People tend to think of CRM as a simple technology, but CRM can be many things to many different businesses.
Technology research company, Gartner, defines CRM as:“A business strategy whose outcomes optimize profitability, revenue and customer satisfaction… CRM technologies should enable greater customer insight, increased customer access, more effective customer interactions, and integration throughout all customer channels and back-office enterprise functions”.
Simply put, CRM is a business strategy…notjust a technology.
At the basic level it is good contact management, but if you extend the concept of CRM into your business it can be much more than managing who you contact, how you contact and when you contact. It becomes about the way you manage processes, from the way you sell your products or service a customer, to the way your run processes internally.
So we can’t think that utilizing CRM in your business is just a case of installing a new piece of software and watching it magically solve all your business problems. A successful deployment of CRM focuses around three key things.
1) Communicate.Now’s the time to identify and connect with key stakeholders and really think about your business issues – what are you trying to solve? For example, are you trying to improve efficiency or better understand your customers?
Once you’ve recognized those challenges you can begin to think in terms of measurements and identifying targets. This helps you develop clear strategic objectives and understand where you want to be, essential to proving the return on investment from your CRM.
2) Collaboration.Interact with other areas of your business; you may discover things you’ve not thought of or get new ideas. Remember good collaboration can move CRM initiatives company-wide. Inquiring outside of your department can help you recognize where you can link up processes to provide the best value for your customers and share knowledge.
3) Compete.Of course you must spend time understanding the capabilities of CRM software packages but you must spend more time thinking about your own business. What are your core competencies compared to your competitors? How can your CRM make that competency even better? CRM can, of course, improve your marketing function or empower your sales force, but successful CRM could be a whole lot more.
Look long and hard at your products, your staff and particularly your processes. Where can you improve? Where can you add leverage? And can you use them as business drivers to make your CRM support you and go further?
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