OVERVIEW OF CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (CRM)
IS CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT NEEDED?
Retaining your customers
is a critical factor in being successful. It is much more expensive to
get a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer. Customer
retention requires that you have a more personal relationship with your
customers and provide multiple methods of communication. Many people in
your organization have contact with your customers: sales people, customer
support reps, consultants, management, and, sometimes, developers. Customer
Relationship Management enables you to provide information about all these
relationships and contacts with each customer. The CRM methodology requires
creation of an enterprise-wide database containing all information about
your customer. This enables all individuals who have contact with the
customer to know everything that is taking place with the customer.
DOES CRM REQUIRE?
above, Customer Relationship Management requires a central enterprise-wide
database that is used by all members of the organization, and is often
referred to as Enterprise Relationship Management. The first relationship
generally occurs during the sales and marketing cycle when the "customer"
is first a "prospect". During the sales process, all information gathered
about the prospect site and their personnel is recorded in the CRM database.
Once the prospect becomes a customer, sales will most likely still retain
a relationship with the customer. In addition, customer support, professional
services, development, and management play important roles in providing
service and maintaining a good relationship with the customer.
Every conversation, visit, or correspondence with a customer should be
recorded in this database. You need to track the individuals at your customer,
the products which the customer has purchased, what has been shipped to
the customer, maintenance contracts or service level agreements as well
as all work or support provided to your customer.
If all relationships and contacts are maintained in this database, any
person who is speaking with the customer will have access to all this
information. Not only does this improve the ability to provide superior
service, but each customer feels like they are important to you which
results in higher customer satisfaction.
ARE THE COMPONENTS AND WHO ARE THE USERS OF A CRM SYSTEM?
- Marketing needs to analyze previous
marketing campaigns to determine where marketing dollars should be
spent. They should be able to identify the type, size, etc. of their
- Sales Force Automation (SFA) is crucial
for your telesales and/or outside sales force to automate their sales
effort. This should include tracking a history of each Sales Opportunity
and the ability to set ticklers, do forecasting, track the competition
and all other available information about the prospect.
- Once the prospect becomes a customer
you need to record the products purchased, quantities, maintenance
contracts, and/or service level agreements. You will also need to
track the products that have been shipped to the customer. This might
include the version/release for software products and the serial numbers
for hardware products.
- Customer Support comes into the picture
to provide service for the customer in answering questions, resolving
bugs, and tracking enhancement requests. During this process, the
support rep should be notified if the customer's maintenance contract
has expired. They also need to be aware of all other open issues for
- Development and QA are involved when
the customer's issue is an actual software bug. Development needs
to record the way they are fixing this problem and how the fix is
being supplied to the customer.
- Professional Services maintains a
relationship with the customer to provide implementation services,
training, custom modifications, or other consulting services. All
this information should be recorded in the CRM database to provide
a complete picture of all contacts and services provided to the customer.
- Management must be able to review
and monitor the services and interactions with customers. An automated
Escalation or Notification system should warn management if response
times or other time commitments are not being met.