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CRM as a Business Strategy

Looking at your Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM’s) as a piece of software? Think again. While CRM’s are getting better, easier and cheaper to use, this year more companies are positioning their CRM’s as a marketing channel to map the true value of their clients to aid their competitive edge.

For those unfamiliar with CRMs, it’s time to familiarise yourselves or be left behind. A CRM is a strategy to manage your company’s interactions with your customers, clients and your prospects. Long gone is the old trustworthy little black book. Today, CRMs use technology to streamline and automate information, enhancing your business processes. CRMs allow you to measure and record your interactions and keep your sales, marketing and business development system streamlined and efficient.

Not too long ago, surveys reported 70-75% of all CRM initiatives failed. That was yesterday. This is today.

Smart companies will position CRM as a strategy and corporate asset from the outset. This dynamic communication system will be your corporate memory and tactical delivery channel for targeted campaigns and will be used by everyone across the organisation, not just by the sales team. Positioned and used correctly with all this valuable information tracked and mapped, your CRM can be valued as part of your asset register and eventually sold for premium.

How do you create the strategy/vision, manage expectations, organise around the customer and implement CRM best practice? And what are the latest trends in CRM?

  1. Branding is more important than ever. Brands are increasingly becoming a surrogate for value, making brand more critical as generic features continue to propagate in the brand landscape.
  2. Value is the new black: Consumer spending, even on sale items, will continue to be replaced by a reason-to-buy at all. The era of “because I said so” is over. This will more than likely challenge most companies.
  3. The rise of the Datarati. Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian once said that “Datarati are companies that have the edge in consumer data insight…Data is ubiquitous and cheap, analytical ability is scarce… The sexiest job in the next ten years will be statistician.” How true. There has been and will continue to be an increased focus on data analysis as companies continue to invest in measuring social media, understanding customer value and modeling customer behavior. If you don’t use your data to talk to your customers, others will. The investment in data aggregation and the hiring of “sexy” statisticians is a major trend in 2011 and will be for years to come.
  4.  Customer Experience: Customers have more choices than ever, and are more frugal. This affords them the luxury to demand more. This is the year that the CRM Marketer will be charged with offering a consistent experience across all company touch points and developing the infrastructure to allow knowledge sharing and smart communication. Smart marketers will identify and capitalise on unmet expectations. Companies that understand where the strongest expectations exist will be the companies that survive and prosper. The customer’s mobile and online experiences will begin to evolve and rival the customer’s offline experience – attentive assistants and all.
  5.  Personalisation and customisation: In order to be effective in 2011 and beyond, companies will seek to increase customer knowledge and use this insight to talk, engage and interact with their customers more often and more meaningfully in new and innovative ways (including dynamic content, blogs to other social networking). 2011 onwards will be up close and personal, like it or not.
So what is CRM Best Practice?

  •     CRM is about putting your customer at the centre or heart of your business
  •     CRM is about building better relationships with your customers
  •     CRM can give you a 360-degree view of the customer which enables you to improve the quality and satisfaction of each customer interaction and maximize the profitability of your customer relationships… a win/win for both you and your customers
  •     CRM can be practiced across all levels within a business from the ‘C’ Suite to customer service, product development, procurement, distribution, marketing, and of course sales.
So

  •     Do your senior managers, sales people and your broader business know why you have a CRM?
  •     If so, do they know how to use it and why it will benefit them to do so?
  •     Do they know what information needs to be captured and how it will be used?
  •     Do they know how it will help them grow, develop and retain viable clients?
  •     Does your CRM strategy and subsequent software make life easier for your sales people to make sales or not?
  •     Does your CRM strategy and subsequent software support everyone in your business to make life easier for your clients and each other?
Your CRM needs to be a business strategy and a way of life not just a piece of software.
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