The Rising Role of CRM in Business

By Andre Smith

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The most important element in the success of any business is communication. Business communication is sharing information with the goal of benefitting an organization. How a company shares information about its products and services with consumers can mean the difference between just making a sale and creating a life-long customer. One element of successful business communication is consistency. Any type of mutually beneficial relationship must be nurtured in order to thrive, and business relationships are no exception.

Social media has made it possible to maintain more relationships than ever before. With a single Facebook or Twitter update, you can send a message to all of your friends simultaneously. While most businesses utilize social media to their advantage, many are realizing that just maintaining consistent contact isn't enough. Today's consumers expect that contact to contain value that reflects their personal buying preferences. Those preferences include methods of communication as well as quality products and services at affordable prices.

That's why more businesses are taking advantage of all the benefits that Customer Relations Management (CRM) software has to offer. The ability to gather and store information about potential new customers, such as how, where, when, and why they visited your site, is just the beginning. Analytics uses that information to ensure that future communications are personalized according to their personal preferences and buying habits. Automation makes it possible to let each and every one of those potential customers know that their visit was appreciated as well as send them more information about a specific product or service.

One of the greatest benefits of the software is the ability to expand your customer base without neglecting the loyal customer base you've already taken so much time and care to cultivate. CRM software was designed specifically for that purpose and also gives your customers more choices in how they communicate. Some prefer finding information through having enjoyable conversations with other customers, while others prefer a live chat with a customer service representative.

 

Essential Features

CRM software is an investment with one of the highest returns in the business world, averaging a return of $5 for every $1 spent. Storyteller Media and Communications reported increased sales by 75% of sales managers that implemented a CRM software system. They also saw an increase of 40% in short term sales. However, not all CRM systems are alike. Experts agree that there are some features and capabilities that are essential, no matter what type of business you're in.

Ease of use is at the top of the list. It won't matter how many amazing capabilities a software program has if your employees can't figure out how to use it. Studies show that 45% of shoppers use their mobile devices to research products, compare prices or make purchases. That's why multichannel support and remote and mobile access are essential. List, data, and campaign management capabilities help you keep your customers informed about upcoming sales and new products. Lead generation and tracking capabilities are vital for cultivating new customers.

Many of the big names in CRM software provide all of these features and many more. Unfortunately, smaller businesses find their cost prohibitive and don't really need the many extras. That's one reason many choose software designed specifically for their profession by someone with extensive industry experience. Employees report being able to adapt more quickly to these systems because they employ industry-specific terminology and processes with which they are already familiar. Specialized CRM software provides a number of benefits.

For example, real estate professionals need tools that enable them to track client information, agency information, and both local and national housing trends. They have to analyze sales cycles, generate reports, and create action plans. Specialized CRM software allows them to automate many of these processes, freeing up more of their time to spend with clients providing high-quality customer service. It also improves communication and collaboration between departments and individuals within your organization. Having access to all relevant data enables more effective coordination and prevents duplication.

While CRM software can increase the effectiveness of all your business communications, it's vital to ensure that your valuable customer data is safe while implementing it. That's why your software should allow you to control access for every user. Frank Eliason, Director of Global Social Media for Citigroup, recommends that rather than everyone having access to customer data, demographic data should remain confidential. Further, employees should only have only the amount of access required to perform their jobs effectively.


Whether you want your small business to become a big business, or remain a small business with more satisfied customers, the right CRM software, chosen and implemented wisely, can help you achieve your goal.

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