Manage customer information using a Customer Database System or CRM system, get efficient, provide value, excel in customer service, and do more with less. If you haven’t considered a customer database system, then lets explore what it is and how it can benefit your business.
Companies need to store customer information, for small companies, in many cases tends to be in the form of spreadsheets or even emails, or using contacts in email clients. As the company grows, this quickly becomes unmanageable, spreadsheets not located in a shared location, each person has their own local edits etc.
When a contact is made with an existing or new customer, if this response is not recorded in a central location, no one knows who said what. Next time a customer makes contact you have to start the conversation all over again.
Having information stored centrally means that you can have one place for everyone to access it, and updates can be controlled.
Once you have your customer database, or information in a central location, you can start to organise the data, from marketing and sales quotes to delivery of your products or services and even after sales. Of course you don’t have to do all that in one go, but we will discuss more on that later. Customer database systems are sometimes referred to as a CRM or Customer Relationship Management system.
Getting Started with CRM
It’s good to have a vision and a strategy of what you want to achieve, perhaps you already have an idea based on how you manage information currently. With that vision in mind you have a big picture, but don’t try and implement everything in one go. Ensure it’s easy and simple to use, after all your employee’s will be using it a lot.
Why not start using a CRM, or Customer management database system for sales quotes and purchases to start with. Overtime, this can lead to a great insight for your sales and marketing team, potentially you will be able to figure out the type of prospects that become customers, which marketing strategies work best etc. You can also use it to manage quotes by allocating quotes to a specific team, or staff to respond, set reminders for quotes that haven’t been followed up, email quotes in a consistent manner etc.
Now that all your customer information is in a customer database system, make the other operations of your business easier and slicker, consider the following, either integrate it into your existing system, or bolt-on to your CRM:
- Invoice and billing
- After sales / customer service
- Delivery (where this could be warehouse and shipping, or service, whatever you provide your customers)
Again this doesn’t have to be done in one go, and to repeat myself, keep it simple, and easy to use.
Automation: Finally automate where it makes sense to do so. What do I mean by that? , Well lets just consider a few examples: run reports, automatic invoicing, export data from invoicing into accounting system without manually entering data, sending alerts and reminders. Automation can be a powerfully way to increase your value by removing manual repetitive tasks.
Types of (CRM) Customer Database systems
Getting the right customer relationship management system is important, it will be the means by which you will potentially interact with your potential customer. There are several types of CRM systems:
There are several companies that offer CRM solutions, catering for complex requirements of enterprise companies, to basic solutions for smaller businesses. Off the shelf solutions have the advantage of being tried and tested, and it’s one of the cheaper options.
The disadvantage is that you may not get all the features you want. It may not work the way you or your company necessary work. Sometimes you are forced to change your processes in order to use the software.
Software As a Service (SAS)
Web based hosted CRM application is a ready-made system, which allows you to get started quickly without having to aquire technical skills. Depending upon the hosting provider, you can also get started with minimum investment.
As with Off-the-Shelf software, features and ability to customise it may not be available, this depends on the provider or course.
This is software specifically tailored for your requirements, your company and your unique circumstances. You can start off with a basic system, then build on it as your company grows. Integration into existing systems can be setup to ensure invoicing, billing are all connected, no more re-keying invoices into accounting, or duplicating effort from quotes into sales. Choosing the right company to develop the software for you is important, as is knowing what you want out of the system being developed.
Benefits of CRM
Hopefully if you’ve read this far, you probably already have an idea how an CRM system can be beneficial for a company, some examples are:
- Increase sales by providing a slick experience to customers, identifying customer needs and cross-selling.
- Improve marketing.
- Customer experience leads to retention
- Reduce your cost of selling, and after sales operations.
- Reporting of sales in real-time and forecasting.
Here are some aspects of a CRM system you may be interested in :
- Contact management
- Sales Quotation
- Customer service/technical support ticking system
- Task management/job scheduling
- Appointment bookings
If you want to know more, or are interested in getting started on any aspect of a Customer Database system (CRM) then why not get in touch, see if we can help you to achieve success, email, or contact us.