As a business leader, you know that customer relationship management (CRM) is essential to your success. Your competitors know it too. In fact, Grandview Research estimates around 91% of organisations with 10 or more employees, currently use CRM software to track and optimise the customer journey. With those stats, it's likely you may already have a CRM in place. If not, perhaps your business is growing and the need for a CRM has materialised.
Either way, with so many CRM solutions on the market, how can you be sure you're choosing the right one for your business? In this blog post, we'll break down the nature of customer relationship management, the valuable features CRM can bring to your business and help you figure out which solution is right for you.
Table of contents
- The nature of customer relationship management.
- Importance of integrated CRM systems for modern businesses.
- How customer-centric businesses are maintaining a competitive edge.
- What valuable features a good CRM can bring to your business.
- Common challenges of CRM and CRM systems
- What is the most commonly used CRM?
- How does Odoo CRM compare?
- Feedback from our own customers using Odoo CRM.
The Nature of Customer Relationship Management
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the term for the combination of various practices, strategies, and technologies that companies use to manage and analyse customer interactions and data from first contact until after purchase. The goal is to improve customer relationships, drive customer loyalty for greater customer retention and encourage sales growth.
So, while CRM involves technology, it also involves strategies, processes, and importantly, people! All of this combine for the purpose of building and maximising the long-term value of customer relationships.
Examples of CRM:
CRM on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn allows businesses to engage with customers directly. Social media presents an open forum for customers to share experiences with a brand, whether they are airing grievances or promoting products.
Businesses use social CRM tools to add value to customer interactions on social media. These tools monitor conversations (like brand mentions and frequency of keywords used) to identify target audiences and which platforms they're using. Other features analyse feedback and address customer questions or problems.
Traditionally, data intake for CRM systems has been the job of sales and marketing teams as well as contact center agents. Sales and marketing personnel acquire leads and modify the system with information throughout the customer lifecycle, while contact centers gather data and alter customer history records through service calls and technical support interactions.
Mobile apps for CRM have become a staple for sales and marketing representatives who want to be able to access customer information and perform tasks when they are not physically in their office.
- Implementing a loyalty programme that rewards frequent shoppers with special offers.
- Creating a feedback loop that allows customers to share feedback and offer suggestions.
- Ensuring customers can always reach a live operator or chat desk when contacting a business's help center
How The Nature Of Customer Relationship Management Has Changed
Historically, CRM was used mainly as a way to track and organise information about customers so a business could identify its most valuable client and tailor marketing strategies to generate more revenue. Over the years, the nature of CRM has expanded. Today, it is also viewed as a way for employees to perform their jobs more efficiently and for businesses to increase one of their most important assets - customer loyalty. In addition, CRM is an important tool for use in business decision-making and product development. As business and technology changes, so does customer relationship management. A closer look at modern customer relationships reveals how today's businesses approach CRM.
Characteristics of CRM Today
CRM systems have evolved over the years to become more customer-centric. They now offer a more holistic view of customers, incorporating data from various sources such as social media, marketing campaigns, and sales interactions. The nature of CRM has therefore changed with continual learnings and a better understanding of what drives the buying decision of customers.
Traditional CRM relied on customer profiling, tracking historic actions, and developing insights from that data to inform marketing campaigns. Further innovation then brought us cloud technology, mobile tools, social media management, and significant service enhancements.
Today, businesses can relish cutting-edge CRM technologies that combine social CRM and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide holistic profiling of customers and potential customers. Open source software allows for CRM systems to be customised and optimised to deliver to precise needs.
LinkedIn found that around 65% of sales professionals now use a CRM regularly, and approximately 97% consider sales technology, including CRM systems to be either important or “very important”.
Importance of CRM for Modern Businesses
Your customers are your most valuable asset. The need for CRM is linked primarily to the demand for good customer experience (CX). According to Zendesk, 75% of customers say they’ll spend more on products from a company that offers a good CX. A major part of offering good CX in the modern world will include being able to track and manage conversations across an ever increasing list of channels. Approximately 64% of customers started using a new channel for customer service in 2020.
Today's customer data is spread across various channels, or touchpoints between the customer and the company. These could include your website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials, and social networks. Your customer-facing staff members also obtain detailed information on customers' personal information, purchase history, buying preferences, and concerns. Your customer relationship management is only as good as your ability to record, analyse and draw insights from all of those touch points.
