CRM For Customer Service

We have already discussed how Marketing and Sales can benefit from using CRM. In this article we will look at the impact on Customer Service in a business.

Customer Service:

There is an old adage in Customer Service; ‘look after your customers or someone else will’. This has never been truer. It is so easy for customers to change suppliers now; even selling something cheaper isn’t going to retain customers if the service stinks.
Even online retailers, some of whom are the cheapest still try to provide good service, especially in terms of replacing something that is faulty quickly and simply so the customer feels little risk is involved in the transaction. This is enhanced by allowing the customers to comment on products and services and allowing prospective customers to read these ‘reviews’.
This embodies the new age of honesty and transparency when dealing with customers or prospects. If you don’t the new freedoms available via Social Networking will quickly expose you and you may not even be aware of it. More on that subject in a later posting.

So what is Customer Service?

Well this can come in a number of guises but basically it is how the prospect/customer is dealt with when they have a query or issue with a product or service they have or are looking to purchase. One of the aims of customer service, apart from any statutory duties is to keep existing customers and entice new ones.
There is a plethora of statistics on the benefits of retaining customers over getting new ones and we will cover this in more detail in a later posting. The norm is to assume that it can cost five times more to get a new customer as opposed to selling to an existing one. So that alone should be enough to convince you about having a retention strategy. If it doesn’t, watch this space for a more in-depth discussion on the subject.

So what can we do to help retain or gain customers? Here are some ideas:

  • Allow the customer to reach you via the channel of their choice

  • Respond quickly to an enquiry or issue

  • Keep the customer in the loop about the progress of their enquiry/issue

  • Be frank and honest with them and manage their expectations

  • If there has been a problem don’t just fix it, provide a 110% solution

Multi-channel Access

Sounds technical doesn’t it? All it means is allowing the customer to contact you by their method of choice. Allow them access via the web, email, text, phone, fax, letter, etc. and be prepared to respond accordingly. The technology to enable this is readily available and relatively cheap. This will allow all enquiries to be logged in one system, regardless of channel and an appropriate response actioned.

Quick Response

Other than the telephone which people expect an immediate response from (provided a human answers the phone [this is highly recommended by the way]) most of the other channels can have an automated response system setup which will reply to the individual using the information supplied, acknowledging receipt of the information.

Keeping them in the loop

Your systems should enable you to setup automation (or at least reminders) to send out updates to the customer (using the appropriate channel) as you progress an issue/enquiry, ideally pre-empting customer enquiries on the subject.

Managing Expectations

This is really important. You might know how difficult it is going to be to resolve something but there’s a really good chance that the customer won’t. So even though you may have pulled off a minor miracle to get something sorted the customer may appear ungrateful simply because their expectations have not been managed properly. It is very tempting, especially if someone is bellowing over the phone at you, to underestimate the time required to rectify the situation, or worse still promise a solution that isn’t in fact possible. This is easily done under stressful situations. It is much better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around. If you fix something quicker or in a better way than promised, how good does that make you look? This is why it pays to be frank and honest; you will be more respected for it in the end.

Fixing Plus

This is really tied in with the previous paragraph in that if there has been a problem, especially if it was avoidable in the first place. Don’t just fix it make amends as well. Again it is a known fact that people tell other people about bad experiences but by resolving it in a positive way you can get them telling everyone what a great experience they had despite the problems!

Summary

All of the above are a part of CRM. Customer Relationship Management is about culture and attitude as much as technology so it is really important to ensure that your processes work well before attempting to automate them. The technology is really about enabling multi-channel communication, automating responses, reminding staff to carry out an action and escalating an issue if it isn’t being resolved within a given time scale. Therefore it should allow your customer service staff to spend more time dealing with issues and giving the customers a quality experience rather than dealing with the minutiae. An additional benefit is that reporting on KPIs becomes so much easier as the data is being collected by the system as a matter of course.

Selling With CRM

Welcome to this discussion on what CRM can do for a business.

Today we will look at how CRM can impact the sales process. As we saw on the last posting, the job of marketing was to get the prospect interested enough to respond in some way. The salesman’s job is then to ensure that he makes timely and regular contact with the prospect, gathering his requirements on the way before making his ‘pitch’.
This may be a simple or a complex process depending on the type of product/service that is being sold. The principle aim of CRM is to ensure that the prospect is contacted within a set time and given the appropriate information. There is a saying that ‘…you don’t have to force the prospect to buy, simply make it as easy as possible for him to do so’.


Typical sales process

Initial Contact

The prospect may contact a company in a number of ways, including;

  • Phone

  • E-mail

  • Fax

  • Website

and the salesman needs to be able to record the enquiry and respond to it. Here is where CRM starts to help the sales team. By making it easy to log an enquiry with all of the details to hand (more can be added later as the relationship progresses) and allowing subsequent actions to be scheduled against that enquiry the system ensures that none of the enquiries falls off the salesman’s radar. This process is made easier where the prospect has been marketed to as the relevant contact details will already be held in the system. This enquiry is often known as a Sales Opportunity or Opportunity for short.

