CRM Software – Best Practices
Marketing and customer relations have become essential tools for 21st-century companies, including SMEs/SMIs. This is why all eyes are on the solution of choice intended to support marketing actions and customer management: CRM software.
CRM is a solution now widely used by companies, either independently or as an additional module integrated into a more comprehensive solution such as an ERP.
In such a way that if it makes the company and certain users happy, it can, on the contrary, be a source of annoyance for those it is supposed to help, the customers. As for prospects, they can be frankly annoyed by specific inappropriate uses.
CRM Software – A Tool Geared Towards Your Existing Customers
Before rushing headlong into prospecting actions that can be intrusive and that we can understand in an economical context where competition is exacerbated, let’s go back to the foundation of CRM: the relationship with customers.
It should be kept in mind that this solution was “invented” to keep track of customer relations, starting with their orders and any problems and contacts with the after-sales service that they might have encountered in the past. It is, therefore, a priority to ensure, in the context of proper use, two essential points: that as many people as possible access the CRM software to be able to update and enrich it … and that they use it in that sense.
We may wonder if it’s not better not to have a CRM than to use one that is full of outdated information. Insofar as it is customary, during direct contact with the customer, to check some basic information (his position, his address or that of his company, his email address, etc.), it can be excruciating for the latter to note that all the information is erroneous.
Conversely, even if the data is up to date, it is only very advisable not to “spread” a large amount of information concerning the customer in full view of the customer: provided that you are legally authorized to hold this information, which is not always the case, he may not appreciate this excessive knowledge of his “intimacy”.
On the other hand, you must prioritize great care in recording and monitoring orders and incidents (tickets, after-sales service, etc.). Hence the interest in integrating the CRM into an ERP solution, which can be responsible for partly automating these updates.
On this condition, the CRM can fully fulfill its role and become an effective sales tool. The objective will be, for example, to anticipate the purchases of an existing customer, to forecast an overall sales volume and, therefore, seasonal production so as not to be overwhelmed and lose sales, to detect a possible reference error when an order (if it differs from previous orders)…
An Effective IT Solution If We Inject Some Humanity Into It.
For a good use of CRM software, it is necessary to try to bring humanity and attention to it so as not to fall into the trap of making it only a commercial tool.
More and more, the customer sets the tempo of commercial activities, and it is no longer possible to proceed like 20 years ago. The customer has regained control of the sales process and does not want to be pushed around, let alone harassed.
The CRM, therefore, becomes a tool for controlling and centralizing customer-related information and a validation tool for orders, for example. We must be careful not to use it too aggressively and ostentatiously; under these conditions, it retains all its effectiveness.
How? By using, for example, social networks to take advantage of the CRM and increase its efficiency without annoying customers or prospects.
As we have seen, the CRM is required to record a large amount of information if it is used regularly, and this information needs to be handled with caution. They must also be up to date if we want to avoid misunderstandings with customers or prospects.
CRM Software – Automation To The Rescue
Since the birth of the CRM, and its rise in the 90s, the effectiveness of the CRM remains linked to the capacity of the company’s users to update the data concerning each account or each customer/prospect. However, this is often the problem: integrating or modifying the data manually takes time, and those in direct contact with the outside of the company are sometimes reluctant to devote this time, specifically sales representatives.
Sometimes, there may even be parallel files in the form of paper files or spreadsheets created and updated without everyone’s knowledge so as not to have to share some essential information.
These are practices from another age, which tend to disappear due to the automation of many processes in customer relations, marketing, commercial actions, and sales management. Integrated into an ERP, the CRM software is perfectly capable of automatically recording, comparing and updating a great deal of information.
There is, a priori, no potential danger for the customer if one takes the trouble to check with the CNIL that all the information is authorized to appear in this database. The information from your company is rarely personal, so it is often insufficient: how to update more personal information?
New Social Media Capabilities
Remember that behaviors have changed a lot in the space of 10 years. A client or a prospect may be reluctant or justifiably worried before communicating personal data such as his new function, address, and company. But he’s increasingly inclined to update them himself …on social media.
Therefore, you can often find information that can be very useful for first contact or even before a new contact with an existing customer. Social Selling takes these new practices into account and relies on CRM to partially transfer the act of sale to social networks.
Moreover, new types of CRM have appeared, which sometimes try to automate the search for information on the networks. But these social networks are less open and interfaceable with external solutions because the market leaders, often in a monopolistic situation, have no interest in dissatisfying their users by giving access to their data.
However, searching and updating manually, using the information on the Internet, remains accessible to any company capable of mobilizing human resources for these long-term tasks. An investment that can quickly pay off.
CRM Software – Beware of Abusive Practices
Let’s assume at this stage that you have opted for an up-to-date CRM, perfectly integrated with your information system, in particular the ERP, and ideally informed and updated. Have you overcome all the obstacles? Not yet.
Because the objective of CRM software is also to conduct sales and marketing actions. However, it is easy at this stage to fall into excess and incur the wrath of your customers and prospects. You must ask yourself this question whenever you are tempted to use your CRM data commercially.
The client/prospect will always appreciate, when he contacts you, to see that he is known and recognized and that you save him the tedious task of answering a lengthy questionnaire (if you have valid and up-to-date data, as we said). But he will appreciate very little that you bother him all the time with actions that he has not requested.