It has become crucial, therefore, that businesses implement strategies and technologies that allow for all of the data across each of the touchpoints to be managed effectively and efficiently. A single source of truth empowers your people to work more efficiently, with better insights that drive better decisions.
CRM benefits businesses in 4 key ways:
- Customer information, past purchases, and interactions are easily accessible, allowing customer support reps, sales reps, and marketing executives to do their jobs better. Customer support can provide better service, sales can leverage the data to ensure they're contacting prospects at the right time and with a personalised message. Marketing can draw accurate insights for better targeting, and messaging and ultimately cut through with their intended audience.
- Collection of and access to customer data can help businesses identify key trends and insights about customers and prospects through reporting and visualisation features.
- Automation of mundane, repetitive tasks throughout the sales funnel and customer support.
- Alignment of sales and marketing. So much value can be drawn from visualising real-life conversations that sales teams are having with prospects and customers. This is where modern businesses are truly stepping ahead of the competition.
As reported by Finances Online, cutting-edge CRM tools are increasingly beginning to evolve to include more technology connections (like AI technology). Ultimately, it is the view of experts that an end-to-end solution for tracking customer interactions across multiple platforms will be essential to the future success of CRM technology.
Components of Modern CRM Software
A CRM is only as good as the information you put into it. The best CRM software will seamlessly integrate with Sales, Invoicing, and Email Marketing. Preferably, your CRM system will be just one component of your enterprise resource planning system (ERP).
AI technologies in CRM are simply the ability for your CRM system to do more than just show you the information you put into it. AI uses that data to learn and subsequently suggest automation for repetitive tasks, identify customer buying patterns, and predict future customer behaviours. Just like Netflix personalises the list of shows based on your preferences, AI in CRM identifies patterns within the data of your customers.
Sales leads can be tracked throughout the sales pipeline, enabling sales teams to input, track, and analyse data in one place.
Working smarter, not harder. CRM systems can help optimise processes by streamlining workflows, automating repetitive tasks and even eliminating some tasks entirely. This technology enables your staff to focus on creative and high-level tasks.
Quickly becoming a must-have for businesses of all sizes in CRM is marketing automation. The ability to automate tasks at different points in the lifecycle for lead generation is highly desirable when the list of marketing channels consistently grows! A lead produced from your website, social media or advertising effort can populate directly into your CRM software. Once there, sales prospects might automatically trigger email marketing content or a phone call with the perfect salesperson to turn that lead into a full-fledged customer.
One thing is certain, new components of CRM will continue to form as CRM technology becomes more essential and as extended reality avenues appear for customer service. According to Three Kit, 61% of consumers now say they prefer online stores which offer AR experiences. Virtual Reality and Augmented reality may become additional channels to track in the CRM, alongside video, voice, and chat.
Tips for choosing the right CRM
When choosing a CRM system, it is important to consider the needs of your business. Some factors to consider include the size of your business, the type of business, the number of customers, and the type of products or services offered. It is also important to find a CRM that is user-friendly and easy to learn.
Define Your Needs First
When it comes to choosing technology, the choice always starts with your business needs. What do you need the technology to do for you? There are so many CRM software options to choose from with a wide range of features. You may find you would only use a quarter of the features so you want to be sure you're not paying for more than you need.
Opt For A User Friendly Interface
Whichever CRM software you choose to implement into our business, it can only be as good as the person using it and the information entered into it. Ease of use is important because the CRM tool needs to make life easier, not more complex. The users of the software will be reliant on it to do their jobs better and less time. Therefore ease of use is an important consideration. So too is the availability of your software provider or partner to be available to train your people and set them up for success with ongoing support.
Your marketing team will require a CRM system that offers a complete view of every lead, current customers, and previous customers. Information including demographics, purchasing history and margins will help to inform smarter, tailored marketing campaigns.
Tieing back to the first tip, it is important to define the needs of the marketing team. How can technology assist by automating processes around email marketing, landing pages, scoring and qualifying leads, and running integrated marketing campaigns.
Your Customer Relationship Management software needs to scale with the needs of your business. So in choosing the best CRM for your business, consider what you want your organisation to grow into in the years to come. If you don't need some features today, does the software allow for future adjustments or add ons without having to pay for the full suite of functionality right away?
