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The start of every year provides the opportunity to start anew or improve upon the year before. 2021 is certainly no exception.

Michael Lough from Blue Wren, an award-winning software company based in Preston, outlines the benefits of making sure that customer relationship management (CRM) is part of your business planning for 2021.

As many businesses continue to adapt to a new way of doing business, with many employees working from home or remotely from the office, it is important that customer information stored centrally, can still be accessed, updated and fully utilised from remote locations.

CRM is one of the most widely used and most misunderstood aspects of business.

Ask ten business professionals for a definition of CRM and you will probably get ten different answers.

Technology businesses don’t help either as they often use ‘CRM’ as a catchall phrase to describe their software, despite the fact their products may only deliver a small part of the full CRM process.

To give it its full definition: Customer Relationship Management is the practice of converting each prospect into a customer and then retaining customers by regularly engaging with them using personalised service and targeted communication.

In a nutshell, CRM manages your customers’ journey from start to finish. The process can be broken down into three key areas:

  1. Marketing
  2. Sales
  3. Service and delivery

Each element of the CRM process demands specific focus and activity.

Integrating targeted marketing activity

CRM within the marketing function coordinates, implements and measures the various tactical marketing activities of the business. This is about targeting prospects and implementing campaigns to encourage those prospects to engage.

The range and type of marketing activity will depend on the business, but a structured CRM process will help make it more effective by integrating the different marketing channels and tracking their success.

Some examples of using CRM to improve the marketing process include:

  • Segmenting prospects into different groups with their own set of marketing messages.
  • Automating an email marketing campaign to target specific customers.
  • Automatically connect, follow and engage with prospects on social media.
  • Record the number of different ‘touch points’ for each prospect.

Optimising your sales process

There is a lot of cross-over between CRM for marketing and sales but in general the ‘sales’ part of CRM is the process of converting a potential ‘lead’ from prospect into a customer. Optimising your sales process to ensure you convert as many qualified leads as possible can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

Some examples of using CRM to improve the sales process include:

  • Moving potential customers through the sales funnel using a structured process and workflow.
  • Track conversion rates so the business knows how many leads are required to achieve a sale.
  • Record and measure customer acquisition to identify the most cost-effective sales activities.
  • Streamline the sales process using a prepared library of resources and templates for consistency.

Adopting first class service and delivery

The CRM process does not end when the prospect is converted into a customer. In fact, it is only just beginning.

Liaising with the customer to deliver the product or service effectively and profitably is essential for any business success; along with providing responsive customer service and personalised communication to deliver satisfaction and build loyalty.

Some examples of using CRM to improve the service and delivery process include:

  • Giving management full visibility of the status of each sale/project.
  • Recording and tracking customer service and support to optimise response rates.
  • Managing the entire customer journey to ensure total customer satisfaction.
  • Build customer loyalty and retention by setting up workflows and reminders.

Now armed with an understanding of the CRM process the next question is whether the business requires new CRM software, and if so, which one?

Find out in Michael’s next blog post how sourcing the right CRM software can have a transformative effect on a business, but conversely selecting the wrong CRM software can be expensive and disastrous.

Michael is the managing director of Blue Wren. Blue Wren specialises in productivity and process improvement through the delivery of bespoke CRM and workflow software. Each system is customised to the exact requirements of each customer and delivered in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of a ground up development.

Blue Wren is a member of Boost & Co – a group of public and private sector organisations that can help Lancashire businesses grow.

If you’re a Lancashire entrepreneur looking to start a new business or at the early stages of growing a new business, Boost’s funded programme can help you get off to a flying start. Call 0800 488 0057 or complete our quick form and a member of the Boost team will be in touch to start your growth conversation.

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