Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – An Efficient Online Business Management Strategy

What is CRM?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a term that refers to the methodology and tools used to help manage a company or webpage’s customer, client, and sales relationships. Essentially, these strategies utilize technology to organize sales, marketing, and customer services, areas which are usually handled by various departments of a business, to solidify customer satisfaction, advocacy, and loyalty.

The Benefits of Using CRM

The goal of using CRM software solutions is to find, attract, nurture, and retain clients while at the same time reducing the cost of sales, marketing, and client services. This is particularly useful for small website based companies that have previously been unable to afford any significant marketing scheme, or that are interested in increasing their profit margins using inexpensive, and relatively simple, technology based strategies.

CRM Vendors - They Make CRM Work for Your Online Business

CRM Software Vendors provide relationship management software and other tools that help businesses track customer order history, data, payment histories, and customer-service calls. The follow are some of the technological tools that they offer that help with websites and online businesses:

Sales Force Automation (SFA) systems (i.e. sales forecasting, order management, sales lead tracking, and product knowledge) are CRM Vendor information systems that automate sales functions - automatically recording each stage of the sales process of each prospective client. This saves time and legwork, allowing small businesses to pursue more clients in less time than would otherwise be possible.

Another CRM Vendor tool is Marketing Automation. This software system is designed to simplify marketing by automating repetitive tasks in a way that increases efficiency and reduces the chance of human error. Basically these software programs keep track of all the customer contact and sales information (generally by tracking email, customer searches, social media, or traditional mail) so that it is easily accessible and allows a business to identify and target its best clients, and provide leads for sales personnel.

Customer Service and Support software are automatic routing systems (call routing, virtual help desks, and Web customer support portals) that CRM Vendors provide to automate basic customer service tasks as they simultaneously record customer requests, cases, and other service information. This permits a company real time information that it can use to improve customer service, attract new customers, and lower service costs.

Using Social Media Networks as a CRM Strategy

In addition to the above programs, there are quite a few Social Media Networks that can be used to give your online business exposure. Some of the most common Social Media Networks are Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Cyworld, and LinkedIn. Each of these web based CRM strategy networks provides an opportunity for small businesses to provide information that will be available to a series of individuals whom have been linked to your account, or who have done an internet search that put your page on the top of their search list.

Customer Relationship Management

How to Prepare for Implementing CRM

Before a business can successfully initiate a Customer Relationship Management strategy it has to have the three key elements: people, process, and technology.

The people in an online business are fewer than those that comprise a large enterprise, but they still need to work in a way that promotes organization, collaboration, and open communication. Even if it is a one horse show, the business will need to work in this way for its customers to leave with a satisfactory experience that will have them coming back for years to come.

Although many of the above mentioned systems have technological components, a foundation of good business processes is what the system will work around. If that is done, then any system that is implemented will be a means to better care for clients, resulting in winning and satisfying your online business’ customers.

The right technology (computers, phones, faxes, etc.) should be in place and determined adequate to the needs of the automated strategy and software that will be implemented. Once that is done, the company can begin to set-up their CRM systems.

Things to Keep in Mind

A company planning to set-up an online automotive service will be dealing with the personal information of many customers, and potential customers. The company should make sure to have a Privacy and Data Security System in order to protect that information, and ensure their clients privacy.

Online CRM Software

Some companies like offer free trials for their online customer relationship management software. These companies give you the advantage of trying out the software first before you make the commitment to buy. There are even some open source CRM solutions available if you have a Programming team and you would like to make modifications to the software to fit your exact needs.

Hosted CRM

Most of the CRM software solutions available can be hosted online giving the advantage of being able to access the data from any computer and also making it far easier to integrate the CRM software into your hosted website so you can directly add new data and statistics into the database without having to do an import for each update. This gives real-time customer management, something that is extremely important if your sales have spikes during certain seasons i.e. holidays like Christmas, and Valentine ’s Day or Black Friday (the Friday following Thanksgiving)

Specialty CRM Software

There are also CRM Software packages that specialize in particular fields. One field that uses these packages is automotive sales. Automotive crm software helps to keep track of past clients to assist in repeat sales, as well as identifies in sources of leads. Instead of waitiing for someone to come to your car lot Automotive CRM Software helps you sales team keep busy bringing in new customers.

Another example of a specialty use for CRM in in event planning. While this isn't sales in a direct manner. It does still require tracking venders, atracting attendees and car show participants. Event CRM is just as crucial to a successful business as Automotive or Business CRM is for other businesses. 

Now that you are familiar with the options available you are ready to decide which one is best suited to your online business needs!