Customer relationship management is not just a tool for sales force automation. While many businesses large and small have heard of CRM, widespread confusion on this point is holding them back from realizing its full power. Regardless of whether your company is a startup or a multinational, it’s important to realize that CRM goes far beyond letting your sales force track leads or collecting your customers’ data in one place. Properly implemented, CRM can help automate all your business processes and bring all client-facing departments together with your service organization. In other words, businesses which use CRM simply to improve initial sales performance are leaving value on the table. Using a broad view of CRM doesn’t just improve initial sales; it increases customer satisfaction, builds long-term relationships, and improves repeat sales and referrals.
Taking a Broader View of CRM
Maximizing the benefits you get from your CRM solution means using it to support general business operations and internal cross-business processes. You can use your CRM solution to provide a common data set to all departments which interact with a customer. Using this common data set, customer service personnel in all departments don’t have to start from scratch in each conversation. Instead, they all have a consistent data set to work from, and can deliver consistently excellent service.
The result is faster and more efficient customer service. Not only will this reduce up-front selling costs, but retaining customers better produces a measurable back-end revenue increase as well.
There is another benefit to integrating CRM with service management. As well as delivering a consistent experience regardless of the channel through which the person contacted you, integrating CRM with service management makes new reports available which give you a clearer and wider view of cross-department activities. You can now make decisions more efficiently and more effectively, and spot issues you might have missed before.
Three Key Steps to CRM and Service Integration
The process of bringing together different departments’ data stores into a single CRM data set can be a complex one. You can maximize your results and minimize the difficulty by keeping the following points in mind, as recommended in a recent white paper by OSF Global Services:
Define your end goal, your problem, and the processes to achieve your goal.
Always define and map out the processes of how you want departments to interact before you go ahead with integrating service management and CRM. Effective planning here is vital to the success of your effort. Allow stakeholder departments to look into the available data and work with them to define best use cases.
Ensure you have senior management support.
It is well worth the time to ensure you have support from your company’s executives before proceeding. Meet with them to secure their support for your integration plan, and leverage their sponsorship during project rollout.
Provide proper training.
A CRM approach which users cannot use will not be used. If your solution is hard to use or relies on a non-intuitive interface, it won’t get you the results it could be getting. Allocate enough resources and time to train up users.
Integrated customer relationship management is not right for all businesses. Businesses with support-intensive models will benefit from a business-wide CRM approach regardless of their size, so it is worth considering even for small businesses provided they devote significant time to customer interaction.
On the other hand, businesses which do not interact much with customers after the first sale – even if they have an extremely high order volume – may not have the ROI potential to justify an integrated approach to CRM.
The best way to find out if integrated CRM is right your business is to work with an experienced CRM service provider. They will be able to recommend a solution which is suitable for the unique demands of your business and customer service environment.