There is no question as to the importance a solid CRM application plays in a firm's overall business strategy. But just having the best-of-breed CRM app doesn't mean that you've connected all the dots in the end-to-end customer experience. Having your CRM integrated at the record level with your client-specific data will enhance not only the interactions with your clients, but also aid in predictive up-selling and retention initiatives.
CRM strategy in a nutshell
Strategic Process – The CRM should be the lifeline between the various departmental silos and data sharing across the organization should be done through the same interface and portal. This should not be restricted only to "organizational functions," but should aid in developing a "customer-centric" company by allowing all departments to access and contribute to client data.
Selection – Internal resources are scarce, requiring an organization to be selective in the use of time, money, and personnel. The resource selection and allocation process is enhanced through the CRM by assigning resources based on the economic value, and potential economic increase of the customer. How can you quickly determine the customer value without all relevant customer info available through the CRM?
Interactions - Exchange of information, goods, and services between the customer and vendor evolves as a function of past interactions and predictive offerings. Customers can no longer be looked at as isolated individuals consuming a product or service, but rather, potential advocates or enemies of a brand, based on their perception and opinion of the last experience they had with your service.
Customers – A "customer-centric" company knows that end-users are not the only important individuals requiring attention. There are always intermediaries such as distributors, partners, resellers, and integrators who should be included in the various targeted customer segments. Fine-tuning of segmentation strategies will help target individual customers with customized product offerings based on previous purchases, type of customer segment and demographic data.
Optimizing current and future value - Maximizing customer lifetime value is dependent on the information available quickly and efficiently through the CRM application. This includes service agreements, quotes, proposals, Statements of Work, SLAs …and the list goes on. By having this type of data dynamically retrieved through the CRM record will arm the customer-facing departments with the necessary info to increase the quality of the interaction and add value to the customer's experience. By seeing the types and details of the client's documents, the representative can quickly make more efficient decisions about the current situation based on the past services and future offerings suitable to the client.
Why wouldn't I just store the client-related documents in the CRM application?
- CRM applications are rarely compliant with many of the regulatory entities governing document-intensive industries such as legal, financial services, healthcare, and insurance. Client's sensitive data needs to be protected in a secure, compliant, yet retrievable format through the CRM.
- Trying to be everything to everyone has never worked. CRM applications do not specialize in document and email management. This translates to higher storage costs and reduced functionality when working with documents. Where does the CRM store your data? What disaster recovery tools are built into their service? What security procedures and regulations are in place surrounding the data? …a few simple questions and you'll know that CRM is what they do best, not DMS.
- A document management system will have reasonable storage fees, coupled with a robust set of work-in-progress document features, including external collaboration portals, document history tracking, ethical walls, versioning, alerts, Microsoft Suite integrations, client-centric workspaces, and customizable configuration settings.
In summary, a CRM with the ability to quickly retrieve relevant client documents from within the CRM user interface will enhance the depth and quality of the customer's interactions with your company. This will increase internal productivity and efficiency through time saving data retrieval, and cross-departmental information sharing. This ability should not be achieved at the expense of a secure and compliant document management solution… yes, you can have your cake and eat it too!
Developing an efficient and coherent CRM strategy requires planning, organization, and a well defined process to manage the interactions and data surrounding every customer. While this may require some time and attention, these are necessary steps to ensure the customer is engaged in a positive dialogue. …and, as you know, the dialogue about your company is happening with or without you; feedback is constantly flowing from consumer's mouths, and fingertips, and organizations go to "the chopping block" everyday through the numerous outlets of communication. One negative experience can go viral and spiral, highlighting the importance of having all the client-related data available at the front lines of the customer interaction.
Post written by Marriott Murdock or the NetDocuments marketing team. He can be reached on Twitter at @MarriottMurdock