If you ask around, you will find that most business leaders probably feel that their organization could be a bit more polished and organized when it comes to how they currently manage customer relationships, both new and old. Managing new and current customers can certainly be a tedious process, largely involving a liberal helping of sent mail, cold calls, warm calls, data management and personal development. The constant stream of communication can get repetitive and tiring—fatigue that could cause you to forget to send that vital email or to follow-up on a developing lead. Truly stellar customer relationship management comes about when an entire organization is committed to the customer and their experience; it should already be the focus of your business. However, it is important to recognize a few key factors about modern customer relationship management to make your role more impactful and hopefully less mind-numbing than you might currently find it.
We’ve had a large frequency of inquiries about CRM software improvements; which poised our team on consultants to share some of the innovative techniques we’ve implemented — and helped others implement — to ensure that the business can properly, and efficiently, manage customer relationships. Enterprise software isn’t just for large corporations, and the possibilities for transformation and revenue growth with the help of tools like CRM that automate and track so many of the processes that are taking up your time currently. If you’re like many midmarket businesses seeking to modernize your customer engagement strategy through the use of software, here are few simple strategies that can get you started on the right path to easy customer relationship management.
Dynamic Tips To Help Manage Customer Relationships With Software
Respond Quickly Through All Channels Possible
Companies that successfully implement an agile and effective lead response strategy see increases in the probability of pipeline conversion. It’s pretty much common sense; the more you get yourself in front of a potential client and let them know about the value you can provide for them, the more likely you are to close a sale. If you’re successfully utilizing your marketing or CRM software, total follow-up can be a non-issue within your organization. You should be aiming to get back to leads within 5 minutes of their first interaction in some way—and even that may be stretching it. Without proper follow-up with every single lead, you will not be able to comfortably say that you did all you could to close that sale or get that client.
Download the PDF: 2014 Lead Response Report (Manage Customer Relationships)
In 2007, Dr. James Oldroyd published the Lead Response Management Study, which showed that company representatives have little time to respond before their leads become “cold,” and move on to the next prospect or product. This research found the odds of making a successful contact with a lead are 100 times greater when a contact attempt occurs within 5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes after the lead was submitted. Similarly, the odds of the lead entering the sales process, or becoming qualified, are 21 times greater when contacted within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes after the lead was submitted (Oldroyd, 2007).
Despite this study, rapid lead response (striking while the iron is hot) is a critical strategy many businesses still have not undertaken today. Today’s modern consumers use mobile devices to search, order, and retrieve goods and services in a moment’s notice from many locations, clicking through shopping carts in the blink of an eye. Those opportunities will move through the buying process from multiple devices – tablet, smartphone and desktop – for a single transaction from research to purchase. As such, it is imperative to invest in solutions to manage these changes in CRM with the same level of agility and modern innovation.
It is up to your account managers to accept this necessary challenge. Shrinking response lead time to an inquiry captures opportunity sooner, and keeps them even when they may get distracted or switch devices. You must be certain the CRM is updated in real time by users to follow your lead’s activity and their relative ‘temperature’, otherwise you will be losing those leads by not following up promptly in response to that activity, and how you manage customer relationships will become a worthless endeavor anyway.
Eliminate Wasted Steps (And Time)
Modern buyers are extremely busy and easily distracted, they have become hard-wired to expect a speedy and obstacle-free buying experience, no matter the device they are using. When it comes to the business side of that sales process, this kind of speed requires eliminating cumbersome steps and reducing waste throughout your entire sales cycle, whether it is customer-facing or happening in your back office. If possible, deter from arranging additional meetings. Make sure the meetings that do have to be completed are economical and speedy. Come to the table with solutions, no matter what—don’t just talk around a solution. The more you focus on delivering an actionable product or improvement to your customer, the faster and more positively those customers will respond (and return to you).
The majority of businesses that currently deploy an e-commerce system like Magento or a marketing application like Marketo, drive large pipeline static from automated solutions to a mass audience. If implemented and configured effectively, these can be key components to qualifying and delivering leads quickly and in real-time to better manage customer relationships. You can remind customers of abandoned shopping carts or file them into an email nurturing campaign that keeps them up-to-date about your business and keeps them ‘warm’ enough to re-enter your pipeline. Automate of all this lead management, and you’ll sudden find it’s much easier to manage customer relationships and focus on driving the marketing and enriching your service experience, not the boring rote work.
Generally,it’s left up to marketing to preside over pre-sales leads, inquiries and qualification. Depending on your company’s specific process and strategy, marketing will determine a length of time before the lead moves to an automated system which forwards information directly to the source’s contact information — a hands off process that is both consistent and viable. Eliminating steps in managing customers and automating much of the work that you may forget—and thus lose that lead—simply manages engagements more efficiently and takes much of the burden off your shoulders.
Configure CRM to Your Sales Process
CRM is often portrayed as easy to use—a kind of out-of-the-box magic potion—but in fact it can be a very complex process if you are rendering workflows internally, especially if your company has re-positioned itself in an upcoming or new market. You need to ensure that your CRM software supports an easier and more efficient sales process. Although customization and reconfiguration may seem like a large investment of time and resources, but you will more than make up for it in the saved time when your team members work within the CRM software. You need to be certain that how you manage customer relationships and data input does not slow the system down or convolute your process.
The CRM should be aligned to key selling workflows and constantly focused on your best practices and eliminating unnecessary data entries. Team members should be enabled to build templates, and other triggers, to move through selling steps much faster with simplicity. After all, if your sales associates find the software cumbersome to use, they simply won’t use it. Then, all you can be sure of is that the money you invested in the software is being wasted.
Incorporating modern techniques to assist with how you manage customer relationships involves an honest approach to educating all of your teams about your company’s brand and how it makes the difference in the lives of your target audience. This meaningful ideal about managing opportunities spreads and can be the key to highly successful business. When the whole organization from top to bottom is excited about your product and able to use your enterprise software easily, it only follows that you will better manage customer relationships—and keep them coming back for more.
Modern technology has made it easier than ever to manage customer relationships and prune waste and inefficiency from your sales pipeline. With the burden of follow-up, nurturing and routine engagement placed onto CRM or marketing automation, you have more time to focus on your product, your content, and fostering the kind of meaningful relationships with clients that will ensure they won’t consider anyone else for their business.
If your business is currently weighing in on an IT project or looking to streamline your own sales process and better manage customer relationships, contact our enterprise software experts to further discuss the merits of a move like this for your organization. We’ve successfully helped dozens of businesses make smarter decisions around IT software solutions. Visit our services page for more info.