When we hear the term CRM, we typically think of generating leads and bolstering sales funnels, and to be sure, a major benefit of any CRM platform is to build your company’s bottom line by giving you the tools to go out and find consumers that you can convert into customers. But, sadly, businesses too often tend to think of CRM solely in terms of how it affects ROI via new customer acquisition and client retention. Wouldn’t it be better if we also used our CRM platforms to build customer relations from a more organic perspective?
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Maintaining customer relationships isn’t just about generating new leads and converting those leads. It’s also not solely about fixing customer problems. It’s about going above and beyond what’s expected and getting your constituency to engage in the conversations that you’ve created. And whether you’re a small, mid-sized or enterprise-level company, one thing that your customers expect is transparency. This means that if you’re not adapting to how consumers expect companies to behave, then you will probably end up losing potential or current customers to your competitors.
How should companies behave? In this day and age, marketing material has shifted from the standpoint of helping businesses sell to helping consumers buy and, as a result, consumers are more educated than ever about the products that they’re in the market for. As a direct correlation of this shift, CRM platforms have grown from solely existing as lead generation tools and have evolved into major drivers behind loyalty and relationship management. That being said, many companies still aren’t unlocking the full potential of their CRM systems in terms of how they can use them to help facilitate communications across the board. In this slideshow, Himanshu Sareen, CEO of Icreon Tech, has identified five CRM initiatives that he believes will help you connect better with the people who help build your bottom line, and keep it going strong.
Connect with Customers, Build a Stronger Business
Click through for five CRM initiatives that can help you better connect with the people who help build your bottom line, and keep it going strong, as identified by Himanshu Sareen, CEO of Icreon Tech.
Align Sales and Marketing Goals/Language
This first initiative should go without saying, and technically, you should be aligning your sales and marketing teams whether you use a CRM platform or not. That being said, any basic CRM system will store the data of your prospective leads as well as your current clients. Use this data to gain insights about your customers and share it across both teams. Usually it happens that marketers develop their collateral, such as white papers and email campaigns, without first consulting sales. This is a major mistake, as sales people are the ones on the ground talking to your current and prospective clients. At the end of the day, both your marketing and sales teams should have one ideal customer in mind, and your CRM not only has the tools to reach them, it has a wealth of data that can be used as a jumping off point when discussing strategies that benefit both sides of your acquisition force.
Tools that can help you align marketing and sales teams? Chatter, from Salesforce is an enterprise social network that allows disparate teams to share ideas and stay connected at the speed of social media.
Use CRM to Help with Social Initiatives and to Stay Connected
CRM hasn’t been used as a basic digital rolodex for quite some time and, more and more, it’s not being used solely for email campaigns and controlling other internal messaging. Social media has quickly become a place where customers can reach out to the companies that they buy their products and services from, and CRM tools have adapted. Take, for example, the Social Engagement function of Microsoft Dynamics. This tool allows users to not only listen socially and identify trending topics that consumers are already discussing, it allows users to engage through the updated UI, which affects workflow and collaborative efforts considerably. Keep in mind, however, that this isn’t a cheap option (the Social Engagement feature of Dynamics starts at about $100 per month per user), so if you’re a small and growing company, this option may not be tenable.
Consider Live Chat with Customers
Any good CRM software is going to be easily customizable—allowing you to select the tools that can help your business grow. One tool that many CRM platforms integrate into their suite of features is a live chat tool. Being able to live chat with customers that click through to your website offers a low barrier to entry when it comes to communicating with them, and it can be effective in getting your website visitors to engage with your company. A live chat feature can be especially effective if you run an e-commerce site where customers might have product questions, as the quicker you can respond to customer needs, the more likely you are to evangelize them. Sareen wouldn’t, however, recommend this feature to companies that can’t spare the manpower to have customer service representatives online at all times, as there’s no point in lowering the barrier to customer engagement if there’s no one on the other end to talk to. If you are ready to integrate a live chat feature into your current CRM system, you might consider checking out LiveChat.inc, which is particularly good at integrations with multiple CRM and CMS systems. The cost of doing business with a live chat function might be high, but the benefits can include solving customer problems on the spot, as well as providing a wealth of new leads for your sales team.
The most important person to your business is, without a doubt, the customer, and surveys are an effective way of showing your customer that you care about their opinions. What’s more, in this age of increasing business transparency, if you don’t know what your customer base thinks of your business, then you’re doing something wrong. Whether you’re using your CRM to integrate a survey into your actual site (for this, Survey Monkey is an exceptional tool), or to email customers with survey questions, it’s important to your business that you get feedback as often as you can. You should also be tailoring your surveys to fulfill your end goal. What does this mean? If you want to know why customers aren’t converting on your site, begin with this question and then circle back to develop questions that will drive answers to the conversion problems you’re having.
Use CRM to Reward Loyal Customers
Finally, you should be using your CRM platform to reward customers who are loyal to you. Instead of only sending out emails that remind clients to check out if they’ve left their shopping cart full, or to ask them questions about their level of satisfaction with service they’ve received, make sure to also schedule messaging campaigns that offer them incentives to continuing being loyal to your business. These can be anything from informative white papers to discount codes. However, before using your CRM to reward loyal customers, it’s important to identify what types of rewards they consider to be valuable.