What is Customer Relationship Management – and why is it important for your firm?
Looking for a CRM, but don’t really understand why? Find out why customer relationship management is important for your firm.
In recent years, the overwhelming growth and popularity of online shopping has forced retailers to find increasingly more inventive and compelling reasons for clients to choose their particular store over their competitors. Indeed, many industry experts argue that the e-commerce sector is leading the way in terms of retailing and pioneering new and innovative ways to find fresh clients, create brand loyalty and drive repeat sales.
From Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to email marketing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems capable of predicting client preferences, online retailing is increasingly relying on new tech and automation to drive efficiency and expand markets. However, while identifying and generating new business is important, one particular aspect of online sales has come to the fore in recent years – namely, holding onto existing clients and improving service through effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
Customer Relationship Management explained
While most business owners are aware of the importance of good customer service, the opportunities offered by modern tech and, in particular, web-based e-commerce platforms can completely transform the entire consumer journey from first contact through to after-sales care and (if performed correctly) repeat purchases.
When people talk about CRM, they are typically referring to software capable of monitoring past and present purchases – systems that are even able to predict what future purchases might be. A fully fledged CRM software app can enable a firm to acquire new clients while also developing relationships with existing clients to retain their custom.
Customer Relationship Management refers to every stage of the consumer journey and should be an ongoing developmental process if your firm is to remain proactive and professional online.
To study how a good CRM system can benefit your business, it’s perhaps best to consider some existing, highly successful examples:
Apple’s approach to CRM:
Of all companies, Apple has one of the most successful CRM strategies in place – so much so that, when people buy into the brand, they tend to do so for life and across all their devices. Apple actively stimulates its customers to stay within the Apple ecosystem by making it easy to sync data, preferences and media across all its tech – and it does so by forcing its users to register with the firm for an Apple ID. This ID can then be used by Apple to predict future buying preferences and interests by studying user behavior and offering targeted marketing. Moreover, the consumer benefits from their devices apparently ‘knowing’ what they might want – plus having the convenience of being able to access their all-important data across any Apple-registered piece of hardware.
Amazon’s CRM has been one of the primary reasons for the firm’s meteoric rise over the last few years to become the undisputed king of the online retail sector. Amazon’s goal has always been to offer an unrivaled shopping experience, but one driven by consumers rather than product sales – an approach that simply wouldn’t be possible in a real-world environment. One of the most compelling reasons people choose Amazon over its competitors is its simplicity and speed of use. From the minute you register for an Amazon account, the firm actively tracks and monitors your browsing and shopping behavior across multiple platforms. This gives the company access to a user’s likely preferences and interests in ways that aren’t possible offline. Amazon has been so proactive in simplifying the entire online shopping experience that it even pioneered tech like one-click-purchasing, thereby breaking down potential bottlenecks in the buying process and making it quicker and easier than ever to buy from its store.
Effective CRM goes far beyond just store intelligence
As mentioned earlier, good CRM encompasses every stage of the consumer journey and allows firms to hand-hold consumers right through the buying process – from the first interaction to after-sales and follow-ups. An effective CRM platform allows firms to see everything from how their clients (new and existing) accessed their site (thereby testing the effectiveness of your SEO and web marketing) to how they browsed products and can even help identify and isolate where shopping cart abandonment problems have occurred.
Moreover, a well-produced CRM system can even integrate with other platforms you might use to help with your ongoing marketing and communications with clients. For example, if you use Gmail as your preferred email platform, you could use a Gmail signature generator app to produce branded emails from your firm to your clients to thank them for their purchase, send receipts or advise them of special offers or additional products that might be of interest to them.
This one-stop-shop, all-in-one solution makes it far easier for firms to maintain good client contact and relations with consumers while also helping to identify new markets – both geographically and demographically.
How CRM can help streamline your firm’s online operations
There is a widely accepted wisdom within the e-commerce sector that 89% of clients who receive poor customer service will migrate to using a competitor’s service instead. Likewise, research shows that the average American consumer who isn’t satisfied with a firm will go on to tell 15 or more people of their troubles. These types of statistics help demonstrate just how important customer service has become – and particularly more so in the e-com environment where there is so little human interaction between consumer and business owners/staff.
Integrating CRM software will allow you to see every stage of the buying process while also helping you to streamline and improve areas and processes that are falling short. Moreover, effective CRM improves the consumer journey and increases satisfaction while also helping foster ongoing relationships that can turn into repeat sales.
Most business owners recognize it is far easier to generate sales from existing clients than to try and win new ones – and improving customer service is one the most effective ways of encouraging brand loyalty. Indeed, recent research among Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) found a staggering 61% of SME firms report over half of their business comes from repeat customers rather than new clients. Just one more reason why CRM software should be top of your list for improving your e-com performance.