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October 25, 2013

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CRM – What Does It Mean?

CRM has a large role to play in a successful digital marketing strategy

You may have heard of the term CRM before. You may even know what it stands for and what it means. Much like the idea of postmodernism however, there are lots of vague and clueless definitions out there of what it is. Hopefully after you’ve read this guide, you’ll have a more defined understanding of what it is and how it can help you.

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.

Simply put, CRM platforms focus on the managing and tracking of potential and existing customers. Mainly used by (though not limited to) sales and marketing teams and the other people who either deal with or manage those teams, CRM can be used in a whole different range of businesses. It is extremely beneficial for any company which holds customer relationships close to its heart and for any company where securing and retaining customers is pivotal to running a successful business.

CRM is a much more comprehensive strategy than just using a contact management system such as Microsoft Outlook’s contact management function. These purely organise your contacts so that you can select them quickly when you need to contact someone. Companies that offer CRM solutions will often additionally provide the following things so that you can fully make your customer the core of your company:

Integration of your emails

If you’re a modern business with a website and social media presence, chances are you’ll also have a very heavily used email address. Communication between the company and the customer is crucial, regardless of what method it’s made through. The majority of CRM software will integrate with your email system, so that you can keep everything to do with prioritising the customer in one convenient place.

Tracking of opportunities

CRM systems will normally keep an eye on the details of the deals which a sales team is currently working on, so that your company can be on top of securing future customers, as well as keeping hold of current ones. It’s hugely important for any business to keep its options open and not play it safe, otherwise the competition will eat you up and steal all your potential sales. A CRM system will keep track of how much each deal or sale is worth, as well as notify you of any similar companies that might be trying to hit the same base of customers or clients as you are.

Communication and Collaboration

CRM systems allow you to communicate with customers as well as manage them, but they don’t stop at that. They make it possible for colleagues within an organisation, regardless of what team they’re on, to keep a communal eye on the progress of a deal which they might all be working on. Allowing everyone to be able to view the same information is something every business should be making room for.

Automated Workflow

With many CRM systems you can pull up information on any business, including their financial status and who their competitors are. You can use this to see how your company is faring, or to see what’s currently happening with your own competition. This can make your company’s operation run much quicker because it will be informed of all the statistical information that it needs to know in order to target the right customers the right way.

If you pick CRM software which isn’t capable of doing this, don’t worry. Any decent CRM system will report on how your business is doing at any given date and time. This can be beneficial for you so that you know how everyone in your company is performing and so that you can relay to external business people who don’t have access to the CRM system how everything is going.

CRM may sound like an almost irrelevant or unnecessary thing to consider nowadays, especially considering the surge of social media in recent years. Even more so when one considers that CRM was invented in the 90s, where managing customers was achieved in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, which compared to CRM systems today can hold and share a comparatively small variety of data. But this actually means that it’s had a long time to develop and better itself. Today CRM solutions allow businesses to centralise and simplify customer information, customer contact, and overall customer management.

The other plus is that most CRM solutions have not forgotten about the importance of being ready for mobile phones. Having an Android, iPhone, Blackberry and Windows app, or at least an app in any one of those formats, is such an important thing these days and most major CRM systems have an accompanying app that you can download.

You’ll be able to manage your customers (or manage the team who manage your customers) from wherever you are in the world. Customer retention is the most important thing for a business to consider, and today’s CRM systems have made it very easy and flexible for you to keep your customers happy and satisfied whatever your business does, regardless if you’re at home, at work, or backpacking across Australia!

Loves Building Software and Digital Marketing Solutions. Technologist and Digital Entrepreneur.

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