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CRM (customer relationship management) has evolved to encompass more than the traditional customer. In fact, this discipline should be seen as ‘contact relationship management’ rather than ‘customer relationship management’, and critical in any industry where relationships with customers, employees, suppliers and industry partners must be managed effectively.
It’s time organisations took a fresh look at the potential for advanced and efficient CRM systems, particularly when integrated with ERP, to improve their business relationships across the board.
Here’s five ways how businesses can benefit from an efficient CRM system:
Support for growth
As soon as a small business passes the three employee mark, it starts facing the risk that it will lose track of customer engagement histories, partner relationships and even revenue due. Implementing an effective CRM system early in a business’s growth allows it to manage contacts, documents, tasks, customer dashboards, scheduling, workflow and more; in such a way that all relevant data can be built on to deliver a full repository of company IP in years to come.
Keeping IP in-house
With an effective CRM system in place, sales leads, customer contact details and sales records are shared within the business, rather than residing with individual sales people. CRM puts customer and sales information and tasks back into the hands of the business in an automated, ‘in your face’ way, facilitating better service delivery, sales and reporting.
Connecting a mobile workforce
CRM serves as an important sales and organizational tool, which is especially important when coordinating the activities of a dispersed or mobile workforce. Through an efficient CRM system, management and employees can share information such as calendar activities, who is meeting who when, and trigger automated alerts when a key stage of a process has been reached.
CRM can come into play in departments across the business, from operations to accounts. In the finance department, for example, the CRM system can be used to follow-up on invoices and account payments, to note what the commitment was, record what was said during the conversation, and set an alert for when the next call should be made.
CRM tools can also help the enterprise build more personal relationships with contacts. For example, should a contact mention holiday plans during a business call with a sales representative, a note can be made on the CRM system, reminding the sales rep to ask the client how their holiday was during his next call. These personal touches go a long way toward improving relationships with clients and business partners.
In South Africa, companies tend to perceive CRM as a tool for very limited industry use. Even companies that have CRM solutions in place often need educating on the potential to use the features across the enterprise. Given CRM’s ability to support contact management across the organisation, it’s an enterprise tool no company should be without. And thanks to new subscription models, even the smallest business can benefit from these enterprise tools.
Feature image: rachaelvoorhees via Flickr