Sage CRM Customer Lifecycle

[fluid][html tag_image_style=”imagestyles-23″]Every day, employees come in, sit at their workstation, and put in their 8-hour commitment to their employer.  Customer Service reps field calls for various issues; Salespeople work leads; Marketing works hard to inform customers and acquire new leads; and Account Managers do their best to retain accounts.  Each department is naturally inclined to field their respective issue, and handle it accordingly until the business need grows for a particular department to expand.  Customer satisfaction levels, sales growth year over year, and marketing ROIs all fluctuate based on various external factors. This is typical for most businesses that adopt what can be called a “reactive” business model.

In a reactive world, each respective department within a company simply reacts to the issues, situations, and prospects that are brought to them.  The issues, sales leads, and customers are all cared for in each department’s respective manner, but beyond that most interaction ceases until the next item comes down the pipeline.

This begs a couple of key questions. How can employees seek out unknown issues, untapped leads, and hidden sales potential? And furthermore, how can employees in various departments of an organization consistently deliver that type of proactive performance?

Two very crucial elements inside any organization can drastically deliver consistent and proactive performance for an organization’s employee base in any industry. The first step is taking a look at the organization’s culture from being a reactive model to a proactive one. The other would be empowerment through software systems that utilize a collaborative platform that connects the front office to the back office.

It might seem simple, but shifting an organization’s operations model from reacting to inquiries to being proactive about customer service issues and acquiring sales is not an easy task.  In most cases, the “how” remains unclear as businesses are confused how to make that transition. To them, step one of the process is just as obscure and seemingly impossible to grasp as the final step. In addition to that, what software solution could even offer such a comprehensive approach to altering an organizations culture?

Enter the Customer Relationship Management (or CRM in today’s acronym driven reality) software solution. CRM systems by default encompass customer service, marketing, and sales departments under one roof, but the best CRM systems go beyond that to integrate to other systems such as accounting, warehousing, office administration, etc. A CRM system that has the capability to be the central repository for all customer documentation, communication, and collaboration can become that needed element to establish cohesion inside of an organization and cultivate that proactive approach to doing business.

It almost sounds too good to be true, right? Thankfully, it’s not just smoke and mirrors or some parlor trick. Modern CRM suites have the capability to address a broad spectrum of business needs while unlocking the potential to revolutionize the way an organization does business. Sage CRM is a great example of a CRM system that addresses the base needs of the Sales, Marketing and Customer Service departments while providing the needed points of integration to connect to accounting and other enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. The capability to integrate external systems and databases so that data from those systems can flow seamlessly to and from one another is a key feature needed to successfully link an organization’s front and back office.

After it links the front and the back office, how does a CRM suite then go the extra mile and cultivate a proactive culture within the workplace? Most CRM suites are built on sophisticated databases, and those built on SQL databases have the ability to monitor database activity. From there, administrators can set parameters to trigger an automated action or sequence of actions without any manual intervention whatsoever.

As an example, CRM systems can be told to let various departments like sales, marketing, account management, and/or customer service know when a customer has not been contacted in a certain timeframe (30 days, 45 days, 60 days, etc). When sales, marketing or customer service know that a customer has not been contacted within that threshold – a CRM system can notify the people or group of people assigned to that customer and even provide a list of tasks to that department or specific individuals. Salespeople can reach out to conduct needs analysis to address additional sales opportunities. Customer service has the opportunity to identify issues that may exist prior to those issues blowing out of proportion or becoming a pain point for the customer.  Marketing can have a similar opportunity to target the same customer base to garner interest on new products or services that are being offered without bombarding customers or winding up in a spam folder.  By simply identifying customers that have not had any communication in a specific threshold, businesses have the opportunity to thrive.

Note the keywords from the above paragraph… CRM systems provide opportunities to empower its staff – to go to the problem rather than wait for it to crop up in their inboxes.  Please keep in mind, this is just one instance of how a CRM can empower various departments within an organization. Imagine an extendable solution that could address other business needs such as auditing, accounts receivable, quality assurance, or even processes that are unique to any given business out there. By choosing the right CRM, companies can address and remove many barriers at once with one solution. By choosing the right CRM that addresses business needs and is extendable to encompass other parts of the organization – the possibilities are endless.

Knowing which CRM is best for an organization is half the battle, and also where consultants like myself come into play. We know the market, we know the players (big and small), and we can not only tailor a CRM system to an organization but we can help avoid costs from making bad investments in software. In my next article, I will address CRM deployments, what not to do, and key factors needed to increase the success of deployment of new software in the workplace.[/html][/fluid]