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Customer relationship management software is helping companies stay more connected with their clients than ever. Global CRM sales reached $26.3 billion, an increase of 12.3 percent the previous year, Gartner reported last year. More than 9 out of 10 companies with over 11 employees now use CRM, according to BuyerZone estimates. As CRM becomes standard, the technology is also growing more sophisticated, with Research and Markets projecting that CRM will increasingly become integrated with the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence-powered chatbots over the next five years. But no matter how sophisticated CRM technology gets, deploying it effectively still requires using sound strategies. Here are four ways you can combine CRM with effective techniques for empowering your customer service team and keeping your customers engaged.
Meet the Customer Where They Are in the Sales Cycle
One great advantage of CRM is that it enables you to see exactly where a customer is in the sales cycle. Trying to close before a customer is ready to buy is a cardinal mistake many sales representatives make. CRM lets you track the customer’s progress toward a purchasing decision precisely so you can gear your tactics accordingly to guide them to the next step of the process.
One way to help customers move toward a purchasing decision is to combine CRM with content marketing. Content marketing can help you attract customers’ interest, qualify their needs, present benefits and even pre-empt objections, laying the foundation for a more efficient close. A DemandGen study found that companies that use CRM to nurture leads developed through content marketing average a 20 percent increase in sales.
Personalize Your Presentation to Meet Customer Needs
Meeting your customer where they are in the sale is one example of how you can personalize your sales presentation to fit the individual customer. Another way is to match your sales interaction to your customer’s buying history and ordering habits. CRM analytics tools let you identify each customer’s unique buying pattern as if it were a “buyer fingerprint.” For instance, Bespoke Collection, a boutique wine company, uses CRM to appeal to the buying preferences of each individual customer. Bespoke tracks which types of wine customers like, how often they visit retail locations and tasting rooms and past purchases. This automatically enrolls them in the company’s rewards program and serves as a means of getting them to join Bespoke’s wine club.
Keep in Touch with Customers During Their Day
You can stay more connected with your customers if you keep in touch with them on an ongoing basis and not just during sales activity. One way to do this is by combining CRM with social media. For instance, Wells Fargo has emulated CRM provider Salesforce by setting up a social media command center to monitor mentions of its company on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This enables Wells Fargo to identify large-scale customer service concerns and develop proactive responses to them, as well as to engage individual customers voicing questions, concerns or complaints on social media. Wells Fargo also uses social media as a way of letting customers keep in touch with them on their smartphones no matter what they’re doing. In order to implement this strategy, you might consider equipping your customer service team with unlimited data plans from an affordable provider such as T-Mobile, empowering them to keep in touch with customers from any location at any time.
Follow Up with Customer Service
CRM can also enable you to integrate the sales process with customer service to boost customer satisfaction and promote repeat business. Video game provider Activision has implemented this approach by using CRM to extend customer service to players online, after discovering that most gamers prefer online service to traditional phone service. Activision uses Salesforce to monitor social media conversations about its products, identify game issues such as bugs that players are complaining about and address these concerns, including contacting individual gamers when appropriate. This has enabled Activision to develop content that enables gamers to handle 85 percent of their own customer service issues through self-service, cutting the company’s customer service expenses by 25 percent a year.