Friday, July 06, 2012
As most businesses now realize, customer relationship management (CRM) is an incredibly powerful tool with the potential to drastically improve a company's operations. CRM can reveal significant insights into the nature of a business' customer base and how to best serve these individuals.
To achieve these ends, the organization must have specific goals. Writing for Bizcommunity.com, Carmia Lureman recently argued that businesses should identify both who its ideal customers are and what its ideal customer relationships should look like.
Despite many businesses' claims, not every customer is of equal value. Some are significantly more important to companies than others. According to Lureman, organizations need to acknowledge these discrepancies and take steps to determine their various customers' value, and CRM tools, along with data analytics, can significantly improve companies' ability to make these determinations.
By doing so, organizations can optimize their various reward offers and other methods for gaining customer loyalty.
In addition to identifying who its most valuable customers are, an organization should also strive to determine the best client relationships possible. Simply aiming to improve relationships with customers is too vague to be truly beneficial. Instead, the organization must determine what this ideal relationship would look like.
This may vary significantly from company to company and industry to industry, depending on business models. For example, a company that relies predominantly on repeat customers will have a very different idea of an ideal customer relationship than one that sells major products, like an car dealer. Additionally, a subscription-dependent company will exist on very different terms with its customers.
These varying models will affect how a company wants to interact with its customers. To maximize its use of CRM, the organization must determine its ideal mode of engagement. Social media? Email? Telephone? The way the company deploys its CRM tools will depend upon the answer to that question.
All of the CRM planning in the world will have no effect if it is not accompanied by action. Mariann McDonagh, chief marketing officer for a cloud software provider, recently explained in an interview with IDG that one of the critical aspects of CRM deployment is the customer's perspective. Companies often make the mistake of thinking about CRM solely in terms of how it can improve their capabilities and profits. However, she argued that the true value of a CRM system is its ability to improve the customer experience.