Establishing intense personal relationships with customers should be a top priority for all small (but budding) businesses. Almost every small enterprise counts on word of mouth and customer referrals as the main lead generating tool and to achieve the pertinent level of customer satisfaction, you have to treat them like they REALLY matter. As the client base starts to grow however, maintaining said relationships manually becomes harder; this is where a CRM (customer relationship management) system comes into play. A CRM solution allows owners of small enterprises to confront operational hiccups (like high client attenuation, sales decline and corporate revenue target misalignment etc.) head-on.
If you are a small business owner, then there are a multitude of reasons why you should be investing in a customer management software; following are some of the most worth-mentioning ones:
1. Making the shift from Excel (free) to a CRM (paid) is viable
Excel sheets are good if you have only a few columns (name, contact information and some designations) against each customer but as soon as your business becomes even slightly more robust, keeping more relevant details about every customer becomes a necessity. With a CRM, you no longer have to relentlessly search through the spreadsheet using the “Find” option because it acts as a central hub of easily accessible information.
Additionally, keeping a spreadsheet up to date is a real steep mountain to climb as there is always a pile of spreadsheets ready to be micromanaged. With a customer management software, you no longer have to worry about updating precious customer information manually and you never end up saying, “Oh, I wish I were able to apply a collective action to a group of contacts” among so many other things. Down the line, you will look back at your CRM-purchasing decision with a smile on your face as according to Baseline, the average CRM system return-on-investment is 5.60 dollars (for every spent dollar).
2. Ease of access
Almost all of the customer relationship management software come with the inherent ability to run across different devices. Any field representative can have access to important customer information anywhere they want. This improves sales efficiency and gives revenue boosts in the long run; Trackvia.Com claims that a CRM system can improve revenue by a fat 41 percent per sales-person.
3. Achieve standardisation
According to Forbes, the CRM market is expected to expand to about 36.5 billion dollars worldwide by 2017, and this puts it at the top of the list containing projected growths of all enterprise software categories. The main reason why companies are making the switch is because as they expand and transform, organisational knowledge might get overlooked if standardised information isn’t captured using a single system. For instance, if there is a sales team expansion or if you have to swap accounts between different employees for some reason, how will they transfer knowledge among themselves? Or if a supervisor wants to know his team’s performance (say at both, personal and group levels), how will they be able to get their hands on data instantly? A CRM’s ability to consistently capture and store information comes in very handy in this regard. Whenever a customer is called or a marketing email (or a survey) is sent or a customer request is received, the interaction takes place in a standardised template, which makes it easy for anybody to access (and make sense of) the interaction at a later time.
4. Add a layer of security
The database of customers is arguably your business’ biggest asset. In the world of today where criminal sophistication is increasing rapidly, you need to protect this asset as rigorously as possible. Most of the CRMs ensure the security of sensitive customer data by:
- Centralising data in a single database and using state-of-the-art encryption techniques to ensure maximum protection.
- Periodically create data back-ups.
- Using security controls and multi-level authentication methodologies to ensure that only authorised personnel can access information.
According to RingLead.com, around 67 percent of customer management software users work in small businesses that have 100 (or fewer) employees. This stat on its own shows how pivotal a component a CRM is for an enterprise in today’s technological world.
5. Seamless data analysis
A customer management software for small businesses can be a real game changer as its data analysis prowess is always very handy. Data from a CRM can be used to view contemporary trends and eventually formulate sound enterprise strategies. From making astute mailing lists to releasing targeted discount offers, a CRM can help a strategist do it all. This eventually leads to improved customer retention as is highlighted by Trackvia.com, who claim that CRM systems increase customer retention by a whopping 27 percent.
6. Increase customer satisfaction
Nothing makes a customer happier than knowing that their money bought them more than just a product or a service. It goes without saying that a CRM solution lets a small business make its customers happier. According to American Express’ Global Customer Service Barometer (2012), 3 out of 4 consumers claim that they spent more money on a company’s products/services because of a better customer experience. This goes to show how a CRM can improve customer service by establishing an astute brand loyalty and increasing each customer’s value.
With a CRM, a company can deliver high quality services to all the customers efficiently and without having to spend days filtering out data. Any help desk representative can access customer information and their order histories within seconds and answer questions or remove any doubts instantly; the readiness and effectiveness of service goes a long way in satisfying and retaining customers. Read how a leading vending machine company has increaded their retention rates with the help of a CRM solution
7. Email marketing made simpler
According to MarketingCharts.com, 60 percent of all small businesses are contemporarily using CRM systems for email marketing to stay in touch with their customers. Some CRM solutions provide efficient email marketing features that can streamline the process of email marketing. The integrated email marketing suites contain templates, personalisation and automation support that can come in very handy while sending out emails. They also provide businesses with the ability to send bulk emails to selective customer groups and to track sent emails. This not only makes the emailing process simpler and faster, it also makes it more effective. Learn more about Act!’s intergated email marketing solution Act! emarketing.
8. Integration with other software
Most of the modern CRM systems support integrations with many other applications like project management, accounting and data processing software suites. This is very important as it allows different functions of a business to be closely matched based on customer information. For instance, ERP and CRM systems present in a company can often be seamlessly merged into one; or merging your CRM with an accounting software (like Sage 50 Accounts etc.) can also be a great choice.
9. Be able to make sound business predictions
Hand over a sophisticated CRM system to a business intelligence expert and you will know (to a certain degree of certainty) the direction in which your business should be headed. Historic customer data can be analszed along with customer behavior and feedback to emulate the expectations of the customer and gain competitive advantage.
Making intelligent decisions based on proceedings of the past can increase the overall prosperity of a company by many folds. Knowing how customers reacted to a specific product or service can allow strategists to formulate effective future strategies.
For instance, if a specific demographic reacted poorly to an expensive product and if there were a lot of returns associated with the specific product, it can be concluded that most of the people didn’t find the product a bang for their buck. This can lead to the company dropping the product’s price or changing the target market or completely discontinuing the product.
10. Open a whole another world of possibilities
When you (and your salespersons) get their hands on a CRM solution, the possibilities are endless. A business can prosper at great speeds when CRM provides them with the ability to:
- build better client relationships
- increase the collaboration within your team members
- improve your ability to cross sell
- enhance client-serving efficiency
Having features like highly user-friendly reports and dashboards, sales analytics charts and visualisations and sales force automation among many others available at your disposal, the only thing holding you back (from generating exciting marketing strategies) is your imagination.
Having a customer relationship management software is slowly becoming an outright necessity instead of being a luxury, in the world of today. In order to be able to accurately capture customer interests to device company policies and eventually increase revenues, having a CRM solution is of paramount importance for small businesses. Because of the fact that exciting returns on investment can be expected, purchasing a CRM system can be seen as a win-win.