Customer Relationship Management software, or ‘CRM software’, has evolved. It is no longer used to simply manage customer relationships, as the name implies; it’s now used to manage all business relationships including those with your partners, suppliers, vendors and even key members of staff.
Here we explain how CRM software is being used by today’s businesses for ‘relationship management’ rather than ‘customer relationship management’.
Customer relationship management
Now here’s the obvious one: customer management. But did you know that good CRM software provides 360° visibility of each individual customer and their history with your company? And that you can track their journey all the way from initial enquiry to sales opportunity to customer?
Having a complete overview of all your customers is invaluable. Good CRM software doesn’t just give you easy access to customer contact information but all types of customer interaction, including sales history, support correspondence and shipping status. This means that you can build a profile of each of your customers, and better serve them.
CRM software should allow you to manage your sales opportunities by giving your sales team instant access to all the data they need including relevant contacts, meetings records and categories of products and services.
CRM software will also align your marketing and sales functions, allowing you to manage lead generation by tracking from initial lead capture through to sales opportunity, all the way through to customer. By tracking the whole customer journey in this way, you are able to build a full profile and truly personalise your approach.
Many CRM software packages also come with case management / help desk functionality that can assign, manage, route and resolve customer support cases. This allows you deal with support cases more effectively and further improve your customer relationships.
Partner relationship management
Good CRM software provides full control over every element of the partnering process, including joint marketing campaigns, lead management, sales pipeline management, order processing, and commissions and royalties.
Partners can register and track their leads and access accurate, up-to-the-minute partner sales forecasts. Functionality like this will also provide you with full visibility into all of your partners’ leads, orders and sales activities, allowing for better collaboration.
Vendor relationship management
Vendor records within CRM software may allow you to do the following:
- Track addresses for a vendor’s locations and offices
- Track associated items and pricing
- Track financial data and purchasing transactions
- Track CRM information like contacts, notes, messages, and marketing campaigns
- Attach and track files
- Give online access to enable vendors to see your orders
Vendor management functionality may also allow your vendors to do things such as view, search, and print purchase orders you place with them and view order and payment history as needed.
Some CRM software also allows you to manage vendors that are assigned as resources on projects by allowing them to enter time worked on projects.
Supplier relationship management
CRM software – when working on or with an ERP system – will allow you to set up automated email notifications and reports which can be issued to suppliers, for example to keep them up to date with stock replenishment levels.
The “RM” element can also smooth the credit control process by using it to automate payment reminders that match that particular supplier’s agreed terms. Functionality such as this will allow you to automate and improve your relationships with your suppliers.
Staff relationship management
CRM software can also be used to manage all aspects of your relationship with key staff members at your own organisation. This can be personalised for each staff member. For example, you could set up automated emails to send across sales targets, results, tasks, KPI reports, and so on. This all allows for better communication and collaboration across your teams.
How CRM is used today
Today, CRM software is not only being used to better understand who your customers are and provide improved customer service, but also to help sales teams cross-sell and up-sell more effectively, close deals, and retain existing customers.
But taking this a step further, it is being used to improve relationships across the entire business, including with vendors, suppliers, partners and staff.
The impact of technology on CRM
Advances in technology have changed customer buying behavior, and today there are many ways for companies to communicate with customers and collect data about them. Businesses are having to take a multichannel approach that seeks to provide the customer with a seamless experience whether they are shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a bricks and mortar store.
But this extends to more than the customer; technology has changed the way companies are approaching all of their business relationships. Human behaviour is changing with improved technology; we can no longer wait for answers and demand instant information at our fingertips.
This is why cloud CRM is becoming such a popular way of managing business relationships. Real-time data can be accessed remotely, from anywhere with an internet connection – even via smartphone or tablet – which allows for much easier collaboration with your vendors, suppliers, partners and staff.
The benefits of CRM
The biggest benefit most businesses experience when moving to a CRM system comes directly from having all your relationship data stored and accessed from a single location.
Before CRM systems, customer, vendor and supplier data was spread out over spreadsheets, email systems, mobile phone data and even paper note cards. Storing all the data from all departments (e.g., sales, marketing, customer service) in a central location gives management and employees immediate access to the most recent data when they need it.
Departments can collaborate with ease, and CRM systems help organisations to develop efficient automated processes to improve business processes.