By Sandra Swanepoel, vice president, Mid-Market Africa & Middle East at Sage
As a startup, you may have had a ‘little black book’ where you noted the names of your most important customers and their key details, like what sort of products/services they usually buy from you and the last interaction you had with them.
As your business began to grow, you may have started to capture you client’s contact details and other account information on spreadsheets to track them.
Overtime, and as your business continues to expand, this is bound to get messy.
Manually keeping track of your customers – who they are, what they buy, and when last a company rep from your company spoke to them – makes it difficult for people in your business to share information across the team.
You also can’t be sure that everyone is keeping customer records up-to-date or that everyone has access to a uniform set of information. Or you might have a situation where your sales and service team keep a lot of customer information in their heads rather than recorded in an electronic database.
This is where customer relationship management (CRM) can help – it is a must-have tool for any business with a growing customer base in a market where your customer experience is what sets you apart from the competition.
What is CRM, actually?
CRM is software that you can use track your customer relationships over their lifecycle. It provides you with a single, central place to store your customer data as well as the tools to analyse your relationships with each customer.
You get CRM software designed for businesses of all sizes and specific industries. Some of the basic features you will find in a good solution include the following:
- Customer data: the ability to manage basic customer details such contact details.
- Contact management: the ability to track and plan interactions with customers, such as a site visit by a sales rep or a routine maintenance call from your service team.
- Marketing: tools to segment your customer base and manage and automate multichannel marketing campaigns across social media, mail, email and the telephone.
- Sales: lead generation and tracking, quotation management, territory management, and other features to empower the salesforce and track their performance.
- Service: functionality to manage service interactions such as helpdesk support, service tickets, service level agreements and service planning.
- Analytics and reports: these help you to analyse customer behaviour and profitability, the sales funnel, salesforce performance, sales opportunities, and so on, so that you can maximise profitability and customer
When to consider investing in CRM
Many Small & Medium Businesses think of CRM software as a complex product that only large companies require. However, as customers become more demanding across all industries, businesses of all sizes can benefit from using CRM to offer slicker, more automated experience to their customers.
Some signs that your business might benefit from CRM include the following:
- Your marketing, sales and service teams don’t have access to a single, up-to-date repository of customer information.
- You can’t get a clear view of your sales pipeline without asking each salesperson what they’re working on.
- You’re not able to track the leads you generate and how your team is following up on them.
- Your sales team keep important account information in their heads or stored locally on their computers.
- You are not sure about the day-to-day service issues your important customers have encountered in recent weeks.
- Your sales and marketing teams are spending too much time capturing information and not enough time selling.
- Your salespeople can’t access and capture customer information while they’re in the road—they need to phone someone or come into the office.
CRM is a great investment in your business
Customers are the lifeblood of any successful business. Nurturing customers and providing them with an excellent customer experience will improve your retention rate and drive growth. This starts with having the right information at your fingertips to understand what relationship your company has with them as well as how it can respond to their changing needs and desires.