The Very Basics of Customer Relationship Management [CRM]

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You have probably heard about this term, CRM or Customer Relationship Management. When I was curious to know more about it, I read not less than 15 articles, blog posts and discussed it with friends. I could get a hang of it but believe you me, none could give a comprehensive explanation to be understood by an SME or convince me to evaluate this for personal business. I will try to explain the same so that you get it effortlessly. No jargons promised.

When most people think of ‘technology’, ‘information’ or ‘CRM’, they think about software and complexities to manage the software. Let’s not forget that CRM starts with ‘Customer’.

For any business, small or big, one thinks of getting the numbers through sales. If you dig deep, salesmen job is to acquire and maintain customers, get new and repeat orders, convince customers with customizing offerings according to needs. Nonetheless, your business is doing the same.

crm

What it does?

List down the activities that you perform to get those numbers running on the charts.

You will get some information about a potential customer from some source (like referrals, trade shows, website, etc). This information can be a name, phone number, email address or anything. You note it down in your diary or save it in your mobile phone for ready reference. You may call this ‘a lead’.

Then you would want to call up the lead, fix some meetings, discuss plan of action and would like to convert it to a customer. During the process, if it is a big organization, you may have to contact several people to get the orders and payments (like Sales Manager, accounts or even the business owner). This involves certain meetings, documentation (like invoicing and credit notes), keeping contacts of various people which you may note in your diary or maintain excel sheets to organize your data.

The process usually goes on forever. You would like to make a central record of all this information which you may want to refer each time. Maintaining excel sheets isn’t a good way if you want to maintain relations. Excel sheets might tell you about the transactions but cannot tell what happens before or after that.

This information becomes very useful as your company turns big and relationships grow. The problem arises when the sales team grows bigger and individuals need to coordinate and collaborate information. And it is likely that the business owner (or you) is not the only person who would like to review information all the time.

You would not only like to store it at a safe place but would also like to share it with your sales team. You may want to hide some information as well.

A CRM makes all this, a simpler process for you. Think of your own business, it may not be using a technology, not even excel sheets, but there is a system in place to get the orders, deliveries and get cash inflows.

Is CRM for you?

If you have a business that has 1 to 300 employees, you have sales representatives that constantly look for new customers and keep existing ones satisfied. You may or may not have marketing department but you may generate some activities (sales promotions, trade shows, conferences) as an effort to transform leads into customers. Do you have a way to measure the effectiveness of such efforts and make it better?

For now, imagine a user interface to which you can log in by clicking on an icon on your desktop. You can store all the information and manage detailed intricacies of your business through this. Input all the information through an easy interface just like you enter into your diary, phone or excel sheets. The only difference is that this system is a lot easier and you won’t ever have to turn pages. Consider this as software which you call as “Customer Management”.

CM turns into a CRM when you use this facility to enrich and develop relations with your customer. Your marketing strategies can become a lot easier when you have detailed information about your customers. Segment them on basis of industry, turnover or any of their needs and target an attractive segment in few clicks. Customize offers according to customers’ needs and let your creativity design newer marketing strategies.

CM or CRM?

CM activities were about sales and profits. CRM activities do not revolve around Sales, but Customers. CRM captures information (sometimes automatically) about people who enter your website or come in through other sources like trade shows and referrals. The marketing department can then handover the leads to sales department for follow ups and sales.

CRM also allows you to automate process if you have a system in place. It can remind you to collect orders/payments from customers when required or maintain relations via automatic email shoots.

A Sales manager can allow sales representatives to log in with their unique IDs and make useful information available to them. This way, a manager can see a larger picture and security of leads is maintained among salesmen. Manager can also track the numbers and also review the individual targets.

Happy Customers

Think of this as a way of doing your business and not only a software tool to get maximum sales. Happy customers provide healthy business and hence manage relations not sales; with centralized view of information.

Thats what CRM is all about in a nutshell ! Your thoughts welcome !

