In the three-plus decades since launching my career in 1987, I have worked for or with several configurable Customer Relationship Management (CRM) product companies. During that time, I have had the opportunity to help large, medium, and small companies alike implement Sales and Service CRM solutions.
From that experience, I have come to one major conclusion — that to implement an effective CRM solution, executives need a clear understanding of:
- What they want from your company
- The value that your product or service can bring to them
- How they want to work with your company
- Customers, if they are not the end consumer
- How you are organized for customer sales or service
- What business processes are necessary to get and maintain your customers
- What the roles are, and people needed to support the processes
Knowing your customers is a crucial prerequisite for selling to or servicing them. Companies often think about what they need from their customers while forgetting to take what those customers’ needs and expectations into consideration.
Here’s a quick example from my own professional experience.
During my time at one CRM application company, I was asked to attend a meeting with an auto manufacturer. The meeting was conducted by an SI presenting their vision for Customer Journey. The slide presentation outlined a Customer Portal that would walk a potential customer through buying a vehicle. However, after about 40 minutes of watching this, I began to realize their view of the customer journey was all about getting information from the customer for marketing and sales purposes. There was nothing in it for the customer.
So, I asked a simple question — “If I am a previous or current customer, why would I want to do this?”. After some blank stares, they explained the process “would help customers” but failed to say how. I tried to explain that I use a particular Airlines Customer Site because it benefits me, as well as the airline; however, the SI just wanted to show more slides.
To achieve success with a CRM program, you need to capture, maintain, and grow relationships with your customers. Given that your consumers are the people you will engage with during sale and service activities, it is critical to know how they want to work with your company. If they do not understand the value of working with you, the relationship will inevitably become strained.
Relationships require trust — and trust develops when people follow through on their promises. With this in mind, it is crucial that leaders know what their representatives are committing to and whether they have followed through on their word.
To achieve Customer Success, a business needs to align all employees around the goal of making customers happy and successful. I’ve heard people refer to their employees as “internal customers”; while I understand what they mean, I believe that people within a company are team members, not consumers. The entire organization needs to come together to provide products/services that make customers want to choose your company over its competitors.
How, then, does a company make sure that it knows that its people are doing what they say? Here’s where a CRM solution comes into play.
Your CRM solution should help establish and maintain relationships and trust by providing the following:
- Visibility and transparency within and across the organization
- Keep relationships from becoming single-threaded. (e.g., one-to-one)
- Improved communication about what the customer expects from your company
- Improved coaching and teamwork within your team
- Ability to collaborate while selling and servicing the customer
- Improved service and responsiveness
- Improved transparency for customers, efficiently providing them with the timely information they want and need
- Monitoring and tracking how well you are doing
- Identifying areas that are working well and areas that need improvement
Your CRM should go hand-in-hand with your customer success goals and objectives. At Gerent, we define Customer Success as:
“Providing our customers with continuous value by helping them reach their own customer success goals through our services. When we align goals with our customers, we can retain and grow the relationship, as well as increase our mutual opportunities.”
For more information on how our team can empower yours to cultivate customer success, contact Gerent today!