What is customer relations management?
Customer relations management, also known as customer relationship management, client relationship management or CRM, refers to all the tools and methods a business uses to track and manage potential, current and past customers. Effective CRM is based on collecting and analyzing data about how a business interacts with customers, then using that information to create a strategic approach to contacting potential buyers.
CRM systems help business owners keep information organized so that staff has easy access to details about a customer’s purchase history, website interactions, buying frequency, demographic information and more. Good CRM systems collect data from each point of contact at a company, including phone calls, social media, paper inquiries, email, website forms and live chat. Before the internet, companies implemented CRM using physical forms and address books, but modern CRM mostly takes place through free or paid CRM software.
Related: Selecting a CRM for Your Small Business: Key Criteria
Benefits of CRM in business
CRM systems allow businesses to manage all of their business relationships in a convenient central location. They encourage data-driven business strategy and provide concrete metrics to uncover trends in how people interact with your business. Using CRM software is becoming an industry standard among both large corporations and small businesses due to its many benefits as a solution to form strong business relationships.
As small businesses grow, CRM software becomes essential to processing large amounts of customer data and understanding how to capture a growing customer base. Using CRM software when your business is in the startup phase gives your company room to increase its customer base and keep up with larger and more complex data sets.
CRM software allows you to be proactive about tailoring your business practices to the unique buying behaviors of your customers. It simplifies the process of documenting customer information, so you can reach out to potential leads based on how they have interacted with your business in the past. Having continuity between customer interactions is key in developing meaningful and profitable customer relationships and building a brand.
Automating the process of collecting, categorizing and analyzing customer information saves businesses a significant amount of time on administrative work and recordkeeping. CRM software improves communication and collaboration among team members, eliminating confusion on who is working with each customer. Online CRM solutions allow employees to easily access essential information from almost any location. Increased efficiency saves your business money and allows sales reps to focus on the most lucrative opportunities and leads.
Good CRM software gives business owners control over which employees can access certain types of customer data and sales reports. Businesses are responsible for protecting customer data and responding to possible breaches. CRM software with security tools makes it easy to know who has access to customer information at any given time, allowing customers to feel confident giving your company their personal details.
Top elements of CRM systems
Depending on the system or software you choose, CRM can be made up of a range of tools and strategies. CRM systems manage the different ways a business can connect with customers, including:
Because advertising and marketing is a significant point of contact with the public that can impact sales, good CRM software automates and tracks your marketing efforts. It can send out advertising materials through email and other channels automatically when a potential lead is entered into the system and follow up with past customers on a schedule.
CRM web tools like AI chat and pre-recorded audio can simplify customer service and assist clients with troubleshooting without having to take up your staff’s time. CRM tools prioritize and sort customer inquiries, directing each person to the proper channel. They help cut down on response time, giving customers faster service and providing automatic guidance so customers can solve common problems themselves.
Some CRM tools automatically assign sales leads to individuals on your sales team, streamlining tasks and clearly outlining the next steps for working with each contact. Automated follow-up messages are a popular CRM tool to help salespeople recapture the attention of potential customers.
Lead management is the process of identifying prospective business relationships, collecting their contact information and strategically following up with them. It allows salespeople to reliably capture updated client data and use that information to connect with customers more effectively through their preferred channels. CRMs help salespeople identify who is interested in buying and which former customers are likely to make a repeat purchase.
CRM keeps a database of your company’s sales history so you can easily cross-reference customer information with sales trends. This helps salespeople analyze the behavior of current customers to forecast purchases and determine the ideal timing to make contact with leads. Sales databases also drive analysis to determine how customers make purchases and what products and services are most in-demand.
Customer profiles are made up of their contact information across platforms, including their location, email, social media and other details. They also include customer complaints, returns and support interactions. CRM systems consolidate this information to help employees achieve a holistic ideal of their target customer, what pain points they experience and how they interact with your brand.
Some CRM software can track how individual visitors spend time on your website. They track how many people add products to a shopping cart and how many follow through on a purchase, helping you identify possible barriers to making a purchase such as a confusing user interface. CRM tools that integrate with your website give you an idea of which pages are the most popular and what types of website content is most effective at driving sales.
The visual dashboard of CRM software is a place that collects snapshots of each aspect of customer management. Some CRM software can make graphs and charts out of your data to display on the visual dashboard, allowing your team to identify and analyze trends at a glance.