Retrospection: How Customer Relationship Management Changed Over Years

Customer relationship management was known to merchants and vendors for ages. Even during the early days of trade sellers used to offer personalized services to their most profiteering and regular customers. The trend is still alive only with a change in nuance. Earlier, trades were more personal and the buyers and sellers used to know each other in person. But as we progressed, technology came as a barrier in forming direct relationships with customers. For a while organizations relied on email marketing and direct calls to render their services to their clientele.

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Ten Reasons to Love Cloud CRM

Whether you love it or hate it but you can’t surely ignore cloud CRM anymore. They have arrived and they are here to stay (so is the market experts are saying). Cloud CRMs are transforming the modern business world by bringing smarter sales force automation software into the clutches of small and medium businesses. They are loved by many for being so affordable and available. Cloud based CRM store your data in the safekeeping of a multi-tenant virtual space from where it can be accessed from any corner of the world.

Cloud CRM is exciting and here are ten reasons not to ignore them.

  • Small businesses are continuously changing. Their requirements evolve as they grow over time. An on-premise CRM can be inflexible to their changing needs or may demand extensive revamping program. Whereas, cloud CRM offers a scalable environment that expands with the changes in requirements.
  • You no longer need to install the software to the computer when a new member joins in. Adding new users is easy with SaaS CRM solutions and moreover, it does not involve license procurement issues as well. Small businesses, which often operate on shoestring budget, can save on introducing new members by adopting SaaS solution.
  • Often the delivered cloud models are simple to use and adjustable to the level of expertise of the user – ensuring little to no learning curve. The users can start using the product immediately without undergoing extensive training.
  • Cloud based solutions are lite and easily deployable to client’s location. Unlike of on-premise solution that often requires programmers to be placed at your location the deployment process of SaaS CRM is quick and doesn’t affect your productivity.
  • The web based customer management software is offered as software-as-a-solution. Since it requires no hardware installation the deployment process is quick, which particularly suite the small businesses.
  • Cloud solutions are designed to be delivered through internet and therefore are ideal for thin client devices. The CRM solutions can be accessed on smartphones, tablets, laptops or any other device which can be connected through internet. Introduction of cloud has introduced the concept of mobile CRM. It is also regarded as suitable for companies embracing BYOD model of operation.
  • Online solutions are fully customizable, which means the users are free to personalize the UI to best suit their needs. As a result, they can also be converted to meet the particular requirements of a market vertical.
  • Unlike their legacy counterparts, the cloud-based CRM for small business does not require upfront investment. They are available at affordable pay-as-you-use or per-user/ per-month subscriptions. Since most of these applications are provision based the service providers often offer free trials before buying.
  • With SaaS CRMs the responsibilities of maintaining and managing the software lie with the service provider and the charges of these services are included in the monthly subscription. As a result, the users can continue using the software without worrying about updating it. The service provider may also offer technical assistance and compensation during outage.
  • The cloud solutions are no less secured than the on-premise solutions. Since the service provider is often responsible for managing and protecting large volume of client data they employ sophisticated anti-spamming and anti-hacking solutions against miscreants.

Achieving Higher User Adoption Rate for Your CRM

User adoption is critical for the success of your CRM. Most companies are dependent on their sales team for collecting customer data to fill up order forms, offer insight to the marketing department and offering background information to the customer management team. This information can be critical for your business in the long run. You, therefore, ought to make sure that your sales team is comfortable using the software and is inputting correct data in it. But it has often been seen that the sales team isn’t prompt in adopting the changed situation. This can be attributed to the following factors:

  • Lower level of technical skill of the team
  • Busy schedule and the sales team consider it wastage of time to update the CRM
  • Sales representatives have their own ways of doing business and may consider it redundant to update the system
  • They consider sales an individual success and are reluctant to share information with the rest

But, whatever may be the reason a large part of your CRM implementation success depends on the adoption rate of your sales team. Here is how that can be achieved.