  1. […] to keeping travellers informed about their flights in real time. While some airlines use it as a relationship building platform, other airlines are using it to reward customer loyalty. Increasingly, airlines across the world […]

  2. Jo Sidarta says

    Hi Satyam,

    Really good article, thanks for this

    Jo Sidarta

  3. Imran says

    Hi satyam,
    Very nicely explained, Thank you so very much.
    As I can see that you have got a very good knowledge of the subject & the current market, I’d really appreciate if you can answer couple of questions please.
    I’ve done MCA and working as Desk side support Engineer for an insurance company, I’ve got a decent experience of retail as well as call centre sales. I want to jump into CRM but i want to land up in a role which should not be too technical or too sales/marketing. Looking around different blogs on the internet i feel for SAP CRM.
    Can you please guide me to choose a right path, all i want to know is that what type of jobs are associated with CRM and the geographical job opportunities (mainly middle east and UK). Thanks.

  4. Rishabh Gupta says

    Nice content! Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. Jatin Kathuria says

    great article :) thanks.

  6. Linda Brown says

    Great article! I’d also recommend that you read this whitepaper http://www.intelestream.net/en/whitepapers/spreadsheets-to-crm.html.

  7. Matt at Intelestream says

    Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a key business philosophy that all businesses should have in place. Customers must be centralized in all interactions and a CRM technology supports this philosophy.

    CRM software will allow us to know when cusomers need help, how you have interacted with them in the past, and predict possible service products that may offer a resolution. Effective dialogue and solutions will definitely create loyalty and potentially new donors as well.

    Here’s some additional reading that will be useful: http://www.intelestream.net/en/whitepapers/whitepapers.html.

    CRM applications can be accessed online, with only a web browser and an internet connection. A simple and easy to use CRM solution, is intelecrm, get to know more at http://www.intelestream.net/intelecrm. The unique pricing model provides a flat fee for unlimited users. This means everyone in the Charity can be actively involved making a powerful tool for the whole organization.

    1. pradeep says

      Mr.. Satyam Gambhir hats off for all the info please guide me further. I am a sales gay a manager with 6 yrs experncce want to get in to IT pre sales or as a busyness analyst how can I learn ERP CRM what is the scope

  8. Satyam says

    Guys,
    CRM is even more simpler here!

    http://marketinomics.com/crm/crm-simplified/

    Try this out.

  9. Altaf Rahman says

    Thanks Satyam and Madhav,

    The importance of this documentation process is to stress the importance of System orientation of the company compared to person orientation.

    Suppose if the company had no documentation system, generally what happens is the Sales / Marketing guy has all data (either in his mind or personal records) and once he leavds company, the company has no info about the customers and what went betwen them.

    By documenting the interaction (officially its between two companies and not between two individuals) it has record of the same and any person replacing the guy who left, has backdrop of all the communication between two companies.

    The company becomes system dependent, not person dependent.

    One more point : Documenting of telecon : Some marketing guys in review meetings will boast of talking to many customers. (Some times it is false he did not talk to the person in the company or he did not discuss the issues claimed) Once company ask the marketing guy to document it, he can not claim false discussions for fear of being caught in case if another collegue approaches the customer with reference to the document.

  10. Madhav Shivpuri says

    I had not understood why CRM is such a big deal all these days. Good job Satyam and Altaf for making it easy for thick heads like even me understand this.

  11. Satyam says

    @praksh: Thanks for the appreciation.
    @altaf: your two paisa just made the article even easier to understand. Thanks! :)

  12. Altaf Rahman says

    A nice article on the subject of Customer.
    I am not great at writing on the subject but I would like to show my two paisa.

    In our company (Well !! Ex company) every interaction with customer (existing or new) had to be documented.
    The interaction was divided into the media over which the interaction took place namely, conversation over phone, mail correspondance, fax or a meeting. In all cases we document the interaction.
    For a telecon, we had Forms with crisp colums like Date, Customer company, name of person, designation, points discussed. This is just a document which goes for files but comes in handy 6 months down the line when we had to refer which person in a company we talked to.
    For a mail which is recieved, we make a copy, log it as incoming doc and file it. All correspondace thereafter goes in sequence.
    For a meeting, either at our place or their place, we make it a point to prepare a MOM (Minutes of meeting) and send it to the pther person. A copy of the transmittal is filed.

    All the above create a data base. May be for a SME all this looks cumbersome but that was the ISO procedure we had to follow for the department then.

    Just my two paisa :)

  13. Prakash pimpale says

    That is really great and simple introduction to CRM. Even a layman will also be able to get the broad picture of it. Thanks.

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