United States

Utilizing CRM to strengthen existing customer relationships


Recent studies have shown that a focal point for executives this year is strengthening existing customer relationships. The old adage is true; it is much more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain existing customers and foster those bonds. Technology is key to enhancing those relationships, and many organizations are further leveraging the capabilities of their customer relationship management system (CRM) to reach those goals. 

CRM is a tool used to better understand who your customers are and what they desire, giving you a database that you can use to track activities and enhance relationships. It starts with understanding how your customers interact with you, buy from you and are served by you. It is very difficult to enhance a relationship without those details and the drivers behind those activities.

By utilizing available information, your CRM platform becomes the foundation of your efforts to build upon your existing relationships. The following three CRM benefits are the pillars of developing a successful strategy to know more about your customers and offer more targeted products and services.  

Sharpening the understanding of customer needs
Your CRM system is a repository of information on how you engage your customers, the activities you provide, and the sales and services you currently perform. Once you have that information, you can develop strategies to better enhance relationships. Use CRM to identify customers or classes of customers whom you want deeper involvement with, through metrics such as buying behavior, size of the organization or number of purchases, whatever area you seek to enhance.

Engaging personally with key customers
With this information in your CRM system, you can identify clients for activities to enhance your relationship, such as more frequent outbound communication relevant to their interests. As a byproduct of that, you can understand even more about their interests, so you can target them with further meaningful communication and offers.

In addition, consider creating plans for your management, sales and customer service representatives to interact with the right customers at the right time. CRM allows you to make those plans, as well as measure performance, create follow-up activities with customers as well as capture feedback from those interaction points. It gives you more information about what you need to do to make your products and services more desirable.

Enhancing the quality of products and services
The sales information and data from customer service and care within your CRM system is invaluable to designing your products and enhancing services. Your CRM system can capture customer interactions, whether they are service calls or other inquiries. From there, you should categorize them appropriately, creating a repository to evaluate where you can make improvements, from enhancing products to increasing quality of service.

The application can also measure your service time, to understand if you are meeting your service level agreements and giving timely feedback. Microsoft is focusing more attention on customer care this year, introducing a unified service desk and a new application for Dynamics CRM that provides greater call center insight and tracking information, measuring the length of the discussion and communicating whether calls are within service level agreements. This information will help develop and refine scripts for certain types of calls to add to your knowledge base. In addition, with the recent acquisition of Parature, more integration with Dynamics CRM will be introduced for customer self-service capabilities and knowledge base access.

The inherent marketing capabilities and tools within most CRM systems can help you provide better outreach to your customers. Your CRM application can help target the right people with the right message and enhance your email or mail communication cycle by:

  • Measuring how people are receiving your message
  • Detailing who is engaging (via your website, online surveys, etc.)
  • Providing actionable feedback that is more relevant to the people you are engaging

Performing these activities in CRM cultivates the information that you need to determine your best customers, capturing their data and demographics, buying habits and their preferences. However, in addition to capturing your data and performing customer enhancement activities within CRM, you also must focus on measurement.

Your CRM system can measure the effectiveness of activities and what employees are doing in relation to established tactics to enhance client engagements. You can create customized reports and dashboards that provide easy-to-digest information for executives and employees. This information details what departments and individuals are doing wrong, as well as what they are doing right, providing opportunities for continued improvement. CRM provides you with the information t you need to develop successful, measurable strategies and tactics.

As organizations increase their focus on strengthening customer relationships, CRM platforms must be a key element of those efforts. CRM systems are sometimes underutilized by organizations that don't take advantage of the inherent capabilities to better understand their customers and what drives their buying behavior. Unlocking the true potential of your CRM application can help your business develop targeted strategies to enhance your products and services, increasing customer loyalty and your competitive advantage.