INTRODUCTION TO TOPIC
Customer Relationship Management Defined
Most companies engage in some form of customer relationship management. When a company builds a customer list, assigns opportunities to sales representatives, or handles customer support cases, they are undertaking CRM-related activities.
CRM applications standardize, automate, and share these activities across organizations to improve how companies interact with their customers.
The principles, practices, and guidelines that an organization follows when interacting with its customers. From the organization's point of view, this entire relationship not only encompasses the direct interaction aspect, such as sales and/or service related processes, but also in the forecasting and analysis of customer trends and behaviors, which ultimately serve to enhance the customer's overall experience
Before adopting a CRM application, companies should understand how they interact with customers in order to understand the benefits they can derive from CRM applications.
Some questions to ask are:
How do I segment prospects and present them with compelling marketing offers?
Does my sales force effectively manage opportunities and coordinate their sales process across individuals and teams?
How does my support organization handle customer issues?
Are my employees communicating effectively across teams and departments?
Does my management team have the insight across marketing, sales, and service to make the correct decisions?
CRM applications are an integral piece of the overall customer experience. These systems work best when a clear CRM strategy is in place. Building a true customer-centric organization requires companies to:
Establish measurable business goals.
Align business and IT organizations.
Build executive sponsorship.
Allow business goals to dictate CRM customizations.
Solicit end users in product customizations.
Invest in training for end users.
Measure, monitor, and track results.
A CRM application should be part of a company’s overall business strategy. Business alignment is key to user adoption and business success.
Challenges with Customer Interactions
The graphic below illustrates some challenges companies face in key functional areas.
Improving Customer Facing Interaction
CRM applications allow companies to improve customer-facing interactions across various channels; including sales, partner channels, the Web, and call centers.
To accomplish this, CRM systems often tie into other core systems that help to run the business including accounting, order management, enterprise resource planning (ERP), manufacturing, provisioning and supply chain management systems. The graphic below shows how CRM can manage important customer-facing functions across channels and systems.
Automating Customer Facing Processes
CRM applications automate certain customer-facing processes and provide solutions around key functional areas to enable companies to interact with customers in a more consistent, structured approach. The solutions are described in the table below.
Sales Force Automation (SFA)
Improves sales performance by allowing sales representatives to track and share opportunities, manage and up-sell into existing accounts, coordinate activities across teams, monitor pipeline stages through dashboards, and work offline with mobile solutions.
Improves customer relationships by helping support representatives track customer cases, manage product problems, respond to customer inquiries, and share customer service information across the entire organization.
Allows companies to develop, launch, and track campaigns and other marketing offers to customers. Marketing automation integrates closely with Sales Force Automation to ensure leads are effectively passed between marketing and sales departments.