CRM solutions can help you get to know your customers better, understand their needs, and respond to those needs to create a valuable customer experience. But without a solid CRM strategy based on clear goals and a particular vision of the customer experience, technologies alone will fail to achieve a customer-centric outcome. As Gartner Research advises, companies evaluating CRM options should “keep in mind that CRM is—and will continue to be—a business strategy that requires the proper alignment of people, business processes and technology to create long-lasting, profitable relationships.” Consequently, before your company even considers assembling lists of requirements or evaluating available solutions, it should take the time and effort to clearly articulate its CRM strategy and goals.
With this understood, how should you embark on defining your CRM strategy?
Companies looking to become customer-centric must develop CRM strategies that make customers—more than products, processes, or even profits—the focal point of their business. Start by looking at how your business can build value through stronger customer relationships and improved customer loyalty. Then define the full arc of the experience you want your customers to have: an experience distinctive, consistent, and positive enough to cement deeper relationships and enhanced loyalty. Above all, it is this experience—from first encounter through post-sales service—that will determine whether your customers buy more, stay longer, or recommend you to others.
In the words of Gartner Research, a customer-centric CRM strategy “aims to effectively manage the customer life cycle from selection and acquisition through retention and cross-sell.” It takes its direction from the company’s business goals and aligns those goals with the company’s customer-facing channels and processes.
To develop a solid CRM strategy, you must understand the market, industry, and customer drivers that influence the selection and use of your company’s products and services. You should also understand your competitive environment and consider how your firm can differentiate itself from competitors through the customer experience. You should carefully consider the impact and requirements of your strategy across different geographies, languages, markets, and channels.
Developing your CRM strategy is one of the most difficult building blocks of CRM success, because it cannot merely be based on a simple set of rules or mirror another company’s strategy. Your CRM strategy must be informed by your company’s goals, customers, conditions, and environment—as such, it must be unique. If you asked ten of our customers to describe their CRM strategies, you would likely get ten different answers, which merely goes to prove that when done right, CRM helps create differentiation across firms, not uniformity.
Though each CRM strategy is unique, there are often similarities in the kinds of goals companies are looking to achieve. Gartner surveyed mid-sized businesses to learn about their CRM goals and objectives. Not surprisingly, top CRM objectives among these firms included a desire to obtain a 360-degree customer view and to automate and manage sales-related processes. Other common goals include:
- reducing cost of service,
- improving collaboration and efficiencies,
- accelerating the sales cycle,
- managing leads more effectively,
- deriving greater insight into sources of value and opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling within the customer base.
Beyond just benefiting customers, a successful CRM strategy must be congruent with an organization’s greater business goals. As Gartner Research notes, “CRM benefits come from using customer insight to deliver relevant, value-added products and services that benefit the organization making the investment as well as the customers affected.” Companies need to define their business needs first to ensure their CRM investment aligns with the people and processes that support their objectives.
Our most successful customers have been those that have taken this principle to heart and taken a strategic approach to CRM. Their experiences show a close correlation between CRM vision and business strategy
Interested in finding out more on CRM? ProAptivity specialise in the deployment of CRM solutions into small and medium size businesses. They are the Northern Ireland solutions partner for Maximizer CRM which offers both on-premise and on demand solutions with full Mobile CRM capabilities. For more information contact 028 90735630