Customer relationship management (CRM) software help brands effectively manage their interactions with customers over time, on different channels and across the organization. Communication is at the heart of building great relationships — that is, setting expectations, keeping customers apprised of order status, staying in touch and creating feedback loops for them to share their experiences. With CRM software, companies can centralize all their information from customer interactions across channels into one place and many have features that support streamlined marketing plans tied to buyer signals. Yet one recent study found that just 15 percent of companies are using customer data effectively.
CRM’s relational intelligence capabilities help marketers map their communications and outreach to specific factors, such as previous purchases or recent interactions. Here’s a closer look at the most important ways to communicate when it comes to CRM and how the right technology suite can help.
How CRM Became a Trend
CRM products hit the market in response to growing companies’ struggles to deliver a consistent customer experience. Not only do customers want streamlined service whether they’re dealing with an accounts team or with customer service, but they expect personalized communications and interactions on their terms. As the Harvard Business Review notes, “Despite the ‘R’ in CRM and the $11 billion spent on CRM software annually, many companies don’t understand customer relationships at all. They lack relational intelligence — that is, they aren’t aware of the variety of relationships customers can have with a firm and don’t know how to reinforce or change those connections.” Marketers need to take steps to understand the dynamics of the relationships customers expect; and know how to target channel choice, messaging and support to build those interactions.
What can brands do to make the most of CRM-driven communications?
Set a clear vision for your communications. Create a clear, overarching vision for your customer communications. What does your company want to achieve from relationships and customer marketing? For example, are you trying to deepen relationships in order to build repeat purchases, or be seen as a thought leader in your field? Both of these are worthy goals, yet with a clear vision and a supporting communications plan, it’s possible to harness the full potential of your technology and marketing resources to make it a reality.
Create an end-to-end CRM communications cycle. Effective CRM communications should be an end-to-end strategy. Disney offers a great example of this type of system, which begins when customers book their trips and receive welcome packages. They can select ride preferences, dinner reservations and more online. Those items are then immediately available to the guests at the company’s resorts and theme parks when they arrive, thanks to a radio-frequency identification (RFID)–powered Magic Band. Support is available throughout the trip and then guests receive follow-up after they return home. The customer management funnel is omni-channel, in real time and moves throughout the customer lifecycle.
Use segmentation to target your messaging. One of the most important features of a CRM strategy and software system is the ability to segment your audience. Whether you’re creating different segments based on product purchases, demographics, or other factors, targeting your communications by customer segment keeps your interactions personalized, relevant and on-message.
Omni-channel CRM should be powered by customers’ preferences. CRMs help you communicate via the channels that align with customer preferences. Companies have the potential to reach customers anywhere and can often achieve a “surround sound” effect. Yet your CRM needs to be anchored around your customers’ preferences. Using CRM, you can integrate insights from across channels while prioritizing the preferences that are most important to your customers.
Customer relationship management is the cornerstone of building good relationships with your audience. By embracing omni-channel insights and relational intelligence, it’s possible to build a strategy that allows you to deliver personalized end-to-end support on the channels your customers want most. This is the foundation of effectively leveraging customer data and today’s technology to grow your business and achieve your most pressing business goals.
Liz Alton writes about digital marketing and her work has been featured in USA Today, Forbes, Inc, Harvard Business Review and Entrepreneur. Her specialties include all things marketing, technology, B2B, big data/analytics, cloud and mobility. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and an MBA from Western Governors University. She is currently pursuing a master’s in journalism from Harvard University. Liz is a paid contributor to THINK Marketing.