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Improving the three customer C’s; Communication, collaboration, competitiveness

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) isn’t just about installing a new piece of kit and watching it magically solve all your business problems. Successful deployment of CRM focuses around communication, collaboration and competitiveness.

Customers today have high expectations as well as easy access to social tools to voice opinions or ask for company and product recommendations. While ensuring a positive customer interaction in person is still important to build loyalty, the experiences that customers receive online are just as critical, and even more imperative are the interactions customers have with other customers.

Organisations looking to steadily increase brand loyalty and sales are quickly realising that CRM can now offer a compelling option for companies that want a better connection with customers.

Indeed, CRM today is moving to the point of mass adoption and fast being integrated within business process management in many organisations providing in turn a 360 degree view of your customer base.

At the same time, customers are looking for more than on-demand versus on-premise capabilities in their CRM solutions. They want mobility, integration, increased interoperability capabilities and a solution which manages processes, not just transactions.

Simply put, CRM is a business strategy…it’s not technology.

At the basic level it is good contact management, but if you extend the concept of CRM into your business it can be much more than managing who you contact, how you contact and when you contact. It becomes the way you manage processes, from the way you sell your products or service a customer, to the way your run processes internally.

So we can’t think that utilising CRM in your business is just a case of installing a new piece of kit and watching it magically solve all your business problems. I see a successful deployment of CRM as focusing around three key things.

1) Communicate.

Think ‘more haste, led speed’. Now’s the time to identify and connect with key stakeholders and really think about your business issues – what are you trying to solve?  For example, are you trying to improve efficiency or better understand your customers?

Once you’ve recognised those challenges you can begin to think in terms of measurements and identifying targets. This helps you develop clear strategic objectives and understand where you want to be, essential to proving the return on investment from your CRM.

2) Collaboration.

Interact with other areas of your business; you may discover things you’ve not thought of or get new ideas. Remember good collaboration can move CRM initiatives company-wide.

Enquiring outside of your department can help you recognise where you can link up processes to provide the best value for your customers and share knowledge.

3) Compete.

Of course you must spend time understanding the capabilities of CRM software packages but you must spend more time thinking about your own business. What are your core competencies compared to your competitors? How can your CRM make that competency even better? CRM can, of course improve your marketing function or empower your sales force, but successful CRM could be a whole lot more.

Look long and hard at your products, your staff and particularly your processes. Where can you improve? Where can you add leverage? And can you use them as business drivers to make your CRM support you and go further?

Today’s uncertain economy isn’t going to last forever. But the strength of the relationships that a company builds with its customer will endure. To succeed, organisations must adopt a ‘win on customer relationship’ business strategy in which they recognise the need to provide a superior experience at each customer interaction point, whether it’s during a sales discussion, a targeted and timed marketing campaign or during a customer service interaction – the focus has to be on providing on enhanced customer relationships otherwise you risk sending your customers to the competition.

What do you think?

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Charles Pludthura

Charles Pludthura

As the Head of Marketing for Sage Business Solutions in Australia and New Zealand, Charles is responsible for the development and delivery of Sage’s brand and marketing strategies for its six global software solutions in the Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island region. With over 11 years of corporate marketing experience with leading industry organisations in Australia, NZ and the UK, encompassing the software and services, education and retail sectors, Charles has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in propelling innovative businesses into the fast lane for sustained growth.

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