It seems to happen overnight. One day you open for business and the next you celebrate your 1,000th customer.
How can you keep them, and thousands more, happy? A customer relationship management (CRM) system is the perfect solution to help maintain, keep track of and anticipate every customer need. CRMs are robust and, when used properly, streamline all major customer interactions, and support marketing campaigns and efforts.
Benefits of CRM
Perhaps the biggest benefit of using a CRM is organization. You now have one centralized place where you can store all contacts information. Initially, when transitioning to a CRM system, you will manage basic contact information such as phone numbers, email addresses and preferred contact information. Once fully integrated, you’ll be able to flesh out every single customer trait and track raw data.
You now have a single storage portal for all of your contacts. Creating even just this initial structure helps navigate better among the many wants and needs of your customers. As users build on this foundation they quickly see more benefits to a quality CRM system.
The right software integrates a company’s typical workflow and minimizes time spent on tasks. Setting up automation boosts customer engagement and provides consistency. The latter is where companies trip themselves up. When customers expect a clear idea and instead get mixed messages they become more confused than enthused.
Increased Selling Opportunities
Few companies want to stop at 1,000 customers. Sometimes they struggle to come up with great ideas to grow that customer base. One way is to know what they have already bought. A CRM has the ability to track purchasing patterns and provide insight into their trends.
Through the use of analytics a marketing team can develop micro-targeted plans and strategies for encouraging more sales at specific times. Capitalizing on an existing customer base provides greater ROI. Showing customers you know what they want, perhaps even before they do, keeps them happy.
In addition to managing a customer base, CRM is also robust enough to function as a progress tracker for your organization. Each new set of leads is assigned to sales reps and their conversion or buyer’s journey is tracked from that point on. This extension of customer service, therefore, is monitored and if changes need to take place, the CRM platform provides a starting point for acting on sales trends and closing gaps. Part of this tracking shows how each sales rep is doing and their strengths.
CRM and the Marketing Lifecycle
Many organizations use the CRM in conjunction with overall marketing goals. With such valuable information housed in CRM software, it only makes sense to build goals for marketing automation within CRM. Marketing automation requires the set-up of many steps, but the ultimate goal is to increase sales through building a solid customer base that you monitor through the marketing lifecycle.
Despite trying to perfect the process, all leads are not good leads. Marketing automation helps to make sure you get as many good leads as you possibly can. A CRM, gathers a lead’s information, where it’s tracked and stored. A successful marketing lifecycle has the following stages: attract, educate, wow, sell and close. Once a lead has closed a customer is born and the lifecycle repeats itself in hopes of developing a repeat customer.
Being able to project and create stability with repeat business helps a business plan ahead, and ultimately grow in a healthy, managed way.
The customer lifecycle has become synonymous with the marketing funnel, though the concepts are slightly different. Leads funnel in and throughout various stages they get filtered until they become qualified to sell and close. This funnel, in turn, helps organizations gain control of their customer base. A CRM system helps determine what to do with that control and where best to allocate resources.
CRM as Journey Guide
Once a company generates qualified leads, CRM tracks actions of a potential customer through social media, email and website channels. A quality CRM absorbs as much information as possible on leads before guiding them through a planned journey that hits all the hot spots. Ultimately a company can save money by targeting its marketing dollars better, rather than a scattershot “hope for the best” approach.
Example: A lead looks for painting services. A well-informed remodel and repair business first finds out the reason for the paint job, planned budget and the location of the work. If the person indicates a specific reason or timeline for the paint job and also mentions their house is in need of more repairs, the business has an opportunity for a sale. Conversely, if this lead provides information that suggests they are looking for paint at local stores to do the work themselves, you know this lead will probably continue to fall out of the funnel. Therefore, work toward this lead should end and instead go toward other more likely prospects.
Choosing and implementation of a CRM is an extensive task and for some overwhelming. While the best providers will offer professional help to set-up and use software, it’s good to have insight into the best practices for CRM implementation.
Identify and segment contacts
Instead of using a CRM to simply store your contacts, optimize this information and segment lists to help support your marketing efforts. Create targeted lists of leads and customers by using customer trends such as purchasing, website fingerprints, and questions.
Hot vs. cold leads
Refer back to the painting services example. Instead of blindly helping out a customer who only wants to buy paint (cold lead), look for leads who have expressed interest in a vendor, in addition to other services (hot lead). Your CRM is able to help funnel hot and cold leads, but only with the right filters to automate this process.
Re-engage cold leads
So, maybe at the time you couldn’t help the lead with painting services as their desired vendor, but it just so happens that you also do other home repairs. Once you find out this information, create a targeted marketing campaign, promote your repair work and re-engage the lead and possibly turn them into a hot lead. A CRM is about using gathered information to your advantage and learning as much as you can about a potential customer so you can convert.
Keeping your current customers engaged and happy
Monitor your CRM using analytical information and reports to stay on track of your customers. The best CRM automatically tracks all customer behavior and demographics requested. Creating fields for this special information elevates the customer experience, and allows a small business to better serve them.
Customer service is one business philosophy that stays intact because it continues to motivate customers to give their purchasing dollars to a company. A CRM becomes the lifeline to the customer. It promotes positive customer experiences and in turn a company get the best information directly from the source. While it works in-hand with marketing efforts, implementing a CRM system is ultimately a tool for the customers; one which also improves sales.
For you, the business owner, moving forward with a CRM helps you get organized and save time. You’ll have the tools to attract, wow and sell more quickly than you have before.