Business is all about relationships, especially relationships with the brand`s customers. The better your business can manage customer relationships with these key stakeholders, the more it will grow.
To be successful, a business must retain its existing customers while reaching out to new customers. This means connecting with customers on multiple platforms across many channels.
As you open more routes to reach more customers, managing those relationships and interactions you gathered becomes more and more critical.
This is where customer relationship management (CRM) becomes essential for your company to engage.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software has become a near-essential tool for businesses of all sizes. CRM software can provide several benefits to any brand, from organizing contacts to automating core tasks.
It can also be a centralized, organized hub that allows consistent communication both with customers and within the company. This is especially important as more businesses shift to remote work.
The CRM software market is presently one of the fastest-growing industries, predicted to grow at a rate of 14.27% from 2020 to 2027, driven by consumer demand for better customer service, automated engagement, and more refined customer experiences.
This guide underpins what CRM is, how it works; customer relationship management strategy; CRM process.
What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?
To get a CRM meaning, imagine the Shopping mall. That’s a large space with dozens of boutiques, places to entertain your kids, and a food zone with various cafes and restaurants; I mean everything you need for your comfort under one roof.
CRM is just like the shopping mall for your business. It is a big online platform that collects information about your customers, tracks all your interactions with them, and allows you to share this data with your team to agree on improving your brand`s processes.
How CRM Works?
To understand what is customer relationship management and how it works, let’s look at its main features.
#1. Lead generation: CRM pulls all available data from the web to help you discover quality leads, those that have prospects of turning into paying customers. In particular, with a reliable CRM, you may get prospects’ contact information, location, the company they are working for, and other important data you will use for personalization goals.
#2. Lead management: CRM enables you to analyze and track any information you get about your leads, qualify, and nurture them through multiple funnels to the point of conversion.
#3. Contact management: This feature enables keeping all business contacts in one place and viewing the history of all interactions with them.
#4. Deal management: With CRM, you have the history of all your deals, which helps you to analyze any bottlenecks and come up with necessary enhancements. Besides, this feature helps predict the success of future deals.
#5. Email communication management: CRM enables you to build emails, schedule follow-ups, and use email templates for ongoing communication with prospective and existing customers.
In addition, it notifies you when a user interacts with your emails and provides you with email analytics to enhance the performance of your email marketing.
#6. Sales and marketing automation: CRM with in-built marketing and/or sales automation offers you tools that replace manual work with finding and assigning leads to just the right salespeople, contacting potentials, and many other activities.
#7. Analytics: CRM covers the necessary tools for analyzing your marketing campaign processes. It provides regular multidimensional reports that you may usually export or share with other members of your team.
#8. Integration: Many CRMs provide integration alternatives that allow syncing to the apps that you prefer and have already been making use of.
So you have all the tools you need in your pocket to smooth run your business processes.
#9. Customization: As a rule, you may tailor your CRM to the way your team operates. It offers custom modules, fields, and buttons that aid you to fine-tune its functionality to suit your needs.
Customer Relationship Management Strategy
A CRM strategy sounds intimidating to many small business owners. Is it about technology or sales? I do not know which, or is it about how high-level it should be?
Fear not, I will walk you through the basics to help you start your successful CRM strategy from scratch.
Follow me step by step as I walk you through these 8 essential steps to take when creating a CRM strategy from scratch.
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#1. Define your CRM strategy vision and objectives
The first thing to do before creating a CRM strategy is to go back to your overall marketing strategy and high-level business objectives.
Craft a vision of what you want to achieve from your CRM strategy. That way it has a clear and defined purpose from the very beginning.
Think about how you want to contribute to the growth of your business.
Improved customer satisfaction, higher productivity and efficiency, and decreasing customer churn rates are all examples of common CRM strategy goals.
#2. Define your target buyers with customer personas
Create a buyer persona that mirrors your ideal customer. Make it as comprehensive as possible. Include information such as behavioral characteristics and demographic, as well as interests, challenges, and aspirations.
Here are some research methods you can utilize:
#1. Interview your sales and customer service groups
#2. Examine different customer profiles and interview customers directly
#3. Send customer surveys
To sustain strong customer relationships and attract quality leads, you need to understand exactly who is buying from you and why they are not buying from your competitor.
Having a defined buyer profile is critical to becoming a customer-centric business. It’s key to ensuring your teams are focused on the true needs and expectations of your buyers.
That’s not all, knowing exactly who to target will also ensure your sales and marketing shots don’t waste on unsuitable leads.
#3. Clearly define your customer journey
To master CRM, you need to know each step of the buyer journey. Then you need to ensure a top-notch customer experience at each of those touchpoints in your sales funnels.
Start at the beginning.
Define every single customer interaction from the moment they first discover you. It might be through digital ad campaigns, word-of-mouth marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, direct contact with team members, or other processes.
This is where you will highlight areas for improvement and establish who is responsible for what and pay more attention to the platform that is attracting buyers more to your brand.
When mapping each stage of the customer journey, ask yourself:
#1. Which team/process is interacting with the buyer at that moment?
#2. How can these interactions be enhanced?
#3. Look at the customer personas developed in Step 2. Based on what you know about your buyer, is this his or her preferred means of communication? Could there be a more effective way to get your marketing message across?
#4. What’s the customer looking for?
#5. What challenges does the buyer face? How can you offer a better solution?
#6. What content is the buyer coming into contact with?
#4. Plan how to offer a 360° customer experience
Your customer relationship management strategy planning so far should have spotlighted the areas that need improvement.
Now you are going to look at the structure of your internal processes. Do you have the resources in place to offer a 360-degree customer experience?
Do an audit of responsibilities and roles to check all the necessary bases are being covered.
