Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Built To Last – Customer Relationships in Times of Crisis

By Manas Kumar, CEO Genesis Interactive

Forget the four P’s of Marketing and concentrate your efforts on the 3 M’s of Customer Relations as we head deeper into the global recession. What are the 3 M’s I hear you ask? Quite simply they are Manage, Maintain and Measure. Why? Because people, that is your market, are becoming far more prudent with how they spend their income.

In today’s market, referral and word of mouth mean more than slick adverting campaigns and promotional gimmicks. And although we are not advocating that you stop your marketing efforts, we are saying that it makes great sense and logic to reinvest in that one area of your business that has perhaps gone untapped for some time – Your past customers.

It may surprise you just how many businesses never go back to their past customers with offers and promotions. Bizarre when you stop to consider how much you spent to acquire these customers to begin with.

An essential tool in managing your current customer base is a robust CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System. A good CRM allows you to do far more than just store contact information and customer notes, it will allow you to manage sales campaigns whether they be part of your acquisition marketing strategy or your re-engagement strategy.

Once you have secured a customer you need to develop a long-term strategy to re-engage with them. This requires that you take off your ‘drive instant revenue’ hat and put on the ‘how to add value to my customers’ hat. Remember that your customers brought from you for a reason, now turn that reason into a compelling proposition for them to continue purchasing from you.

A good CRM can help you in this process by integration with your POS system - customer purchase histories can be stored and used for specific campaigns directed at adding value to that specific customer. Oh’ but what about privacy I hear you say… Let’s get real about that issue, if you are using the information you have gained responsibly you have nothing to worry about. I know that I would rather get offers for things I am specifically interested in than the copious amount of junk mail both electronic and paper based that I currently receive.

In line with email marketing you can always give your customer the option to opt out and in sending personalised standard mail you can also give them the same option.

By tying together your marketing efforts with a CRM application you are able to collect vital information that will help your business to not only focus your marketing even further but at the same time streamline your sales processes. Make customer interaction with your business that much easier to manage because each customer’s history is in one place. This gives you the capability to offer superior customer service. This is essential in service based industries where centralisation of information is now critical.

I recently had cause to contact a particular service provider on what I thought would be a straight forward matter… after explaining my situation repeatedly and being transferred through a number of departments, my straight forward matter turned into a half day marathon… why? Because my records were spread over 4 separate systems… 4!! They no longer have my business.

That’s the thing we need to realise, with today’s technology integration with a central CRM can help your business to perform at more productive levels. Oh… and in many cases the cost is not as blotted as it was just a few years ago.

Web2.0 technology especially is having a major impact on business applications that can be accessed via the internet making it much easier for companies to integrate systems and access live business intelligence without the need for it to be exported from segmented systems, recompiled in an Excel spreadsheet then analysed and turned into a report that’s already now out of date. After which you discover that the competition jumped in ahead of you with slick visualisations and current data.

This is the power of CRM as a central component of business, giving you the tools to manage both new and existing customers on their terms, which allows you to maintain lasting relationships. Through integration of data sources your business is able to draw live measurement data for use either operationally or within the sales cycles.

The next few years are going to be tough; it’s my belief that the businesses that implement streamlining technologies and build strong customer relationships will be winners. Moreover I think they will be the blue chip companies of a very different looking commercial landscape as this financial winter turns into spring.

About the Author
Manas Kumar is CEO of Genesis Interactive, the parent company behind Live CRM and many other SaaS initiatives

Tags: CRM, Customer Service, Customer Retention, customer relationships

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