The phrases “the customer is always right” and “the customer is king” have been around for decades. Yet, today, happy and loyal customers remain the lifeblood of most successful businesses.
In our digital era, customer relationship management (CRM) has become a discipline in its own right, and organizations have a multitude of CRM platforms from which to choose.
But we should remember that in our enthusiasm to optimize our levels of customer relationship management, it’s all too easy to become enamored with the benefits of our CRM tools. Leading solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, Siebel, Oracle, and SAP offer a host of advanced features and functions that most organizations are eager to capitalize on. But be wary of putting the cart before the horse: your CRM strategy is equally, if not more, important than your selection of the tool itself.
Thorough and thoughtful organization-wide planning is critical to the success of every CRM implementation. In this article, we’ll step through some best practices for CRM strategy development to ensure you derive maximum return from your investment and that your platform seamlessly integrates with and complements your existing business processes and enterprise platforms.
What is a CRM Strategy?
To build an effective CRM strategy, it’s important to first understand what we mean by this term.
A CRM strategy is a plan that outlines how you’ll manage your customer relationships. This includes how you’ll collect and track customer data, as well as how you’ll use this data to improve your business.
A good CRM strategy will help you better understand your customers and build stronger relationships with them. It will also consider the unique needs of your business and customers to lay out specific goals and objectives.
Why is a CRM Strategy Important?
A CRM strategy can help you to understand your customers better. By tracking all interactions, you can learn about their needs and wants. This information can then be used to improve your products and services. A CRM strategy can also help you build loyalty among your customer base. By using these insights to provide excellent customer service, you can keep your customers coming back for more.
5 Steps to Building a CRM Strategy
Building a CRM strategy can seem daunting, especially if you’re a larger organization with disparate and/or legacy technology within your installed base. Other factors to consider include the size and geographical footprint of your enterprise, your business goals, and the demographics of your customer base.
However, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier and more successful:
1. Set Goals
The first step in creating a strategy is to set CRM goals that are aligned with your sales and marketing efforts. How can your CRM strategy increase sales, build customer loyalty, or improve customer service?
For example, your sales team may want to increase sales by a certain percentage, or your customer service team may want to reduce the number of complaints they receive by a certain percentage. Your marketing goals could be to increase website traffic or improve conversion rates. By setting goals, you paint a clearer picture of what your strategy should aim to accomplish.
2. Identify and Categorize Your Target Customers
Your target customers’ needs must be at the core of your CRM strategy. It’s not uncommon for organizations to have thousands of customers in their systems, so you need to focus and prioritize. It’s important to understand which are the potentially high-value customers you want to communicate with and which are more secondary or lukewarm prospects. Set up discrete databases for your different categories of customers.
3. Consider How You’ll Collect and Analyze Data
It’s important to continually collect data from your customers to understand their needs. There are a few different ways you can collect data, including asking them to fill out surveys or forms. These days, however, your CRM tool will be able to take care of the heavy lifting for you by automatically gathering and processing specific data sets and tracking customers’ interactions with your company. But you’ll still need to decide on the appropriate areas and parameters so that when you put your tool to work, it’s gathering the most relevant and useful insights.
Once you analyze this data, you’ll be able to spot trends and patterns that will help you understand how, where, and why your customers are interacting with your company. You can then use this data to improve your marketing efforts for both new and existing customers.
4. Personalize Your Communications
When building a CRM strategy, it’s important to consider how you’ll personalize your communications. By personalizing your approach, you can build meaningful and enduring relationships with your customers.
So, make sure your CRM strategy allows for the creation of customized content based on customers’ interests and needs. When you send a customer an email that feels like it was written specifically for them, they’re more likely to read and respond to it. A personalized message also shows that you care about your customers as individuals and appreciate their business.
5. Implement Your Solution
Now that you’ve concretized your strategy, it’s time to roll out your solution. As the saying goes, this is where “the rubber hits the road.” A timely and coherent implementation is a vital piece of any successful CRM strategy.
Here are some tips on how to achieve this:
Select the Right CRM Software
Not all CRM software is created equal. When making your selection, it’s important to consider your specific business needs. If you’re a multinational B2B law firm, your needs will likely be quite different from a mid-market B2C entertainment company. Evaluate the features of each CRM software and select the one that best meets your requirements.
Integrate It into All Aspects of Your Business
Your CRM platform needs to interoperate with your other enterprise systems to deliver on its potential. Part of the process of implementing the tool is integrating it into all other aspects of your business, including enterprise platforms such as your SAP, CMS, and your marketing automation system. This level of integration will ensure the CRM platform can gather data from multiple sources and precisely track every interaction you have with your customers – from sales and marketing to customer service. This will help you get a complete picture of your customers and their needs.
Use Your CRM Platform to Drive Your Business Strategy
Implementing your CRM strategy is just the beginning. Great CRM is an ongoing and iterative journey.
Your CRM platform can and should be the engine driving your business strategy. Use the data it gathers to make decisions about where to focus your efforts. For example, if you see that a particular marketing campaign is generating many leads, you can allocate more resources to that campaign. Conversely, if you see that a sales technique isn’t working, you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
As your business grows and evolves, your CRM platform must scale and adapt with you. So, leverage in-built capabilities that take care of managing customer data and automating marketing and sales tasks, all of which will customer service and experience. Use the platform’s analytics and reporting functionality to gain a deeper understanding of your customers and their evolving needs so you can create more targeted marketing campaigns that result in more sales and repeat business.
Additionally, make sure you use your CRM system to monitor your sales pipeline. It will help you spot opportunities that might be missed by the naked eye. Ultimately, your CRM system is more than just a tool; it’s a strategic asset that can help grow your business and ensure its long-term success.
Putting the Pieces Together
If you don’t already have a CRM strategy, now is the time to develop one. When used in conjunction with an innovative, customized CRM solution, your business can start to realize transformative benefits.
If you’re not sure where to start, WayPath’s team of experts can help you create a customized CRM solution that meets your needs. As a trusted partner in CRM planning and implementation, our team of experts is here to help you every step of the way – from planning through to implementation. We can help you provide a unique customer experience across every touchpoint. Contact us today to learn more.