CRM: Customer Relationships Matter
Customer relationship management software – or, CRM – has been around in one form or another since the mid-1980s. Initially no more than a digital rolodex, CRM and its capabilities have evolved, with hundreds of companies developing applications for organizations of all shapes and sizes.
For many businesses, CRM applications have effectively replaced spreadsheets and paper filing systems - but many small- and mid-sized business owners wonder if they even need CRM. Haven’t cocktail napkins and matchbooks been proven over the test of time? Considering upfront implementation cost, time lost in learning a new system, not to mention the costs associated with upgrades and upkeep, CRM can look like a big investment. What if the financial return doesn’t prove worthwhile?
Calculating ROI for a CRM implementation isn’t easy. Many companies get wrapped up in the idea of “saving time” through “fewer clicks” and “easier access to information.” And while these are important considerations, what really matters isn’t the technology.
What really matters to most companies is ensuring consistent, sustainable growth. And sustainable growth almost always depends on developing your most important asset: customer relationships.
CRM = Customer Relationships Matter.
When you identify the CRM practices that are essential to your business, and you implement the CRM tool that’s right for you, you will build deeper, stronger relationships. And those customer relationships provide both a base for your organization’s current success and a base for your continued growth.
In 1,000 True Fans, Kevin Kelly wrote that artists and creators need “1,000 true fans” to be successful financially. Relating effectively to those “true fans” – and letting them help you grow your customer base - is what CRM is all about.
CRM helps you connect with your fans beyond sales. It helps you create a dialogue, making your customers feel that your relationship is more than a transaction. This connection creates the space that allows your “true fans” to engage in conversation, to share those conversations with others, to create the referrals that will broaden your customer base.
And remember, your “true fans” are more than just your current customers. They are your suppliers, your employees, industry colleagues and other partners. Your 1,000 true fans want to see your business grow and prosper. You don’t want to take those relationships for granted. An effective CRM application makes sure you don’t.
Today’s CRM – unlike the digital rolodex we started with 30 years ago – will help you deepen your relationships with your truest fans. CRM will remind you to appreciate your customers. CRM will encourage you to stay in touch, reminding your prospects and customers how you can help them solve their current problems. CRM will keep you in front of your fans, and will give your prospects and customers the subtle reminder that you are there to help them.
The strength of your relationships – and particularly the strength of your relationships with those “1,000 true fans” – will determine the strength of your company, from the bottom line to the corner office. Today’s CRM can help make keeping those relationships strong an easy and natural part of your business day.
Mary Beth Melchior and the SYNACT team help small- and medium-sized businesses implement CRM in a zero-conflict, all-inclusive service model that ensures they get the tools they need to serve their customers. If you want to deepen relationships with your “1,000 true fans,” get in touch by emailing Mary Beth at email@example.com.