It is necessary to know the most important CRM practices since there’s very little doubt now that CRM is the growth sector. Recent research claims CRM could be worth $80 billion in revenue by 2025. The realization that CRM is the tool of choice for automation and enhancing customer experience. One of the chief factors behind this skyrocketing popularity is CRM’s ability to produce actionable business insights.
And this comes at a time when customers are demanding more of brands in terms of customer experience and service. This intersection has put a weight of expectation on the shoulders of CRM. Implementing a CRM project is just the starting point. A successful CRM implementation, however, does not come without substantial challenges.
What you will learn in this article
- How CRM has evolved
- Why using CRM is important
- Important CRM features to have
- 12 best practice CRM tips
- The bottom line
The evolution of CRM
Not so long ago CRM was little more than an updated filofax. It was a central digital store for customer information and contact details.
Over time, CRM’s functionality has exploded to include a comprehensive suite of features to mine your data. It’s now possible to not only improve customer experience and communications, but also to provide the information you need to become more efficient and productive as a business.
If the old-school CRM was tiddlywinks, the new generation is multi-dimensional 3D chess.
The business case for CRM
Today, it’s critical that all businesses, regardless of size, implement a CRM solution as a matter of urgency. Industry experts are convinced that you and your company will be remembered 20 years hence for your customer experience, not your product or service. Many also go as far as to say that customer experience will become more important than price point in differentiating brands.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of CRM. Today’s customers are tech-savvy and discerning in their product and brand selections. If there’s one thing the global pandemic has thrown into focus, it’s where shoppers decide to spend their cash. A dear <insert name here> document is no longer going to cut it.
The evolution of CRM, however, enables you to keep pace with the paradigm shift in buying habits. Customers expect more and CRM is the way to meet these expectations whether you are a large corporation or a small business with a payroll of less than 250. Underpinning any successful implementation are cost effectiveness and having the right mix of features.
Essential CRM features for small business
A good CRM system will include the following small business-friendly tools:
Deep analytics – Comprehensive analytics is a must-have to help you obtain the big picture and make evidence-backed business decisions.
Contact management – Any CRM worthy of the name will have versatile contact management to help better manage and cultivate contacts.
Integrated functionality – Integration of sales, marketing and customer data is key to improving customer experience.
Customization – You need to be able add and remove CRM features as required, and have integration with your other back office software.
Social listening – Advanced tech to keep an ear on your social media presence.
Ease of use – Always a critical consideration. Your system should be both powerful and user-friendly.
12 CRM best practices for 2021 and beyond
Audit your requirements
You will never get any CRM solution to work properly unless you have a clear idea of your business needs. By doing this, you can narrow down the field of providers to a shortlist of those matching your requirements.
Leverage on the technology to work for you. A thorough understanding of your processes will allow you to automate those that are time-consuming and not the best use of resources.
In nailing down your workflows in a systematic way, be sure you simplify wherever possible. You will get more out of CRM if you keep things simple for users.
Be more proactive
Never take your eye off the ball. Always look for opportunities to be proactive by using smart CRM analytics to identify new opportunities and customer needs.
Make data-driven decisions
Utilize your CRM’s data to make sound business decisions that are based on real-time evidence rather than gut instinct. In 2021 and beyond, CRM analytics are your friend, so be sure to get the maximum benefit.
Adapt to changes
In business, change is frequently swift and dramatic. One of greatest 2021 CRM practices is making a commitment to be open-minded, flexible, and responsive.
Use Artificial Intelligence
As AI-driven data reveals shifts in pattern, be prepared to move fast to take advantage of opportunities or to limit potential damage.
Your best practice adoption should always include social listening. This CRM feature listens out in social media not only for you, but for rival companies as well. It’s a relatively new trend, but one that’s essential in gaining an extra competitive edge in today’s hyper-connected world.
Insist on ease of use and user training
It may sound like a no-brainer, but many companies overlook the people who will be using the system on a daily basis. Many ill-fated CRM implementations made the rookie mistake of going big with max whistles and bells. Always fit the CRM to your business and ensure adequate training for staff.
Establish and implement benchmarks
Insightful KPIs will help you make impactful improvements. Defining KPIs will enable you to have a measure against which to compare any improvements you make to customer relationship processes.
Make full use of customer experience features
Don’t drop the ball on customer experience, best practice dictates using all your CRM’s features to help meet increasing customer demands.
Gain the most from your collaborative efforts
Always keep an eye on collaboration to sense the combined efforts of sales, marketing, and customer service add up to more than the sum of their parts. By maxing the leverage you will see a step change in your company’s fortunes.
History is littered with CRM implementations that went pear-shaped. Small businesses especially cannot afford to muck things up. For this reason, please get in touch with our cloud-based CRM provider for expert help and advice so you can soon improve your business with the mentioned CRM practices.