In today’s businesses, implementation of Customer Relationship management processes and system solutions (CRM systems) for automated management of these processes are essential. Given the fact, markets dictate dynamics, and activities necessary to be taken from company employees for better adaptation of products and services to meet customer requests.
The complexity for managing customers is greater in businesses, due to the fact they are operated by multiple departments and maintain a large customer base. Special cross-functional teams, consisting of team members from different departments are responsible for establishing processes, which will ensure customer satisfaction.
It is very important to be noted that all of these activities, and all of these processes are a big burden for companies who implement customer relationship processes without proper support from an automated solution for process management.
What is Customer Relationship Management?
CRM (customer relationship management) is a set of processes necessary to be followed by companies or businesses to manage customers. Customer Relationship Management is usually handled by the marketing department in the company, assuring customers’ full life cycle is being taken care of.
While the Marketing department (Product Marketing) creates products and services for implementation in CRM systems, it is Sales and Customer service who are the main users of the business management system.
CRM management processes are implemented in businesses with an aim to standardize core processes such as: acquisition, retention and after sales processes. All of these processes are maintained within a company or a business with a final goal to increase customer satisfaction and deliver results as defined in marketing strategy.
In order for these processes to be effectively managed and to be efficient, implementation of software solutions is needed. With implementation of appropriate metrics and definition of KPI (key performance indicators), the system should provide a solution for accurate and timely client behaviour monitoring, in terms of preferences and usage of products and services offered by the company.
When After Sales Processes are supported by CRM solution, the data which is provided about all customer requests and complaints, entered by either Sales or Customer Service, should be compared to SLA (Service Level Agreement). This will ensure all standards are being met and would propose corrective action, if needed. The data which is provided by Business Intelligence reports should be used for better and thorough customer relationship management, as well.
What are CRM systems?
CRM systems are a technical solution, a direct result of the benefit of information technology, helping in easy, timely and efficient processing of customer requirements. It is an automated process, in which customer requirements are used as input for the completion of their specific or standard requests.
Therefore, CRM systems consist of complex processes, handling inputs from one employee to another and transferring each input into an output for Business Intelligence reports.
Customer relationship management (CRM) supports dealing with the company’s customers in marketing, sales, service, and new product development. A CRM system gives a business a unified view of each customer and its dealings with that customer, enabling a consistent and proactive customer relationship.
For the fact that CRM systems are constructed to automate CRM management processes, they can be composed of several modules. Each module would represent each process. It is a very important one to understand; each process can consist of a number of subset of processes.
It is upon the company’s top management decisions which customer processes are going to be implemented into automated solutions. This also depends on the market situation, market requirements, budgets and company strategy and plans.
Taken all the above points into consideration, CRM systems are usually consisted of the following main parts (modules):
- Sales and sales processes (Sales automation)
- Processing of marketing activities (Marketing automation)
- Customer Support (Customer Service)
- After Sales processes (Defect tracking and Complaint management)
- Knowledge Management.
Sales and sales processes (Sales automation)
CRM systems have the greatest impact on sales automation or sales processes. With assistance of CRM systems and implementation of Sales processes, the Sales force customer requests’ executions are completed within minutes. This ensures company to provide its services and products to their customers quickly, efficiently and with visible quality.
It is not a myth that sales departments have the greatest needs and requirements for implementation of tools for monitoring sales processes and their KPI. The automation of Sales processes does not affect only the business complex Sales structure (usually divided into Direct Sales and Business Sales) however its partners (Indirect Sales).
It is a challenge for one to work on Sales automation and succeed in doing this for all Sales channels via the same CRM system.
Processing of marketing activities (Marketing automation)
CRM systems are one of the basic tools carrying out the implementation of marketing campaigns and products and services, available to potential and existing customers. Campaigns, products and services are implemented from the Product Marketing department.
After successful product-development process, and launch of the product or service – use, activation, selling and offering are available to the first line (Sales and Customer service agents). This allows agents via an automated process to handle customers’ requests for the respective product or service. This enables businesses to conclude contracts in the moment when the actual customer request is given.
Customer Support (Customer Service)
Companies today understand how important it is to have a Customer Service department. Whether companies use their own or outsourced Customer Service, they know the essence of providing top-notch customer support.
As some of you may know, or may have experience with, the Customer Service department usually is available to its customers 24 hours per day, seven days a week.
While customer service is a complex field, and managing a customer service requires a lot of hands-on details and people skills, the training and CRM systems used are essential to ensure customer requests handling and processing.
Tracking defects and complaints (Defect tracking and Complaint management)
Defect tracking and complaint management usually is handled by at least two departments in today’s companies, Sales and Customer Service. Collection of complaints and handling them with their complex diversity would be a headache without a CRM system. While Sales and Customer Service collect customer complaints, it is another department that solves them. However, the process for solving customer complaints doesn’t end here.
The department for complaint management has its own processes as well. Employees in this department need to communicate efficiently with other departments throughout the company ensuring all SLA (Service Level Agreements) are met per particular customer segment.
Structuring of customers according to their segment should be implemented in the CRM, queuing them up for resolution as defined in SLA.
With CRM system implemented and used, the processing time reduces. Handling via automated CRM systems of all complaints and customer requests would increase customer satisfaction over time.
Knowledge Management (Knowledge management)
There is no successful business or company that does not manage knowledge of their employees. Knowledge about systems, processes, services and products is the reason businesses move fast and forward. businesses and companies perform multiple activities throughout a year to advance knowledge of employees. However, taken into consideration the dynamics of market movements and competition knowledge management has shifted from traditional one.
Knowledge management is also an integral part of the CRM system. This ensures the first line has all needed information to perform their daily tasks and activities, either for customer-related processes or operations’ processes.
Implementation of knowledge management in the CRM system is especially important. By allowing first line and all other concerned parties throughout the company easy and quick access to information, customer-related processes are accelerated. This provides a business or a company with the opportunity to maximize their output and meet targets given by management.
Companies that are determined to establish control over its operations, to optimize its resources and increase customer satisfaction, are necessary to implement CRM systems and Customer Relationship Management processes.
Without these systems and processes, the functioning of today’s companies is almost impossible and servicing a large client base. CRM systems are a central point where it is: collected, stored, and processed information about customers. The data is used by company departments in need for specific information.
A company without a CRM system, would be almost impossible to process and monitor a large customer base and timely to respond to market signals and competition.