Posted by Pamela Swift in People & Relationships
Businesses have never before had so much access to so much information about their customers. Information is power, and for businesses, that power translates into the ability to provide a level of customer service that will elevate the bottom line. One of the biggest challenges that businesses currently face is storing, accessing and effectively utilizing all that valuable data.
When data is stored in multiple systems, it’s more difficult to ensure that it isn’t duplicated or outdated, which increases data storage costs. It can also adversely affect the customer experience. Among the problems it can create are longer wait times and improper handling of customer complaints. With the advent of social media, a single mishandled complaint can result in the loss of other customers, as well as potential future customers.
Consumer expectations have grown faster than inflation. Not only do they expect prompt and efficient customer service, but they expect to receive it over multiple channels of communication. Smartphones and tablets have replaced desktops as the preferred medium for online shopping and social communication. Businesses have also gone mobile, and need to be able to access data from anywhere.
CRM software is one of the most effective tools for increasing consistency and reliability, two of the most vital elements of customer relationship management. It increases the ability of businesses to track, analyze, and manage both data and customer interactions. That ability usually results in higher customer retention rates as well as sales growth.
Salesforce, one of the pioneers of cloud-based CRM software, is the most well-known. However, so many businesses are taking advantage of all the capabilities of these services that there are now a wide variety, for a wide variety of budgets, to choose from.
Software developers have shifted their focus to creating CRM software designed specifically for particular industries. For example, for real estate brokerage firms, email tracking capability is a must-have feature. It’s important to maintain relationships with those who are planning to buy or sell, but not immediately. Agents are also on the go almost constantly, and the ability to access data anytime and anywhere is vital. Notes taken in the field regarding properties and timelines are immediately available to everyone in the office.
Integrating all of a company’s communication channels, including their website, telephone, direct mail, social media and live chat provides customers with three important elements of great customer service—mobility, flexibility, and choice. It also allows businesses to easily record and track customer interactions and gather valuable information about their personal preferences and purchasing habits. It can ensure that no lead ever goes unfollowed.
Social media is where consumers share information about their purchases and customer service experiences. Good CRM systems have tools that allow businesses to use social media to form customer communities. One of the benefits of such communities is that members share information, post reviews and answer questions for each other about products and services. It’s a high-tech version of the timeless truth that the best advertising is word of mouth. It also results in fewer calls for technical support.
CRM software systems aren’t just for improving customer service, though. They can also improve communication between management and employees. Managers are more able to recognize and give credit where credit is due with a system that tracks employee performance and productivity, and make helpful suggestions when it isn’t.
A good CRM software system can potentially help transform any type of business into a more productive, efficient, and customer-engaged version of itself. However, according to an article in Forbes, even the best and most user-friendly CRM software requires good management. One expert in the fields suggests that making a successful transition to a streamlined system requires strong administrators who know how to use all the valuable tools they offer to best advantage.
While CRM software is extremely user friendly, providing training for everyone who will be using it is a wise investment. Employees may feel intimidated by the prospect of the extra work required to learn a new system. Managers confronted by those complaints should remind their teams that while it may entail some extra work now, it will enable them to work smarter, rather than harder, in the future.