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Customer relationship management, or CRM, is a customer-focused marketing strategy. Its implementation requires specialist CRM software that pulls together and centralizes information from various sources, helping B2B companies to manage their customer activities. The goal is to form a better relationship with customers, by understanding them better, in this way increasing sales. This understanding is based upon the data that the software handles, analyzes, and presents for sales staff, marketers and others to act upon.
This data includes information about phone calls, emails, activity on the company website, order status, past issues, meetings, geographic location, demographics, spending habits, contact information, opinions, and preferences. CRM tracks customer history, keeps their data up to date, and allows you to view the customer in the context of this data in order to better communicate and connect with them.
There are several benefits to using CRM. You may use past data collected to predict future behavior, determining or influencing your interaction with your customers. This in turn helps you form long-term relationships with customers, which can increase their loyalty to your brand. Offering the best service to meet customer preferences improves the customer experience. It becomes easier to understand how to keep customers happy, which leads to less turnaround, thus less of a need to find new customers. Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95% (Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company). It is also easier to attract new customers when you know your current customers well.
CRM also enables you to create a more efficient advertising approach, tailored and targeted to specific customers. Segmentation is easier; one customer’s data can be merged with others to create groups of people who may fit the same profile. Selling across platforms becomes easier with easy access to data. All this fosters repeat buyers and potential brand advocates.
There are additional benefits to using CRM that increase efficiency. Predicting future behavior based on past actions gives a better understanding of potential future resources required. Data analysis and availability can help you to resolve problems as they arise, such as a decline in sales, customer attrition, or issues with individual transactions. Tracking of sales can give a more accurate financial overview. CRM can track ROI and the success and failure of sales strategies and your approach to customer service.
You will likely need to change or modify your company’s standard operating procedure when implementing CRM. Your team needs to be committed to the new approach to customer relations in order for it to be fully implemented. You can choose “embedding” of CRM throughout your company, for a more comprehensive approach, affecting all aspects and departments. Different types of CRM software options include purchased CRM software customized to your company’s needs (arguably the most efficient and expensive option), and web-based SaaS (software as a service) CRM that allows you to subscribe to a customized array of CRM applications. Examples of CRM software and SaaS solutions include HubSpot, SAP CRM, Oracle CRM, Salesforce, Zoho CRM, and Sugar CRM.
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