What Is Customer Relationship Management?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is partially about software but mostly about strategy.  A CRM strategy defines the process of interacting with your customers or clients in efforts to maximize the relationship for profitability.

The strategy typically involves three important functions in organizations: marketing, sales and customer service.

Marketing:  Today’s businesses scrutinize every dollar spent to generate business.  Gone are the days of mass mailing or faxing to large lists of contacts.  Targeted, specific marketing is essential to maximizing your Return On Investment (ROI).

Sales:  With centralizing prospect and customer databases and automating the routine sales tasks, most businesses are able to keep their salespeople in front of their customers or clients. Additional benefits include visibility to management and the organization of a centralized system.  From simple tasks of writing letters to sending emails and delivering proposals, a good system maintains each customer contact and communication to tell the whole story allowing fewer salespeople to service more prospects or customers.

Customer Service:  You’ve invested in marketing and earned customers or clients through your sales process – now you need to keep them happy.   All customer inquiries should be logged and handled efficiently.  Key clients or customers should have preferential treatment and issues should be escalated as appropriate.

In short, good customer relationships are at the heart of business success. There are many technological components to CRM, but thinking about CRM in primarily technological terms is a mistake. The more useful way to think about CRM is as a process that will help bring together lots of pieces of information about customers, sales, marketing effectiveness, responsiveness and market trends.


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