Has your business invested in customer relationship management (CRM) software? Many companies have — in fact, according to research cited by career-resource website Zippia, 91% of businesses with 10 or more employees use it.
Essentially, CRM software enables you to gather, track, manage and analyze customer-related data in a multitude of ways. If you’ve yet to deploy it, now may be the time to consider doing so. And if you’ve had CRM software in place for a while, you might want to investigate whether it’s being adequately used.
To connect with customers and prospects in today’s data-driven environment, companies need more than just names and email addresses. CRM software provides the digital infrastructure for relationship building. It’s designed to give staff — from admin to sales to marketing to management — access to comprehensive information about individuals and businesses with an established connection to your company as well as those of interest to you.
CRM software generally includes categorized lists of customers, prospects and other pertinent parties. But it goes beyond standard contact info to collect biographical data, track interactions and map connections. Employees can use it to prompt, craft and automate communications. For example, the software can be used to contact customers at certain points in the life cycle of a product or for follow-ups to a service — and many products provide templates for doing so.
One of the potential risks of buying CRM software is that the system may wind up being underused. To get an adequate return on investment, it’s essential to get and keep everyone’s buy-in. Many businesses align CRM software usage goals with the company’s strategic planning objectives. For example, if you set an objective of growing revenue associated with a certain product or service by 20%, you could also establish a goal to develop a certain number of relevant prospect or customer profiles in the CRM system.
As you may have already experienced, some employees tend to be skeptical about the value of CRM software while others are enthusiastic supporters. Whether you’re implementing a new system or looking to get more from an existing one, identify and deploy your “CRM champions.” Having them share their success stories is far more convincing than asking someone from marketing or IT to describe how the software can theoretically help the business.
Training is another important factor in successfully implementing and maintaining a CRM system. Before launching the software, or when trying to increase its usage, identify the system’s benefits to your company’s mission and everyday operations. Then, customize ongoing training to the job duties of each type of employee using the software.
For particularly heavy users, such as salespeople and marketing staff, personalized one-on-one training sessions are often helpful. You may want to include an employee’s support staff in such sessions — for example, a salesperson could be joined by a marketing associate and a customer service rep.
To enhance convenience, you could produce (or procure, if available) training webinars for users to view when time allows. Another idea is to hold “lunch and learn” sessions on topics such as how to optimally input descriptions of customer interactions into the software or how to pull certain metrics from the system.
CRM software is indeed widely used. However, like any tech investment, it will likely pay off for your business only if you shop carefully for a system that suits your needs and holds the interest of your employees. Contact AHP for help setting a reasonable budget for the purchase or upgrade of a CRM system, as well as for assistance measuring return on investment.
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