Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) is more than just installing a piece of software; it is a marketing strategy that can be used to create lasting relationships that transform one-time customers into loyal brand evangelists. CRM software provides businesses of all sizes with a number of tools for building better customer relationships, from improving engagement to enhancing employee training to implementing more refined marketing efforts that convert leads more effectively. To achieve a global competitive advantage, small and midsize businesses should consider the positive impact CRM can have on consumer engagement.
While building better engagement with customers is the primary function of CRM software, it is a software solution that can also provide an opportunity for businesses to reduce costs by improving marketing ROI, increasing profits by targeting customers who will be more likely to respond, and improving spending rates of existing customers through cross-selling functionality. CRM is the funnel that filters out the big data information and intelligence that businesses need to respond more nimbly to customers.
Using CRM for Competitive Advantage
One of the primary advantages of Customer Relationship Marketing is its ability to allow the business to directly engage with their customers and improve commerce. Through CRM the business can:
- Solicit and respond to customer feedback
- Gain in-depth insight about customer behavior
- Test customer response to product and price changes
- Build customer demographic profiles to improve lead generation and conversion
- Provide a system for rewarding loyalty
Your IT staff may be able to play a major role in implementing a CRM solution. In addition to ensuring that the CRM software you choose integrates fully with existing software and legacy applications, your IT team is often fully responsible for providing the visible implementation of the solution, including:
- Integrating information into the website
- Creating seamless and simple ordering
- Providing intelligent cross-selling opportunities during shopping
- Providing complete product information
- Implementing live chat, email, and other lead conversion efforts
- Collecting and analyzing data for better decision making
In addition to rolling out the CRM and integrating it successfully into the business and its various existing applications, IT will be responsible for ensuring that the overall infrastructure of the business is capable of handling the CRM solution. This may require assessing and implementing additional systems and processes to address security, data storage, data integrity, and recovery. Because the opportunity to collect usable and actionable data through CRM software is so big, IT plays a critical role in accessing, analyzing, and parsing that data into information midsize business leaders can use to make decisions.
Implementing CRM software forces IT into a more customer-facing role, and in that capacity, it becomes critical for IT to work closely with marketing, sales, and leadership to ensure that the implementation and management of the CRM solution meets the goals of the business. It also forces everyone else in the company to have a more client-focused approach to business, creating numerous opportunities for attaining a competitive advantage, building brand loyalty, and growing the business. A number of different CRM solutions are available, from low-end SaaS solutions to high-end network applications, so there is an appropriate customer relationship marketing solution for your business.
Editor’s Note: Samantha Hawkins is a professional blogger that discusses criminal defense related topics. She writes for Musca Law, a leading Florida Criminal Defense law firm.