2017 was the year of the CRM. Nearly every industry adopted robust CRM software at a faster and more frequent rate than ever before. In 2018, this trend will continue and expand at an exponential rate. The shift to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) options and advancements in both AI and automation continue to ease entry for businesses at every level.
Robust CRM software is no longer just an option for major enterprises. Instead, you can now jump in and enjoy the benefits of CRM from wherever you are. No breaking the bank needed!
Robust CRM Benefits
The gig economy, social media, new communication channels, network expansion – all of these make managing customer relationships more difficult and complex. Using email and spreadsheets just isn’t enough anymore; it’s far too easy to lose track and sight of your goals.
In 2018, CRMs are improving even more – and robust CRMs solve customer relationship and business pain points more easily and affordably than ever before. If you’re feeling curious, you can assuage that feeling with our brief outline of the most useful benefits.
Improved Access to Clean Data
In business, data is the cornerstone of effective and positive results. Having access to data about your business, your customers, your sales, and your interactions allows you to identify your most concerning weaknesses and strengths – but only if it’s the right data presented in the right way.
Think of a spreadsheet with a column full of numbers. Without context, those numbers are essentially useless to you – they may be prices, they may be addresses, they may even be telephone numbers. Once you filter the data and add labels, the data suddenly becomes extremely useful and viable.
Robust CRMs take this a step further by “cleaning” the data you create automatically. You waste far less time stripping out corrupt values, inappropriate entries, inaccuracies, duplication and other information that can cause you to make bad decisions. What you visualize at the end is easier to review, easier to break down, and – perhaps most importantly – infinitely more valuable to you. Confidence in your intelligence matters!
Easier Customer Filtering and Analysis
If someone asked you to identify a specific group of people fitting a complex marketing persona right now, how long would it take you to dig through your customer data to find it? If you aren’t utilizing a robust CRM, the answer is usually at least more than a few minutes. If you happen to have a high volume of data, the answer could very easily become days or even months.
CRM takes the pain out of filtering customer data by allowing you to tag, sort, and identify keywords for your customers based on their information. Want to find all customers from a specific zip code? You can do that in seconds. Need to find information for everyone who purchased a specific collection of products last year? You can do that in seconds with a robust CRM.
Email filtering also becomes infinitely easier under the right CRM program. Search for unaddressed complaints, support requests, compliments, requests to buy, or requests for information using only the customer email itself – the system handles the filtering for you. What you recieve is a pre-sorted list that fits your specific needs.
Drilled-Down Tracking for Every CRM Stage
Every customer moves through the customer lifecycle at a different rate – first from awareness, through consideration, into evaluation, and (hopefully) finally purchasing your product or service. Their perceptions and interactions at every single stage of that process can significantly impact whether or not they move on to the next stage or disappear forever.
Traditionally, software did address lifecycle tracking – but it wasn’t particularly good at it, nor was it efficient. Most apps told you where the customer was within the lifecycle and little more. Today, CRM can “read between the lines” to track and analyze not only the lifecycle stages, but what happens between those lifecycle stages to influence decisions. This includes identifying exactly what causes a customer to transition between stages (both positive and negative).
This deeper tracking and analysis is really about tracking customer experience metrics – when they interact, how they interact, and at what point in your interactions they drop out if gaps exist. By identifying substages, a robust CRM lets you pinpoint exactly which part of the customer experience fails to meet the customer’s demands. Eventually, you hone your pipeline so thoroughly that nearly every customer not only converts, but repeats and even refers others, too.
Fluid Customer Communication Methods
Businesses today have more communication channels than ever before. Simply offering your customers telephone access is rarely enough; instead, you need to have a presence by telephone, email, chat, and even social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. Customers see businesses who lack these presences as ill-prepared or even cold and unavailable to them, something that can taint your reputation and public perception.
CRM streamlines your communication channels into a single source, where everyone in customer support, sales, billing, and any other predefined department can see all previous interactions. It also tracks when, where, and how the customer was contacted and whether or not their reason for contact was successfully resolved.
Marketing via email or social media? Newer CRM platforms handle this type of communication flawlessly, too. You can track clicks, product recommendations, conversions, or even run entire email campaigns from within your robust CRM platform. Design emails based on clean data sourced from within the software to significantly improve the chances of conversion and satisfaction along the way.
Advanced AI Integration
AI is the way of the future, and most CRM platforms are either integrating it into their systems now or plan to in the near future. That’s probably why AI is easily the biggest and most popular trend in software and business for 2018. Organizations who don’t use AI in some fashion, either through CRM or with homegrown AI solutions, will sit significantly further behind other businesses in terms of competitiveness.
One of the biggest benefits from AI is the ability to auto-sort incoming interactions or requests. Tools that auto-filter and sort incoming requests from any channel into the best department for the job – including support, sales, or even retention – ensure needs are addressed quickly in the right way. Customers who are extremely upset aren’t accidentally channeled through to cold sales, and customers who want to buy don’t end up sitting on hold for support so long they don’t follow-through.
AI is also changing how we greet and handle initial customer interactions. Incredibly advanced, intelligent chatbots can respond to customers instantly, addressing simple requests (like asking for a telephone number or confirming sales information) faster. These chatbots have become virtually indistinguishable from real people in most business-applied situations, leaving the customer feel personally addressed even if your live support line happens to have a 50-minute queue.
Augmented Team Collaboration
CRM isn’t always just about handling customers; sometimes, it’s about empowering the teams and business owners who service those customers in the first place. With the gig economy and global workforce in full swing, having the ability to remote in to work with your team digitally is a must.
Robust CRM platforms create the perfect digital workplace for every aspect of business, from everyday management to customer resolutions. Connect with team members, share templates, run team campaigns (regardless of the department), cultivate a database of documents, or assign team challenges – you can do it all from within the same CRM software you’re already using.
Supervisors and leaders can also benefit from CRM; just as it gives you the ability to sort and track customers, so, too, can you track and analyze team workflows. Correct human resources issues, workflow bottlenecks, efficiency problems, and lack of communication in real-time while also ensuring tasks stay on track.