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What is Customer Relationship Management?
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What is Customer Relationship Management?

It’s easy to become confused or intimidated by the huge, homogenous mass that is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – probably because, in fact, it’s so huge and homogenous.

You can, of course, distil the concept of CRM into a single sentence: it’s a software-backed strategy for retaining and generating customer relationships across every part of the customer journey or lifecycle.

While this kind of definition gives a broad sense of CRM, it also gestures towards a vast array of features and factors: after all, to manage the entirety of a customer’s journey, CRM tools and practices need to encompass elements of customer service, marketing, sales, and so on – which can make the whole enterprise feel a little bit overwhelming.

Luckily, we now have the tools and tech to address these seemingly disparate components of the CRM process – often in a single, convenient package.

CRM systems explained

At heart, CRM systems are all about the data.

Knowledge is power in a variety of contexts, and customer information is no exception for businesses who want to offer efficient and comprehensive customer service, for example – but that’s only one of several CRM components.

The right customer information, collated and aggregated in one place by a CRM system, can not only keep track of a given customer’s previous interactions (thereby allowing you to help them as quickly as possible) – such data can also be grist to your analytics mill, providing you with a bird’s eye view on customer behaviour at scale and allowing you to improve satisfaction levels or increase the precision of your marketing efforts.

Your CRM software won’t stop at providing the data – many will also provide you with the tools to use their insights by identifying opportunities for automation, stripping away the time-consuming tedium of various elements of contact centre and sales work.

These features leave your workers free to deal with the more complex and creative side to improving customer satisfaction, while providing your customers themselves with a no-fuss approach towards enjoying your service.

Just as importantly, CRM systems tend to be secure, with databases locked down in the cloud and only accessible to the right people, teams, and regions – which can’t be said for the likes of Excel, which is a popular choice for some firms who recognise the value of CRM but fail to consider the fallibility of a simple spreadsheet that lacks the checks and balances of a true CRM tool.

Why should I care about CRM systems?

Assuming that more efficient internal workflows aren’t enough to convince you of the value of a robust CRM strategy (for some reason!), it’s hard to overstate the value of customer satisfaction.

Though common sense alone is enough to suggest that a satisfied customer – one who enjoys a frictionless buying experience and who always has a good experience with customer service agents – has business value, there’s been a flurry of research that underscores this point.

According to PwC, 86 per cent of customers will actually pay more if they’re getting a good customer experience – and, similarly, the loyalty brought on by a strong CRM strategy results in repeat customers that typically spend 67 per cent more than their newer counterparts.

This post can only scratch the surface of CRM’s many benefits and features – but, crucially, the rise of CRM systems like Salesforce and Microsoft means that, large and varied through such features may be, they’ve never been more accessible or conveniently packaged.

As such, there’s really no reason not to embrace the world of CRM – and finally show that pesky threat of customer churn who’s in charge around here.

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