Tracking Sales

Having started the sales process by entering the enquiry the CRM system should encourage the salesman to follow a proven methodology. This is often managed by using ‘workflow’ to move an opportunity from one sales stage to the next. Not only does this ensure that the correct process is followed but can also provide a ‘shortcut’ for the salesman by filling in relevant fields for him. He can then see immediately what is in his ‘pipeline’ and which opportunities are nearing fruition by the stage that they are at. The added advantage of this is that the Sales Manager/Director can also see this information thereby negating the need for sales team downtime while they compile their regular reports.

Communications

The CRM system should also provide the means to produce and send template emails, letters, faxes or text messages as appropriate. The use of template material ensures consistency of the message and quality of the material being sent, including personalising every message. An added advantage of having the system produce communications is that it will also record them. Provided the sales team can be encouraged to log their calls to the customer (some systems that are integrated with the phone system can record calls and store these against the appropriate record also) then there will be a record of all communication with a prospect/customer.

Quote Production

As well as being used to gather information and track potential sales a CRM system can often be used to produce quotations for the prospect. Again this has the advantage of using information already in the system to generate the quote and could include product and pricing information which will also feed back into the pipeline and reports. Like other communications this would also be recorded against the opportunity. Producing quotes in this manner can;

and so can save time and effort and lead to a greater conversion rate.

Reporting

Another important aspect of sales both for the manager/director and the business as a whole is reporting on the sales pipeline and forecasting the likely income over the upcoming periods. Generally this can be quite time consuming either for the salesman compiling the information and/or the manager who has to collate it and send it on up the chain. With the current systems available it is normal to be able to view ‘live’ data or produce historical reports. The fact that the system can be set the task of compiling the correct information as and when needed should save time for everybody in the sales team.

Summary

CRM has a big impact on the sales department, not surprising considering that the roots of CRM lie in contact management and sales automation tools. A not insignificant part of this is in reducing the time a salesman spends at his desk (planning his week, creating quotes, compiling reports) so allowing him to spend more time interacting with the prospects (which is really what he is being paid for). It also has an impact on sales management, allowing the manager to spend less time collating reports and more time using the readily available information as a diagnostic tool both for the salesmen under them and the sales process itself.

We shall be looking in more detail at some of the aspects covered here in a later part of the series.

CRM Online Client Doubles Turnover Thanks to Our Business Solutions

One of CRM Online’s clients is working even smarter and has doubled its turnover after installing our powerful new technology tools designed to help with Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

Virtus Consult, a leading UK based boutique construction and management consultancy firm offering tailored solutions to clients investing in construction, property and infrastructure, identified that they needed to increase their investment in CRM tools and strategies to manage their growth and give their clients exceptional support and service.

They sought help initially to develop a stronger sales strategy from our experts at CRM Online, who offer down-to-earth business advice and technology solutions to companies looking for fast and profitable growth. Now Virtus Consult is being even more effective at identifying, winning and retaining profitable clients.

‘We realised that to remain competitive and grow we needed to attract more clients to take advantage of our independent and objective advice service,’ said Jan Ponsford, Virtus Consult Director.

Logo_Virtus

CRM Online offers a unique mix of technology and business consultancy to growing businesses. We implement and deliver practical, affordable and powerful business solutions that will help businesses grow, work smarter and remain profitable and competitive when times are challenging.

Peter Sidhu, Managing Director of CRM Online said: ‘We quickly recognised that Virtus Consult needed an efficient and simple to use CRM solution to help them improve their productivity and allow their sales executives to spend more time in-front of clients and prospects nurturing stronger client relationships and more business.

‘We incorporated Virtus Consult’s unique vision into their software selection and processes and offered them a low cost low risk CRM option that allowed them to start using CRM quickly.’

CRM allows everyone within a company to work off a single prospect and client database, so that everyone can work more effectively as a team to win more business and make it easier for clients to do business with you.

The application was hosted in a secure datacentre externally and all that was required was a good broadband Internet access to use the application from anywhere and anytime.

Jan added: ‘We strive to exceed our client’s expectations and believe that successful client relationships are driven by mutual respect. CRM Online has done an excellent job integrating CRM into our processes, helping us to maintain and improve upon our high standards.’

Virtus Consult is among many major companies and organisations across the world in areas such as Banking, Wealth and Brokerage Management, Manufacturing, Property Services, IT Consulting & Support, Telecommunications, and charities that use our award-winning CRM solutions.

Great Start to 2014 for CRM Online

We are delighted to announce that the year has got off to a successful start with CRM Online ranked as one of the top 3 SageCRM suppliers in Q1 Business Partner League Tables – a national sales league table.

