If you’re a business with customers, you’re engaged in CRM; if you’re a business without customers, you’re probably still engaged in CRM, just in a very different way. CRM is short for customer-relationship management, and in some sense, it’s everything we do; whether you’re looking to acquire customers, retain customers or relate to customers, you’re trying to manage the customer experience. If you have an inbox for customer e-mails, you’re working with CRM software, just at a very basic level.
When we talk about CRM, we’re usually talking about CRM software; virtual tools designed to make it easier to sort, analyze and act on information about your interaction with customers. That means there’s a variety of different CRM software to complete a variety of different analytical tasks. You might have CRM software that monitors marketing; it would accumulate and analyze data relating to a particular marketing campaign, perhaps by analyzing what demographics click a particular link, or by evaluating responses from a survey. You might also have a service focused CRM program, which accumulates and analyzes data about how customer service affects your relationships with customers; surveys at the end of a call in a call centre to judge satisfaction are an example of service based CRM.
Optimally, you want the variety of CRM softwares at your disposal working together to give you a better picture of all the ways in which you relate to your customers. The data can be accumulated through surveys, e-mails, sales tracking, or a variety of other ways. As you accumulate data, you can use it to segment customers into particular demographic or even psychographic profiles; this can give you a better idea of who your target markets should be, and where you have room for growth. You might use that information to push for sales in the highest spending demographic, or to branch out into areas where there’s an unfilled niche. Knowledge is power, and CRM softwares can help you harness that knowledge into something greater. You can even use the software to find out if there are common complaints about your products or services, so you can employ agile marketing strategies to fix those problems and improve your creations.
When employing CRM, it can be tempting to see all of that data and sort every customer into a profile with a number attached. Resist this urge, and always remember: customers are people, not just a number. Encourage your service and sales staff to always keep the human element in mind; when we reduce everyone to statistics, it can make us less able to adapt to changes in consumer mindset.
Great CRM requires great bookkeeping, so you can track where your money is being made and input it into the analytics systems. If you need help with bookkeeping, it can be a good idea to get in touch with an accounting firm; while it’s probably best to leave the bookkeeping to a bookkeeper, an accountant can help you make sure that the bookkeeping is well-standardized to feed the information into whatever analytic CRM software you’re using.