The term Customer Relationship Management has been around for some time, long before it’s now shortened SaaS version CRM. In the 1970s companies understood that they needed to be closer to their clients so that they can better understand their needs and foster long-lasting relationships.
So what is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) really? The best way to answer that question is to be real it down in three simple forms a) The Customer b) The Relationship and c) The Management. Let’s take a look at each one in its own form.
Every business has its own set of customers they provide services to. These customers vary between industry or sector. This is where the terminology business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) take effect.
The important thing here is knowing exactly which type of customer you serve based on your industry. For example, Massy Stores predominantly services the average consumer so they will fall into the B2C category. While Magic Mist, on the other hand, provides janitorial/facilities management services to companies so they fall into the B2B category.
There are instances, however, where based on the services provided companies have overlaps in both B2B and B2C sectors. Ansa Motors is a good example as they provide sales and after-sales services to both B2B and B2C.
The key to this part of CRM is understanding what you sell, who are your customers (best fit), where they are, what’s important to them, etc. This helps keep the company's sales, marketing and service team focused on the right things that bring value to those customers.
Regardless of what you sell from the small shop on the street corner to the major conglomerate. Healthy/good customer relationships are vital to long term success and growth. However, good relationships are built on a few key things.
The main component of any good business relationship is value. Service providers that live by their value proposition and consistently deliver on improving their customer's situation would normally be the ones that come out on top. The ability to bring value to any relationship stems from the seller being in a service-based mindset and not just a task-based mindset.
You must also be in consistent communication with their customer base. What you communicate must also be of value to your customer's day-to-day lifestyle. Generic bits of information, pics, quotes, etc. just show presence and over time, customers because of their access to information and level of intelligence will start tuning you out. Customers become attached to providers that add value and are willing to share that message with their friends, family, co-workers, etc. because there is a benefit in what you offer.
Trust is the real currency - Lyndon Brathwaite
Value and consistent communication then build what can be considered the main catalyst for business growth which is called trust. Once customers trust you and agree with your company's morals, values, etc. they will be willing to get into a long term relationship with your organisation which is where customer lifetime value comes in. However, companies struggle with maintaining those relationships because it's not initially part of their overall strategy.
Companies have challenges here the most. In Trinidad and Tobago customer relationship management is not an integral part of most companies long term strategy and it shows by their approach to business and interaction with their customers both pre and post-sale. Within the last year, customer service representatives titles are now being changed to customer success professional. This all sounds good, but it is not real practice.
A proper CRM approach looks at monitoring and measuring the full customer journey from when he/she first identified you as a potential service provider to when they actually make a decision to accept or decline your services. This means that CRM cannot just be for one department like service or sales but across the company including marketing.
Now while some companies have been able to develop surveys, customer feedback forms, competitive review, etc. to have a better understanding of their customer. These approaches are very labour intensive and the approach is archaic.
Companies must start adopting the use of proper dedicated CRM technology to help them improve assess their business for gaps and improve their processes for the future. Ten years ago people/employees mainly drove a process with the use of technology which gave them the data needed to make the next move. However, in 2019 that same data has been used to develop technology to drive a process which is now supported by people.
CRM technology now has the ability to bring all aspects of the business together making that organisation much more intelligent, effective and efficient. However, the company must adopt a philosophical approach when implementing a CRM and not just think that technology will change their business overnight. Yes, it will add value but at the end of the day it all comes down to the company's philosophical approach to the customer.