6 Ways to Optimize your CRM for Maximum Performance

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions are a powerful form of business management software (BMS) that adds value to almost every business. CRM solutions enable you to track customer information and interactions in one central database that all of your employees have access to. This means that everyone from Customer Service, to Sales, Marketing and Accounting can all refer to one single view to gain accurate and reliable customer insight. The question is – are you using CRM effectively?

Employees waste a huge amount of their time searching for customer data. If set up and utilized correctly, CRM gives businesses access to valuable data, allowing them to both improve customer retention and also save a significant amount of money on labor hours. The problem is that many business haven’t tapped into the full potential of their CRM. The following steps outline 6 ways that some of the most successful businesses optimize their CRM for maximum performance and benefit.*

1. Integrate account data in CRM with data across all enterprise systems.

Integration is key. This is the first key step to preventing fragmented information from being spread across your system and ensuring that all of your data can be aggregated into one single view. The days of being able to depend on one system are long gone, and while you can get away with a single system approach while your business is small, as you grow so will your system requirements and ensuring that everything is integrated as early as possible will fuel your business growth.

2. Enable & encourage employee collaboration to ensure consistency of customer messages.

There’s nothing more frustrating to a customer than receiving conflicting or inconsistent information from your business. Sales tells your customer that they will received a quote within 3 business days, but then customer service tells your customer that lead time is actually 6 business days – how do you think your customer will feel? Frustrated! Encourage employees, particularly across different departments, to communicate so the information customers are being given is consistent. The benefit of CRM is that it can track all of the communications with customers and between employees so there is always a clear record of the situation surrounding a customer and what’s been communicated to them. Ironically communication tracking is one of the functions that is often poorly used and executed in CRM solutions, and yet by far it’s one of the most valuable.

3. Distinguish most profitable customers.

Every team has limited capacity so it’s essential that you distinguish your most profitable customers so when their requests come through they are prioritized accordingly. This doesn’t mean that less profitable customers receive a lower level of customer care, this simply means defining a process so customer requests are always being handled by the appropriate individuals.

4. Predict customer preferences, needs and behavior based on a cross-channel historical view of behavior.

The brilliance of customer relationship management software is that it aggregates all of your customer information into one place. Many businesses make the mistake of letting this data gold mine lay dormant without actually doing anything with it, ignoring the fact that you have the best source of insider information you could imagine right at your fingertips. Analyze customer behavioral data to determine factors that drive activity to your different channels, which contacts at a company are most interactive, how often customers reach out to customer support, the frequency at which customers purchase products and services, and more.

5. Create playbooks to support sales and service employees with guidelines on handling specific interactions.

This ties back in with number two, consistency is key. Your overall customer satisfaction will be much higher if your customers know what to expect, and your processes with run smoother and with less hurdles if there enforced business guidelines. Most CRM’s, particularly those integrated with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, will allow you to add playbooks and processes directly into the solution.

6. Establish KPIs to measure effectiveness of customer engagement activities.

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a value that measures how effectively you’re achieving your business objectives. Defining your KPIs is an essential step for turning customer data into valuable insight. Since your CRM is the central hub for all of your customer communications and data, setting up KPIs will enable you to measure the effectiveness of customer engagement activities and establish areas for improvement. Some examples of KPIs that you could set up in your CRM would be: number of lost opportunities, email click-through rate, email response rate, or number of complaints per month.  Every business is different, so it is important that the KPIs that you define address your unique business challenges and objectives.

Unless you can check off all 6 of the points listed above, that means there are ways your business can improve how it is using CRM. In terms of customer management every bit counts, and small improvements can lead to drastically improved customer retention but also the discovery of way more opportunities. So what do you think – are you using CRM effectively?

*Source: 8 ways to Maximize Performance through CRM by Aberdeen Group