Customer Relationship Management

A CRM can transform your business or become your worst nightmare.

Customer service good or bad can affect your business in many ways. Small mistakes can lead to major issues down the line that could be construed as bad customer service leading to one or more of the following conditions.

  1. Damage your company’s reputation
  2. Stops leads or opportunities from converting to business
  3. Customer lifetime value drops
  4. Great employees leave
  5. And a downward spiral begins.

Situations that are usually unacceptable to a business are long wait times, poor attention to detail, lack of experience or product knowledge and unprofessional or impersonal actions by staff members that could be caused by the CRM.

Businesses that are guilty of these unacceptable customer situations above usually have a difficult time overcoming the loss of customer confidence and could lead to the total businesses collapse. The good news is that with the correct staff most customer related issues can be overcome if the corrective action is taken speedily and effectively.

Many organizations falsely believe that by adding a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to the mix will resolve all of their bad customer relationship issues. This is a gross misunderstanding of the actual issues that caused the bad customer service in the first place, people.

A CRM is there to help good staff keep track of their actions and transaction with your customers. It is important to have a CRM that is accurate and up to date at all times. With incorrect policies a CRM will become a company’s biggest nightmare. Quotes, orders and invoices all rely on the accuracy of the customers information stored in the CRM, the policy should include a customer creation and update procedures with staff training at the top of the list. Creating duplicate accounts due to using different naming schemes, assigning contacts to the incorrect accounts are just two of the most common issues. These are introduced by untrained or dishonest staff with no repercussions for sloppy work.

Migrating Data from old legacy or merging data from two or more companies to a new CRM system always opens the door for introducing errors. Before handing over a new CRM to the sales and marketing departments one has to ensure that the data is accurate and complete, has no duplicate companies or organizations, no duplicate contacts and must have a complete management capability preventing staff from recreating duplicates. Your migration should have verified that all physical, mailing and email addresses are correct. That all related contacts either relationships within household, businesses or networks are accurate. Employee, agents or brokers, suppliers and their assets, and any channel partner data that helps your organization understand the target market and serve your customers to the best of your abilities needs to be verified before use. Remember that getting this data accurate does not happen by chance, it requires a project with meticulous planning and budgeting. If you skimp on this part of your CRM project, your have a high probability of failure. Its not the fault of the staff that use the data but the migration team that does not verify the data that are to blame. It does not matter how much you pay for the use of the CRM or how good it is on paper but a second-rate CRM with accurate data is far better that the costliest or the very best one with inconsistent and incorrect data.

Clean up your data as soon as possible or suffer the consequences of frustrated and disgruntled customers and staff. You could lose both in a very short time.

open source product

A CRM is a complex tool and requires a lot of setup, choose your CRM based on your requirements and not on what it could do for you. Many aspects of a CRM are based on automation freeing up your staff to better utilize their time with more important customer relations task. Please remember a CRM does not sell products for you, sales people do this based on relationships and bonds that are formed between your customers and your staff. Support your sales staff in any way possible. The collaboration processes of this tool should have great rewards as people share common information and data.

Never forget to lay down some rules, your CRM can only be effective if your company allows it to be. No CRM can function if it is being misused by your staff, either intentionally or unintentionally. Creating some rules and making sure that your workforce has been properly trained will alleviate some issues and have a smoother transition to and a better acceptance of your CRM.

Building Revenue on Relationships

We have all heard the term CLV or Customer Lifetime Value and how important this is to a successful business relationship. A customer strategy should be built on a culture of your customers success and tracking their satisfaction. Some key factors to take into account when dealing with CLV are:

  • Good communications, not too little and not too much as too much is construed as spam
  • Being sensitive to a person’s emotions and needs
  • Any issues and pain points should be noted and addressed
  • Always remember that these points may be multifaceted or layered
  • Knowing where your customer is at this point will help with any business transactions.

Your CRM should be the tool used by your workforce to track the amount of communications, emotions or needs and their pain points.

Do factor in the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, that is attributed to the Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto. Applying this principal to your business and your CRM configurations, helps keeping track of the 80% of your company sales that come from only 20% of your customers. These 20% are your core customers and need to be your top priority for accuracy when updating or configurating a new a CRM.

A business analyst should be consulted to assist with the elicitation of requirements before, during and after a migration is considered. The stakeholders that will be using it as their sales tool, the templates used in the sales processes, invoices used in the close process, and pricing with a structured discount need to be considered and consistent throughout the elicitation process. As I have said before, a CRM is only as good as its first implementation, so make sure that it is done correctly before any access is given to the stakeholders.

Good luck