Here are key examples of areas to optimize processes:
#1. Presales: How are you doing when it comes to analyzing customer needs, collecting information, and putting together business cases?
#2. Sales processes: What sales tasks can be automated to improve efficiency?
#3. Customer relationship management: Are your offers customized to suit your customers’ needs? Are your communications tailored and relevant?
#4. After-sales: Have you put in place the necessary support systems to resolve customer problems quickly? What feedback do you get on the quality of your customer service?
In short, ask yourself ‘How can I improve?’ and then make the necessary modifications within your company.
#5. Examine the market and decide your positioning
It’s always a great idea to look to the competitive landscape for inspiration when developing customer relationship management strategies.
Ask yourself these questions:
#1. Where does your brand fit into the market?
#2. What is your unique selling proposition (USP) i.e. what makes you different from others in your industry?
#3. How do your competitors distinguish themselves?
#4. What untapped opportunities exist?
#5. Can you learn anything about how your competitors run customer relationships?
#6. What are the trends in your industry at the moment?
#6. Know your product or service like the back of your hand
Take the time to revise, develop and understand your product/service narrative and elaborate your value proposition.
What are the messages you want to convey? What benefits do you want to spotlight? Why should a customer pick you over your competitors?
Communicate this narrative internally and perform employee training where necessary. Every team member needs to be on the same page, relaying the same message.
This is also a good chance to define your brand tone of voice and put in place best practice ground rules for communicating with customers.
#7. Implement CRM software
It’s unfeasible to drive forward your CRM strategy without CRM software for your brand.
A CRM system streamlines and smoothens collaboration between teams, stores customer data, and tracks all communication between you.
To choose CRM software, study your existing business processes and get suggestions from your various teams.
The key factors to be considered are capabilities, price, and ease of use. It’s also crucial to choose a CRM tool that integrates with the other marketing tools you use.
#8. Set Key Performance Indicators
All strategic actions need to be backed up by data and figures and your CRM strategy is no exception. You should be able to measure its progress.
You defined your CRM strategy goals back in Step 1. Now you are going to give your team some concrete targets to work towards.
When setting goals for your teams, remember to make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound).
Examples of performance metrics you may wish to watch are:
#1. Customer satisfaction
#2. Customer retention
#3. Customer churn (the percentage of customers that stopped using your company’s product during a certain time frame)
The success of your CRM strategy depends largely on the levels of engagement and collaboration of your teams.
Get your employees on board and prepared from the beginning. Keep them informed, educated, and up to the minute on all aspects of your CRM strategy.
The 5 steps in the CRM process
The steps of the CRM process are a synergic effort between the marketing, sales, and support departments. To help you understand how each team works together, I will walk you through how each step works in practice.
#1. Create Brand Awareness
The first step to getting new customers is to introduce them to your business. The marketing team typically takes on this task through the following measures:
#1. Learning about your target audience: Marketers will conduct research to identify their target customer’s demographics, interests, preferred media of communication, what messaging they respond better to, and what they care about most.
#2. Segmenting your target audience: Audience personas are created to segment a brand’s target audience into similar segments based on demographics or similar interests.
This helps marketers identify which types of audiences are most likely to become customers and who their campaigns should shoot at.
#3. Creating marketing campaigns that speak to those target audiences: A/B tests and marketing automation can be leveraged to identify what works and what doesn’t, craft unique campaigns for unique customer groups such as on social media or email, and create strategies for lead generation.
#2. Acquire leads
Introducing your business to a potential customer is just the beginning of the CRM process. From there, you have to motivate them to learn more about your business and engage with it.
Depending on how your brand is structured, this lead acquisition step could be a sales or marketing team responsibility or both.
Your marketing team, for instance, might encourage website visitors to share their email with a newsletter signup call to action (CTA) or a social media giveaway.
The sales team, on the other hand, could leverage their CRM system to set up live chat on your website. With this feature, your team can proactively reach out to pros[ective customers who land on your website.
#3. Convert leads into customers
You have successfully engaged with your leads, and they are interested. Now it’s time to turn those leads into paying customers.
To achieve that, sales representatives must first be skilled at identifying how interested leads are and, specifically, whether they are interested enough to make a purchase.
A CRM system is very useful here. The historical data from past successful sales can be utilized to identify lead-qualification criteria.
These touchstones can be added as “attributes” to your CRM’s lead-scoring tool to help reps identify opportunities with the greatest probability of a sale.
If leads do seem likely to make a purchase, reps must then be able to encourage them further and build their trust enough to convert at the bottom of the funnel
One way to achieve this is for reps to send leads white papers, case studies, and other resources that may sway their decision.
#4. Offer superior customer service
You have successfully converted your lead into a paying customer. Great! But the CRM process doesn’t end when a customer converts it takes the process a step higher.
To grow as a brand, you need to retain customers. How do you keep that newly acquired customer coming back? By providing excellent service from support when they need it.
#5. Drive upsells
When we think of a returning customer, we picture a shopper continually coming back to the same business to buy the products they know and prefer.
But there is another key way existing customers offer value, by upgrading to more expensive products.
How do you convince your customers to switch products? Personalized recommendations via email are a great way to start.
You can use your CRM to group customers into smart lists based on similar purchase histories. You can then create tailored email templates that send relevant product releases to entire lists of customers at the same time.
This way, you can be sure the promotional copies or releases you send are reaching the customers that are most likely to buy them.
To stand out from the crowd and your competition, you can’t go wrong by delivering a professional, tailored, and meaningful customer experience — one that makes your customers feel like no matter what, you have got them returning to you forever.
This guide has underpinned the meaning of CRM, customer relationship management strategy, and CRM processes, I hope it has taken you to the brighter side of the basics of Customer relationship management
Going forward, you should be leveraging this great marketing tool to attract and keep customers in your conversion funnel forever.