holistic view of the customer from a systems point of view requires data relationships. Data relationships enable you to relate the records in the separate sheets to one another. For example, E.Brown may have bought product X and Product Y, which will relate all the data about the products to their customer record.

Management

Thanks to the data and the relationships you’ve now established, you can get acquainted with your customer.

But, CRMs are not just data repositories in the cloud. In order to grow your business, you need to know what’s going on, and you need to know that now.

Good CRMs on the market will advertise analytics as a selling point, enabling you to pull reports on data instantaneously, based on parameters that you specify. For instance, you could get the data on all my customers, bought a product in the past month, and have raised a complaint with support. The report from this example would be able to indicate if you’ve launched a faulty product onto the market.

Reacting fast is important, but making the best decisions for your customers is equally as important.

Some vendors are even building in Artificial Intelligence and machine-learning to make data predictive, so you can respond to customer needs before they even arise.

But it shouldn’t just be for those at management level - every employee should know what is going on, relevant to their role. Take the Sales Team as an example: sales reps should be able to see incoming leads, manage their pipeline and see what business they’ve closed.

This is a very high-level overview of CRM, but I hope that we’ve justified why you need a CRM.

To summarise simply, you need CRM if:

  • You have customers
  • You care about maintaining relationships with your customers
  • You want to react quickly, whilst making informed decisions and
  • You want to stay at the peak of your game
  • In another blog post, we will talk about common mistakes businesses make when designing and implementing their CRMs, and what you can do to avoid that trap.


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