Customer service has greatly evolved over the years and customer expectations are higher than they’ve ever been. Customers now want to be treated like they are a priority and receive a personalized experience. This means companies need to build an actual relationship with their customers.
Those relationships can pay off too. Customers become loyal when they are treated well and service is straightforward. In 2020, Gartner found that decreasing customer effort rates resulted in an 86% increase in the likelihood that a customer would return to engage in a business interaction of higher value.
Brands need to keep in mind that competition is fierce though. Customers have options and can easily find a competitor to turn to. Businesses need to utilize all the resources available to them to keep customers happy and returning and data is one of those resources.
Data is a hot commodity these days and businesses rely heavily on customer data to inform their decisions to improve products or services and help build those customer relationships. That’s why a good CRM system is so essential today. A CRM system will do the heavy lifting for you and let you focus on big-picture things.
Want to invest in a CRM solution? Then this guide will provide you with all the information you need to start your search.
What Does CRM Mean?
When people are discussing CRM they generally mean customer relationship management and a CRM solution is a software system that manages all of a company’s customer interactions and data to influence customer relationships. CRM solutions are big business all on their own. In 2020, the global customer relationship management market was worth USD 52.64 billion and grew at an estimated rate of 10% compared to the average year-on-year growth rate in previous years.
CRM software actually strives to manage the customer relationship across the entire customer lifecycle and target multiple aspects, including sales, marketing, digital commerce, and service management. By pulling customer data at every touchpoint, a business stays informed on their customer’s behavior to predict ways to gain more customers and what additional services they can add to existing customers.
Employees also have access to customers’ information, in real-time, in a single location to be able to provide a higher level of customer service. This creates a well-informed team, which cuts down on information silos and prevents miscommunications, with more effective collaboration.
Typically, a CRM solution is provided by a SaaS (software as a service) company and comes with a variety of features, depending on the specific company. A business will pay a monthly fee for a subscription to access the CRM solution and the service provider will keep the software up-to-date with any new available features or changes to existing features.
The History of CRM
The idea of customer relationship management dates back to the 1970s but didn’t become the concept as we know it today until the 1980s. Kate and Robert D. Kestenbaum came up with database marketing, which is a statistical method applied to gathering customer data and analyzing it.
Then Pat Sullivan and Mike Muhney brought out a customer evaluation system referred to as ACT (automated contact tracking). Customer relationship management started to become fairly popular in the late 1990s thanks to the work of Siebel, Gartner, and IBM. During this time, many products were created to manage customer data, and a stand-alone, cloud-hosted customer base came along years later.
Today, CRM solutions have been adapted to incorporate the rise of social data and new social channels for customer communications. Artificial intelligence has also started to become an essential feature for further automation and providing customers with self-service options.
What Does a CRM Solution Have to Offer a Business?
- Generate and Segment Leads
A good CRM solution should be able to help you identify new, qualified leads to pursue. Part of customer relationship management is to find new customers and raise awareness to them about your brand. It will then track their movements through the sales funnel and help retain customers long-term.
Lead segmentation will also separate leads depending on a set list of criteria that you set beforehand. The CRM system will score the leads it generates to identify the most qualified ones that are worth the time. Sales wants to prioritize leads that are most likely to be converted from prospective customers to repeat business. Marketing can benefit as well from this tool by receiving leads that may need more priming to become qualified leads.
- Real-Time Data and Reports
CRM systems allow a business to finally leave the spreadsheets behind by keeping track of data, such as a customer’s purchase history, order status and tracking, contact information, and much more. This data is collected in real-time which gives a comprehensive view of customers to fuel marketing decisions and how customers can best be served. If you know which products or services work best for customers then they can be expanded on and the ones that may need a boost can be identified, as well.
Statistics on sales metrics are generated into easily accessible reports to give a deeper understanding of the sales process. Reports should be customizable, so you can pick and choose what information you see and how it is delivered to you.
Data can also greatly help customer support personnel to give better service across all channels. Agents can see all previous customer interactions so there is no need for them to waste time searching for information. Having customer data available at the click of a button allows agents to give a more personalized experience. A report shows that 76% of customers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions and 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.
- Integrated Call Feature
Sales teams need to be able to call the qualified leads that the CRM generates and customers will want to call a company’s customer service department when they have any problems that need to be resolved or questions. A CRM solution should come with integrated call features to facilitate those calls or at least allow other tools with call features to be integrated without issue.
Most likely a VoIP phone system will be built-in and allow phone calls to be made from an employee’s computer. VoIP stands for voice over Internet Protocol (IP) and only requires an internet connection for phone calls to be made. A power dialer and/or predictive dialer should also be integrated. These dialing systems automatically make calls from a contact list so personnel do not have to go back and forth between the phone and a call list to manually dial numbers.
- Email Automation
Email is far from dead and checking email can actually be a large part of a person’s job. If it’s an option then Customers will want to email in with questions or concerns, particularly those who do not prefer to talk on the phone. Email is also an important component of many company’s marketing strategy. It is estimated that email generates $42 for every $1 dollar spent, which is a 4,200% ROI.
CRM solutions will typically at least connect with email and allow emails to be sent and log emails automatically. An even better CRM solution will give you the ability to create emails from pre-existing templates, or build your own templates that can be personalized for every contact and automatically send them out. Automatic follow-up emails can be set up, as well.
- Mobile CRM
The world is more mobile than it has ever been before and business can often be conducted outside of a traditional office. That is why a CRM solution that is mobile is essential nowadays. CRM systems can offer mobile apps that can be accessed from smartphones, tablets, and any other internet-enabled device, so you can view and manage your CRM on the go.
A mobile CRM also allows employees to work from home or work out in the field and you can automate tasks and certain customer interactions to elevate the customer experience with additional communication. This also lends to the customer experience as information is truly available from anywhere and employees can give the best service when they can access information even from a mobile device.
Finally, your CRM solution should provide overall customization of your software so you can be in control to decide and choose exactly what features you need and want. As was stated above, you should be able to customize the reports you receive in your CRM, but there are other areas that are customizable for you as a manager and your employees.
Dashboards are one of those features that are completely customizable where all customer data is located and easily sorted for anyone to see, depending on what information they need at any one particular moment. The CRM solution should also be able to be integrated with other tools you use, for further customization and ease of use.
On Premise VS. Cloud-Based
When looking for a CRM solution, one thing to consider is how it will fit the needs of the business. Some companies may prefer CRM software that is on-premise and others may benefit more from a cloud-based CRM solution. Actually, an increasing majority are choosing cloud-based software, as there are several advantages over on-premise.
On-premise software is just as it sounds, located at the site of the company. This means a business will have to purchase a license for the software and the server and have it installed in the office. An IT person will need to be available in case the server goes down and needs repairs/troubleshooting. Despite this though, an on-premise software does not rely on an internet connection, like a cloud-based system does, and can offer more of a guarantee for consistency in service and better security.
A cloud-based CRM system stores data in the cloud, on a remote server that relies on an internet connection. Employees can access the CRM system from any location, whether in a different office or working remotely from home. It is also scalable and as a company grows/expands its operations then the cloud-based CRM can easily accommodate this. Service providers are also responsible for maintaining and updating the software, so there is no need to hire an extra IT person.
Overall, a great CRM solution can make a huge difference in how your company operates. So, be sure to check out LiveVox’s Unified CRM for a solution that syncs information across systems. The CRM system was designed with the customer in mind at every touchpoint and interaction. Simplify campaign creation for quick execution and get access to tailored omnichannel workflows.