Your customers are the foundation of your business, but do you really understand them? Here are 7 key signs that it could be time to consider taking the next step with CRM software.
In the early days of any startup, the task of Customer Relationship Management is often more than easily taken care of with a few spreadsheets and an email inbox. But as your business expands, customer numbers swell and you take on more employees, these techniques simply aren’t fit for purpose. If you’re not careful, this will start to have a negative effect on not only the quality of your customer service, but also your ability to acquire, understand and retain new customers.
CRM software is designed to help you do this more efficiently, more securely and more effectively; it will capture, organise and analyse all aspects of your customer relationships from improving communication and to deepening your understanding of their buying habits and expectations. In fact, according to one of the UK’s leading CRM providers (Salesforce), adopting a CRM system has been shown to increase a business’ sales productivity by up to 44%.
Here are 7 key signs that your business could need CRM software:
1. You’re spending too much time on admin
Sometimes it can feel like day to day administration takes as much, if not more time, than the things which actually contribute to the bottom line. If you’re still relying on paper, email inboxes and multiple spreadsheets to keep a track of your customer data, CRM software could be the solution.
A CRM system replaces these spinning plates with one simple interface; all customer information, buying history and any communication is stored in one location. This can then be edited and accessed by anyone in your company who needs the information, reducing time spent on administration and enabling greater collaboration within your team. With the time you’ve saved you can concentrate on actually helping customers, strengthening relationships and increasing sales.
2. You’re missing customer information
Human error is unavoidable, especially when you have several staff receiving and managing data differently. Perhaps someone prefers to keep paper notes and another relies on email chains. You may even use on word of mouth to pass on information about leads and customer interactions. If this is the case, it’s only a matter of time before a key piece of information is miscommunicated or lost and sales opportunities are missed. It also means when staff are sick or on holiday or an employee leaves, your customer information is suddenly unavailable.
When everyone in your team is updating the same record on CRM software, you all have 24/7 access to the same data. In addition to storing the most up to date contact information, you can also keep track of any communications, purchases, contact preferences, meetings or actions needed. Each member of staff across every department is always working from the latest information and, if your CRM is Cloud based, the data can be accessed wherever staff have an internet connection.
3. Your leads aren’t converting to customers
A sales lead could consist of no more than a name and some contact details, but often this is not the case. You should also know how they found out about your business, what services they’re interested in and any interactions they’ve had with your staff. If you’re finding yourself repeatedly unable to convert leads to paying customers it may be that you have a problem in your sales process, marketing or customer support.
With CRM software you can make a record of all communication between your company and the lead so you can identify the snags. How often were they contacted? Did they express interest in a specific product? Do they tend to open emails in the morning or late at night before bed? Tracking every stage of the customer journey and analysing what brings in sales and what doesn’t is crucial. The better you know your customers, the better you can meet their needs.
4. Your customer service is causing problems, not resolving them
The last thing you want is customer complaints, but they happen to the best of us. It’s important that, when they do crop up, you have a smooth process in place to resolve them as quickly as possible. To do this your staff need as much information about the customer as possible as soon as possible. This avoids the need to keep customers waiting, transferring them to other departments, asking them the same questions over and over or misunderstanding their issue. We’ve all been customers and we’ve all experienced the frustration of flaky customer service.
A CRM system will hold all the vital information your staff need to understand and help the customer from their first contact. This means speedier resolution, fewer irritated customers and a higher likelihood they will use your service again or recommend you.
5. You’re struggling to analyse your customer data
Do you know how many sales leads your team are following up at the moment? How many customers are repeat customers? What did they buy? How many sales are a result of your last marketing email? This is the kind of data which will tell you where to invest your resources to enable you to grow your business. If your data is spread out in several locations, spreadsheets or email inboxes you aren’t going to be able to get a full view of your customer base or the results of your marketing or sales techniques.
In addition, if your communication isn’t managed from a single CRM database you run the risk of breaching new, far stricter GDPR legislation which is clamping down on the way businesses use customer data. For example, if a customer expresses that they do not want to be contacted by your company to one of your staff, how can you ensure everyone else in the business is aware? If that customer receives further communication this not only damages trust and your reputation, but could land you with a hefty fine.
6. Your customers are not returning
A customer who does not return to use your service has vital information. Something has gone wrong and you need to find out what in order to stop it happening again in the future.
CRM software makes this really easy to do. Not only is it really easy to run customer satisfaction surveys, you’ll be able to find out how your customers prefer to be contacted, what products they’re interested in and possibly even what they’re planning to purchase in the future. When you can exceed customer expectations and treat them as an individual it’s more likely they’ll return or at least recommend you to a friend.
7. You’re running a business on the move
The most recent CRM software meets the needs of modern businesses which need to be able to function from anywhere. Cloud-based internet means businesses are no longer tied to software installed on desktops; if you have an internet connection anyone can access their CRM system from anywhere.
So if your staff need to be able to access and update customer records out in the field, at an event, after a meeting or when working from home, Cloud-based CRM is a no brainer. It enhances collaboration, accuracy and means your business can move forward quicker.
Finding the Right CRM System
The best news about CRM for small business owners is that there are free packages on the market. They offer no contract, basic solutions which can be upgraded further down the line as your business grows.
If you are looking for a more substantial system, CRM can be as basic or as bespoke as your business needs it to be. Generally, a CRM software package is priced based on the number of users or staff members who need access to it. Rather than a one off cost, you will usually pay a monthly subscription with a minimum contract period. The functionality of the software will also impact the price with the most complex systems costing more as you would expect. Most suppliers will offer standard or bespoke options so you can choose the right system for your needs without paying for unnecessary features.
You can find out more about the types of CRM software on the market and compare the UK’s leading CRM providers through independent comparison and resource websites like www.whatcost.co.uk.