The ABCs of Cloud Based CRM

by Marcy Hoffman on April 20, 2011

A Cloud Based CRM Primer.

“A recent survey by Intuit found that more than one-half of small businesses perform CRM (customer relationship management)  tasks manually or with software not designed for the job; 28 percent use pen and paper, while another 28 percent manually enter data on spreadsheets.”

I expected the number to be even higher. I was invited to participate in a woman’s small  business forum and during breakfast, I asked a number of attendees what CRM program they used. This is a forum comprised of successful small business owners and based on their area of expertise, a number were using industry specific programs, although very few were cloud based. What surprised me however were how many were using their accounting and billing systems as their client management program.  I guess this falls under ‘software not designed for the job’. CRMs aren’t new yet the older generation programs, the ones that came on CD-s, were complicated to use and were just as often discarded. My firm belief is that any tool that requires a tutorial isn’t worth my time. Yet a good, cloud based CRM app can increase sales, customer retention and employee productivity and are easy to use.

So let’s start with the basics: The A,B,C of CRM:

Automation

At a meeting I recently attended, I ran into a potential client and within minutes of discussing her company’s needs, was able to send information she requested from our company’s knowledge base, calendar a call with our VP of Sales and send a task to my team to prepare a report needed for this call.

A customer management app stores your company’s information and feeds it how you want it, when you need it. Pull up a client’s profile to see every interaction your company has had with that client; the initial interaction, sales process, sale information, contracts, payments, complaints, employees assigned to that client/project, payments, reorders…. all in one place. Instant, real-time information available for your salespeople, marketing team and customer service staff (whether this is one person or a team). And, with the cloud, this information is accessible from any web enabled device.

Business Intelligence

Information. It is the heart and soul of every business, whether a SOHO or a multi-national corporation. Information on sales, products, projects, employees, income and expenses etc. And at its core, that is definition of a CRM app a widely-implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support.

Customer service and support

Recognizing that service is an important factor in attracting and retaining customers, organizations are increasingly turning to technology to help them improve their clients’ experience while aiming to increase efficiency and minimize costs. Small Business employees multi-task and have to perform many jobs and be prepared to take over for a fellow employee. It is said that a dissatisfied customer will complain to 7 others and retaining customers is critical for every business. The best way to defuse this potentially toxic situation is to respond to any complaint instantly and personally. Physicians have learned that they can reduce lawsuits simply by spending time and listening to their patients; the same holds true for all businesses.

Using a cloud based CRM program allows everyone in your company to respond to a customer instantly by pulling up their profile, scheduling the appropriate action and calendaring a follow up call to ensure that the client is satisfied. Nordstrom built their business by empowering their sales staff to service their clients by cross selling, teaming with other departments or, as is related in the Nordstrom Way, by buying a pair of pants for a client from another store because this item wasn’t in stock.

Imagine your customer retention if your customers never have to hear those hated words: hold on a minute so I can locate the person who can help you.

Click here to learn how a cloud-based CRM app could help grow your small business.

 

 

{ 2 comments }

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