What is a customer relationship management system

Even though it started as a way to grow other industries, CRM has become an entire industry of its own. It is touted as the new way to conduct business- a global standard for sales and customer service.

Utilising CRM for small businesses is often thought to be one of the best ways to improve customer relations and take a startup to the next level.

CRM is also a buzzword, something that many companies like to throw around and something even more people have heard of but might not completely understand. Just what is a customer relationship management system and why has it seemingly taken the business world over by storm?

It’s as simple as it sounds

In many ways, CRM is exactly what it sounds like. It is a sales and customer relationship management system with the primary goal of helping companies connect with their customers.

This is accomplished by keeping detailed information about customers and clients that is easily accessible via a digital database. It’s like writing notes on the back of a new customer’s business card, except far more organised, more detailed, and more effective.

It’s possible to separate prospects from regular clients, and to keep track of every interaction that employees have with customers, from the beginning of the sales pipeline to the end.

So how does this improve the relationship between the customer and the business? It eliminates guesswork that might come from multiple salespeople dealing with the same customer.

If all transactions and interactions are recorded, there will never be a question as to whether the customer received their product or service, whether they paid for it, and whether they were satisfied.

It also makes it easier to connect on a personal level. Every time a client calls, their info can be brought up in a second- their favorite product, how long they’ve been a customer, even their favorite sports team- and referenced right on the spot.

The customer will appreciate the amount of effort that has gone into getting to know them.

An important collaboration tool

The amount of data kept by CRM is accessible to everyone in the company (unless you choose to restrict access). Think about how this can make collaboration between coworkers faster and more intuitive.

Rather than participating in email chains between countless employees or playing “phone tag,” employees can just access the CRM database for all of the information they might need.

If you’ve ever gone through phone customer service with a large corporation- whether it was for an internet company or a cell phone company- you likely know just how frustrating getting support can be.

It’s not uncommon to get transferred to three or more different departments, each time speaking to one or two different people. The worst part: every time they all ask the same questions that you just answered with somebody else! CRM aims to stop this madness by providing a detailed record of the customer interaction to whoever it is they are dealing with.

If the customer needs to go through support, they will likely end up talking to a supervisor or a customer service agent rather than a salesperson. The old way meant different employees forwarding information all over the place to each other, and the “story” of the customer was bound to end up fragmented and pieces of information were bound to be forgotten.

Now, with everything consolidated, the customer is more likely to get the support they need because all of the information is integrated and accessible.

How exactly does CRM grow business?

Many CRM systems also provide built-in marketing capability. By drawing on the customer information database, it is much easier to target marketing efforts to people who will actually be interested in your company.

Rather than simply randomly selecting a group of people and hoping marketing efforts stick, CRM aims to be selective and more efficient.

In addition to marketing, CRM is also all about closing sales. You are already more likely to close a sale by going after someone that is interested in your product. From there, it’s possible to send automated emails that follow up with customers, providing a nice personal touch.

CRM is designed to guide salespeople through every step of the sales pipeline, and to provide customers with positive interactions throughout the whole experience. The end result is to make customers so satisfied, they become unpaid marketers for your company.

There are more and more CRM functionalities that are coming out everyday, all intended to increase sales, promote positive and memorable customer interactions, and grow business.

It’s useful for more than just salespeople- the majority of industries have something to gain from CRM. The ubiquity of CRM is also one of the many reasons that companies are able to take advantage of Big Data, which opens up countless other possibilities for businesses of all sizes.