Involve the team: Rather than imposing the software on your team you can consider involving them to the task at an early phase of the project. Since they are going to be the main user of the system it is important that they don’t feel left out. You can begin with organizing a brainstorming session and seeking feedback from the senior members of the team. Make sure that you select at least one representative from each of your teams to form the core team of CRM implementation project. This team will work closely with the CRM software provider.

Adopt the simplest solution: A complex system is surely to put off the users from adopting it. Most enterprise legacy solutions require extensive training sessions which can affect your business performance by consuming the productive time of your sales team. Moreover, you also need to keep the technical competence of the team in mind. Sales team often lacks in technical knowhow compared to that of other employees. This situation can be resolved by adopting cloud based CRM system. These hosted CRM services can be accessed over the Internet and often are ready-to-use solutions.

Make it a practice: Exercising little coercion isn’t bad. You can identify some of the key influencers in your team and appoint them to oversee on others to encourage them to use the interface. You may also consider putting a monitoring policy in place during the initial phase to ensure that the data entered is adhering to the standard of data entry, i.e. correct and precise information, no duplicate entries, use of proper abbreviation and salutation.

Show them the benefits: Often system adoption is resisted because users can’t see clear benefits of using it. But since the objective of implementing CRM software is to drive in more business it would be beneficial to introduce your sales team to the benefits of using it. You may emphasize on how they can generate more business through effectively managing their contacts, generating 360⁰ review of a client’s profile, receiving live feed updates on deals and meetings, generating performance and pipeline management reports, and more.

Seek feedback: Once the project is implemented you can measure its success only by seeking feedback from users. So, after few weeks of rolling out the plan ask your team to evaluate its effectiveness. The feedback gathered will help you find out the causes of slow adoption (if any), or if you need to organize training to boost up the adoption rate etc.

Since web based CRM solutions are provision based most vendors offer free trial period that allows the user to test drive the solution to judge its usefulness in their business environment. You can take advantage of this offer before making large investment towards it.

Five ways social CRM help your business

Social Customer Relationship Management is a tool that is being used by small to large businesses all over the world. Social CRM gathers detailed information from a number of different sources, Twitter and Facebook for example, and then enables the organisation to use that information to drive customer engagement.

Here are 5 ways Social CRM can help your business.

1. Get socializing

Social CRM allows companies to connect with their customers on the customer’s terms, using the customer’s preferred channels of communication. In order to get this connection started you need to implement the correct technology to obtain your customer’s social data - you can do this by updating your online forms and website pages to request your customer’s LinkedIn profiles, Twitter and Facebook usernames.

2. Take advantage of social networking

There’s no point using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on if you are not going to fully take advantage of their capabilities. Start using these applications to monitor customer conversations and relevant mentions of your company and products and then utilize this information to improve your business.

3. Make your customers happy

You should encourage your customers to connect with you and with each other to share stories of great customer experiences, answer questions and identify customer problems that your business needs to address. You will start to understand what’s working and what’s not working, where that bad review came from and how to improve your customer experience. You can use your Social Media capabilities to identify your customers and start responding to their questions and concerns and also to produce ideas for new products or offers. 

4. Cut costs and improve customer relations

Social CRM doesn't involve several staff members looking after your Facebook and Twitter page and answering every customer request. Social CRM tools offer you the ability to integrate social media sites with CRM and knowledge management systems without creating costs.

Social CRM tools capture social media conversations that your customers are having and filter out the noise, analyse the meaning and apply your solution to each interaction By doing this you are taking charge of each query – improving customer relations without creating costs.

5. Increase customer loyalty

All businesses know that customers will be loyal to services that they trust. By using Social CRM you can capture the right information from your clients and effectively analyse the outcome for new ideas on sales and marketing techniques. Not only will you be improving your profits but you will understand and deliver what your customers want.

Businesses have to adapt to new changes and it’s now more important than ever to actually listen to your customers. It has never been as easy to connect directly with customers and engage with them in such an in-depth way. Social CRM has proved that it doesn't just deliver financial benefits to companies but also allows them to learn from their customers and change their businesses for the better.

Author

Will Vicary is a digital marketing specialist whose interests include CRM solutions and online customer experience, as well as online lead generation. He is specifically interested in CRM insurance and cloud technology.