CRM is a phrase that most large corporations and small businesses alike, are well aware of. But do they all really understand why? Do they fully grasp how important Customer Relationship Management is to their bottom line? And more important, do they fully grasp how important their customers are?
It is funny to me reading some of the articles I come across during my day and the points they’re trying to make. They talk of customers and how they need to be treated, how important they are, how you should do this or that (insert today’s buzzword here) to make them happier and to get them to repeat their business with you. I read these articles and opinions and at the end am left thinking “Really?”. Is it really necessary to make such an issue with this? Is it really not obvious that customers should be the center of every business?
I then start my day dealing with other companies and the answer becomes quickly obvious. It must not be common sense, because most companies I deal with on a daily basis just don’t get it. They’re rude, unhelpful, tell me they’ll do things and never follow through, and generally leave me wishing I had alternatives.
Now I know how hard it is to keep every customer happy. We have thousands using Lizzy on a daily basis and most are very pleased with the business we run. We take great strides to make sure each one is taken care of, spoken to and followed up with. Even with all our hard work, it is hard to take care of 100% of the issues the second they arise. However, if you were to speak with any of our customers, I think most are very dedicated to us because they know at the end of the day we are listening and we do care. These are hard things to come by in today’s world of business and to maintain this level of dedication to our customers we need a way to track all of the data.
Consider a typical day and how many phone calls we make and receive. All the new customers we speak with and all of the emails coming in asking for information. Consider all of the tickets from customers needing help, or wishing they had a new feature here or there. Every piece of data we receive we want to keep. We don’t want anything lost and we want to track every concern or need. The problem quickly becomes……how do you do that? How do you keep track of so much data in a meaningful way that you can come back to when needed. How do you organize those tickets in a way that none are lost and that every customer knows you’re at least listening to them?
You may start out trying to at least document the problems. Then you make a list of their needs. Eventually you see that these lists are becoming difficult to manage so you move to a software program to help you manage them. If it does a good job then maybe you solve those issues, but you still have the problem of conversations with customers, call backs, sales opportunities and other things that come up. Eventually you opt for yet another program to help out with those aspects and you continue to move forward.
A typical CRM system is really nothing more than a way to let technology help you to keep up with all of that data. It provides reports and screens that enable you to review what has been done and what needs to be done. It provides you with calendars and email to help keep track of things internally instead of having to integrate all sorts of other apps together. But its goal at the end of the day is to let you go home and know that when you come back tomorrow you won’t forget to do something.
PDM is another aspect of CRM with respect to keeping track of specific issues, but it really shares the same purpose. We want our customers to be informed, up to date and to know without a doubt that we do value their business and want to keep it.
Sometimes it’s a very hard game to play. Customers needs or wants may far exceed your ability to make them happy. In our case it’s why we personally try to demo each customer the application instead of just having them signup and start paying. We enter demos with the goal of eliminating the customer instead of signing them up which sounds strange but actually works quite well. After all, if we can’t eliminate them it means we’re a good fit and we don’t need to worry about having an upset customer after the sell.
The point I’m trying to make is that CRM should NOT be viewed as the solution to all of your problems. It is a tool, and in the proper hands can yield extremely good results. But you can’t loose focus of the fact that its still a tool, and the way you deal with your customers and run the rest of your business is important and can’t be neglected.
So the real benefits of CRM isn’t just having a phone book and being able to get customers information quickly, its about providing a tool that helps make that customer more involved in the relationship they have with you. Providing tools for your people to stay in touch, customers informed and to provide that little something extra to keep them coming back.
So use your CRM system like any other tool, stay focused on happy customers and go the extra mile to keep them that way. Your CRM system, if used properly, will help to insure you meet your goals and exceed your customers.