If you’re thinking about implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy there are two things you need to know right now.
First, CRM is not software. The software allows you to compile data on customers and prospects that enables you to build better relationships with them. It can help you identify their needs and wants better, faster, more efficiently. But the software is only one of the tools you will use.
Yet many people still think that CRM is synonymous with whichever software you purchase. It’s not. You know that farming is the process of growing plants in a planned manner to provide food or raw materials that can be used to create clothing and other products. Just as farming is not synonymous with “tractor,” CRM is not synonymous with its software.
Second, at its most basic, adopting a CRM philosophy is going to require changes in three areas:
The people, your employees, will need to be sold on the usefulness of the new philosophy and may need to receive training in how to more effectively manage relationships with your customers. If you are moving from a “transactional” philosophy to a “relational” philosophy, you’ll need to expend a great deal of resources in reorienting your employees’ mindsets.
New processes will need to be put in place to require data capture and analysis. This could range from recognizing and rewarding those who are effective at it to creating new policies and procedures. Should each person enter his or her own data, or should it be sent in some raw form to a centralized data entry center? Which data should be captured?
Finally, technology is the CRM software itself. How will your employees use it? They’ll need to be trained on it, not just entering the data, but pulling reports as well.
Remember, it’s not called Customer DATA Management. The relationship between your business and the customer is what is most important. It’s that three-foot space surrounding your customer whether he’s engaging with a human being in a traditional sales setting or is interfacing with a Web site such as Amazon.com. Every other resource, including the software, should have worked together to provide your sales rep or your Web site with the right information to be delivered in the right manner at the right time.