Customer relationship management (CRM) is a widely-implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new clients, nurture and retain those the company already has, entice former clients back into the fold, and reduce the costs of marketing and client service. Customer relationship management describes a company-wide business strategy including customer-interface departments as well as other departments.
The three phases in which CRM support the relationship between a business and its customers are to:
- Acquire: CRM can help a business acquire new customers through contact management, selling, and fulfillment.
- Enhance: web-enabled CRM combined with customer service tools offers customers service from a team of sales and service specialists, which offers customers the convenience of one-stop shopping.
- Retain: CRM software and databases enable a business to identify and reward its loyal customers and further develop its targeted marketing and relationship marketing initiatives.
Customer relationship management is high on the corporate agenda. Recent research carried out by Business Intelligence reveals that six out of ten companies have already started out on the CRM journey, and a further quarter are planning to do so. Improved customer profitability, life-time value and increased sales are just some of the benefits.
But CRM is more than customer satisfaction or a new SFA system, more than developing a new website or call centre. Being customer-centric is a while new way of doing business. It could completely transform the way of doing business. It could completely transform the way your company operates and will have major implications for people, processes and technology. Planning for and managing change in these three key areas is crucial – neglect any of them and your CRM programme will hardly get off the ground.
If you have been tracking conversations around social media for business, you have undoubtedly come across people talking about Social CRM. If you are anything like me, the first time you heard it, you probably rolled your eyes and said, “Ugh, another social media buzzword!” And while I do take issue with the jargon itself (and will discuss that later), Social CRM is a central concept that businesses need to understand deeply and integrate fully, in order to serve the social customer.
Social CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.
For many large organizations — particularly those that have been through a series of acquisitions — managing customer relationships is not a matter of whether they have a CRM system, but how many.
Take, for example, Synopsys Inc. a maker of electronic design automation (EDA) technology for developing systems on chips. It grew its revenue from $500 million to $1 billion by acquiring more than 40 EDA companies in roughly 10 years, and with it came 17 different legacy CRM systems.
“When we had a new acquisition it would just add to the list of systems,” said Ani Bhutkar, group director of corporate applications for the Mountain View, Calif.-based company. “Halfway through the spree of acquisitions we [realized that we needed] a master system that things would integrate into.”