Cloud-based CRM systems have become relatively affordable. When considering price however, consider all of the single applications you use and how they might work all together. Is your tech stack going to grow into an unmanageable mess?
One of the best free CRM software options on the market is Odoo CRM. The cloud based application is free for as many users as you like for as long as you use the single application. This gives a really good starting point for smaller businesses to try out the software before committing. Once you decide to commit, a qualified Odoo partner is the best way to successfully configure a CRM system to your specific needs while also integrating any other applications that will support your business' success into the future.
What valuable features does CRM bring to the business?
A single source of truth to display and better understand customer needs and preference, driving meaningful insights for better customer service
- A complete view of customers, including demographics, purchasing history, and margins
- Help sales and marketing teams identify potential leads and track sales opportunities
- Automate customer service tasks, such as responding to queries or complaints
Software Advice reported that the most requested features in CRM technology are schedule reminders (85%), interaction tracking (88%), and contact management (94%). Increasingly however, users are looking for more advanced functions like customisation tools, sales and marketing automation, AI, and access to extensive reporting and analytics.
What is the most commonly used CRM?
The CRM software market is large, and ever growing. Salesforce appears to be the largest player with approximately 20% market share. Other popular CRM platforms include Odoo CRM, Sugar CRM and Hubspot. While Hubspot and Odoo provide free plans, the other platforms currently offer paid plans only. For all options, paid plans and included features and benefits vary greatly.
When considering which CRM is best for your business, we advise our clients to ensure they choose a CRM that meets their needs, has localised and in-person training and support, and offers the ability to scale. For growing SME's and businesses in New Zealand, we recommend Odoo CRM to most due to how powerful and flexible Odoo's full suite of business applications are. However, we are also able to integrate Odoo with other CRM platforms, like Salesforce, to drive smart automations across departments.
How does Odoo CRM compare to the most commonly used CRMs?
Odoo CRM offers many features that are not available in other CRMs, such as marketing automation, lead management, project management, eCommerce integration, and more. Additionally, Odoo is affordable and scalable, so it can grow with your business.
A top benefit of Odoo however is that Odoo CRM is just one module of Odoo's complete ecosystem of business management tools and software. We know data centralisation is integral to successful customer relationship management. Odoo CRM captures all details of every contact just as every good CRM does. However, the highly integrated nature of Odoo means that once a sales team confirms and order, the customer relationship manager, accountant and stock manager all receive that information too. It really is software that needs to be seen to be believed.
What makes Odoo the better choice for businesses in New Zealand?
Some of the reasons our clients give for choosing Odoo CRM are:
- User-friendly interface that is easy to learn and use
- Fully customisable, so it can be adapted to fit any business need
- The ability to connect with other software applications to create a complete business solution
- Localised, in person support (available only through Odoo NZ partners
How customer centric businesses are getting taking advantage of their competitive edge.
Customer centric businesses are those that put the customer first in all they do. They understand that happy customers are repeat customers, and they work hard to ensure that their customers are always satisfied.
In today's competitive marketplace, customer centric businesses have a distinct advantage. They are able to create lifelong relationships with their customers, which leads to repeat business and referrals. Additionally, they are able to quickly adapt to changing customer needs and preferences, ensuring that they always meet or exceed customer expectations.
So what drives the business decisions that enable customer centricity? Data, data, and more data! Centralised, clean, timely data. CRM systems are the key to unlocking this data and using it to drive business decisions. CRM systems help businesses track customer interactions, preferences, and behaviour. This allows businesses to anticipate needs, address problems before they arise, and provide a truly personalised experience.
Over time, CRMs have evolved into an important component of a customer experience CX strategy that is integrated with contact center, helpdesk, and service desk technology. CRMs have become the backbone of customer-centric businesses, and there is no doubt that they provide a competitive edge.
CRM software has become an essential part of any business looking to protect their competitive edge. They provide a way to keep track of customer interactions and manage your customer relationships effectively. By choosing the right CRM for your business, you can ensure that you have all the features you need to provide excellent customer service and evolve with the needs of your customers.
Odoo CRM is a great choice for NZ businesses, as it offers a range of valuable features and is easy to use. Book a free demo with our team or try the free version yourself.
Thanks for reading!