CRM systems no longer just exclusively for rich brands

jim bowesAt a time when customers are more empowered, businesses are under ever increasing pressure to deliver a consistent and seamless customer experience. Having CRM systems in place plays a big part in this, and businesses which don’t recognise the benefits will quickly fall behind.
A recent study showed the impact CRM systems can have on charities, but the data-rich world we live in presents a multitude of opportunities for any organisation, with CRM being a vital tool in gathering essential customer information.
As ever, though, the key for businesses is harbouring this data in the right way and using the insights to their advantage to turn them into actions.
Traditionally, CRM systems have been seen as a place to capture contact information and customer service related data such as age and gender. Whilst these capabilities are undoubtedly valuable, there are now a wide variety of systems with huge scope to capture all kinds of interactions and build profiles that can drive a much more personalised service for customers.
When it comes to deciding which CRM system is right for you there is no need for a huge budget and endless expertise. SMEs and small businesses can make use of a multitude of CRM options that are easy to configure – and some of them are completely free. For example, Hubspot, Zoho and Pipedrive all provide tangible marketing benefits.
But realising the benefits and choosing a CRM system is just the first step. Successful implementation is quite another.
The first step is recognising that installing this technology sometimes means remodelling your business processes but rather than being a daunting process this actually be positive experience as it provides an opportunity to look at existing systems and processes and make sure they follow whichever CRM you choose.
Realising this will help staff do their jobs more effectively. Implementing change can be a challenging time but it’ll be worth it in the end. Spending sufficient time at the outset, analysing what you do, how you do it and whether it could be made more effective is absolutely key.
Ultimately, every business runs a sales process in some form and its top priority is to look after its customers. Prioritising their experience by offering them products and services better tailored to their needs is essential, and CRM systems help do just that.
With the right one, you can not only manage your customers, you can segment them and market to them effectively, optimising their experience and turning this into bottom line sales.

Jim Bowes is chief executive of Manifesto

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