‘This great news is evidence of our expertise developed over the last 20 years as CRM specialists,’ said CRM Online’s Managing Director Peter Sidhu. ‘It also shows our passion for trying to ensure that our clients get the appropriate solution to meet their unique requirements is proving popular with businesses across the country.’

CRM Online focus on having a unique blend of being business consultants and technical experts. Our key strengths are also being specialists in CRM and Business Intelligence and systems integration.

Sage CRM is an award-winning, web-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution with customers in over 70 countries worldwide. It provides all you need in the form of a full-suite CRM solution comprising sales, marketing and customer service automation.

Thousands of customers across the globe use Sage CRM every day to manage and maximize the performance of their business and in particular their sales, marketing and customer service activities.

‘We ensure our clients get the support and results they need with a focus on integrating sales, marketing, support and finance operations,’ added Mr Sidhu.

What makes Sage different is its focus on small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) – with over 6.2 million SMB customers worldwide, we understand what SMBs need to be successful.
We have worked with businesses in Manufacturing, Financial Services (Banks, Brokers, Private Wealth Management), Charities, Education, Property Management and Business Services.
Sage CRM offers:

  • Ease of use

  • Fast, flexible deployment

  • Ease of customisation

  • Business integration

Our other specialities are: Client Relationship Management (CRM) Solutions, CRM Requirements & Strategy Planning, CRM implementation & training, CRM Support, Integration, GoldMine, ACT!, Sage CRM, Microsoft Dynamics, BPM Online, Sales Management and Sales Force Automation.

Here at CRM Online we offer CRM trials. Just give us a call and one of our experts will discuss with you the best ways of transforming your business to be the best it can be!

Marketing with CRM

Welcome to this discussion on what CRM can do for a business.

Today we will look at some of the ways CRM can impact marketing in a business.
Marketing is the process by which companies create customer interest in goods or services. Marketing can also be used to keep customers and generate new interests within an existing customer base.

Methods

Marketing can use various methods of getting a message across including;

  • Advertising

  • Direct Mail

  • E-mail

  • Brochures

  • Web Presence

  • Call Centres

amongst others. Some of these methods require the material/information to be targeted to specific people. This is one of the areas where a contact database can help.

Targeting

Ideally marketing information will be aimed specifically at the people who are most likely to be interested in the particular product or service being marketed. This could be broken down by demographic, geographical area, type of business, etc. Using information held in a contact database it is possible to filter out the people who are the best match for the required criteria and send a specifically worded message direct to them. This is much more likely to produce results than taking a ‘shotgun’ approach to who receives the message.

Tracking

Any decent CRM system will allow marketing campaigns to be tracked, including relevant communication with the recipients. This makes it easy to know who has responded and who hasn’t and which campaign or part thereof triggered the response. It should also be possible to link these responses to any subsequent sales that are achieved as a result of this.

Measurement

Using the information captured above and any other information supplied by the system (e.g. campaign costs, how much activity took place to make the sale, etc.) it should be possible to measure both the sales funnel (i.e. the probability of making a sale at any stage in the sales process) and the overall cost of sale, taking into account both the campaign costs and the amount of activity per sale.

Which is probably a whole lot more information than is available now.

Feedback

All of this information can be fed back into the CRM system to improve the reliability of the measurements coming from it and the business to help develop the overall marketing and pricing strategy.
Profiling

Another kind of feedback is what the customer really wants from you. Ostensibly your customer is after a widget or a service which gives them value for money. Deeper investigation could prove that what the customer really wants is somewhat different. Finding out what the customer really wants is crucial to a CRM strategy. A business that can understand the customer’s requirements and fulfil them in a way that not only gives value for money but takes things a step further in resolving an issue or taking a burden from the customer will have a substantial advantage in the marketplace.

Summary

As can be seen CRM can have a significant impact on marketing, but this is only one aspect of a business. We will also show how CRM can impact other areas of the business equally significantly.

What is CRM? – Intro

Welcome to this discussion on what CRM can do for a business.

We start with the basic question, ‘What is CRM?’

There are any number of definitions out there, we tend to think of it as how to Identify, Acquire and Retain Profitable Customers.

Whatever the definition, and it may depend on the type of business and/or the type of customers, it will almost certainly involve collecting and sharing information on the customers.

So it will involve a database but the next question is likely to be ‘What else do we want it to do for us?’

The key areas normally associated with CRM are Marketing, Sales and Customer Care but we find that all parts of the business can and often, should be affected by CRM.

CRM is all about improving the customer experience and to this end everyone in the business needs to be putting the customer first. Let’s face it, there won’t be a business without them.

So we see CRM as much as a business culture as a set of systems and it only really works if it incorporates both.

So, in summary CRM can be thought of as a culture of putting the customer first, utilising systems and technology to aid the staff in managing this.

Next…

In this series we are going to look at many aspects of CRM and how they can impact the various parts of a business, the next part will look at Marketing.