CRM, or Customer Relationship Management is very much at the core of every company's operations; the company's CRM is the system that captures all the data and information needed by the company to sustain an efficient and profitable on-going business operation.
A comprehensive CRM may require collection and access to information and data anywhere within, or sometimes even sources external to, the company in order to provide up-to-date real-time customer information at the employees' finger tips when they are interacting with or dealing with the customers' enquiries and requests.
This allows the company employees - everybody from the back office marketing team to the front line sales staff, to use the real time data available in CRM for the purposes of formulating marketing plans and strategies for ongoing and future sales and marketing efforts, as well as servicing of existing customer base, which ultimately leads towards building a strong loyal customer base in the long term.
More than just an IT software, CRM is evolved more from a business philosophy that the customer is the main reason for the company's very existence – a philosophy that should be embraced by everyone in the organisation, starting from the Chief Executives to the front line Customer Service staff who deals with the customers on a daily basis.
A successful CRM must take into account 3 key elements:
- the users in the company who are using and accessing the CRM for daily operations and customer servicing purposes;
- the type of technological tool or software that is user-friendly, and most efficient and effective in allowing for a customer focused operations;
- how the CRM can be used effectively to improve company processes in order to serve customers needs and future requirements in a timely manner.
The ultimate objective of a good CRM is to work towards building a loyal and solid customer base by addressing all their concerns in terms of marketing processes, extrapolating from collected data on past customer behaviour in order to project for future trends. CRM is also useful from a sales point of view, by looking into opportunities to upsell and / or cross-sell based on an up-to-date customer database that allows for targeted sales efforts that will yield more measurable results in the specified campaign period.
However, depending on the size and setup of the company, a truly effective CRM has to be custom built to address all the company’s needs in terms of sales and customer servicing, taking into account present versus future customer needs. The company would have to look objectively into how the current processes is servicing its needs in order to improve on it, and decide on what specific customer information is needed to set up a complete and effective CRM.
Smaller firms may take the route of paying monthly rentals for web-based CRMs, but typically larger firms would find it more beneficial in the long term to invest in a custom built CRM that will cover all the intricate details that needs to be taken into account to support a full-fledged business operations that encompasses everything from marketing and sales, as well as customer servicing.
To custom build a comprehensive CRM that is tailored to meet the specific needs of each business could take months and sometimes, even years to develop and improve on, in order to adapt to changing needs and business environment.