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  • Writer's picturePat Browne

CRM will define success through this pandemic and beyond.

CRM is more than automated marketing.

You’ve managed to get your ecommerce site built. You’re filling up the sales funnel from the top, but your investment is not paying off the way you expected. Is it just growing pains? Or are you missing something important?

At the beginning of the pandemic many organizations scrambled to change from bricks-and-mortar to something that could fulfill customer orders through ecommerce. From Shopify to enterprise specific ecommerce sites, the race was on. But the build is only part of the story.

Full circle customer service and ecommerce requires a robust CRM (customer relationship management) system to ensure that you get maximum ROI from your investment. And you don’t have to be a large multi-national corporation to benefit from, or afford, a CRM system.

CRM systems are a category of integrated, data-driven software solutions that improve how you do business with your customers. A CRM solution will help you manage customer relationships, track sales leads, marketing, pipeline, all while delivering actionable data.

The various options for CRM are as myriad as there are days in a year. CRM solutions contain all the data you need to develop, improve and retain customers. Without the support of an integrated CRM solution, you may miss growth opportunities and lose revenue because you’re not optimizing your operating processes or making the most of your customer relationships or sales leads.

CRM systems are not exclusively automated marketing systems – although they are used for this. They also can handle “bad” news emails due to disrupted supply chains and delivery issues. This is especially true during Covid where supply lines have been stretched or down-right broken. What happens when you’ve made a sale, but your supply lines are not working as before? Do you reach out to your customers to tell them that their order is delayed, especially when you don’t actually know when supplies will return to normal? Are your salespeople trained to handle the frustration and angst these situations create?

Yet without this type of handholding, you may not have a business when this current pandemic is over. CRM is not just selling to an existing client-base, it can also be the system that holds the hands of clients that are becoming more and more frustrated by lack of communication and busy signals.

Here are two case-study examples of organizations that may be in trouble if they do not develop effective CRM programs. Both enterprises are high-touch businesses that require a commitment from their consumers to survive.

Example 1: high-end furniture retailer

In this example, one of Canada’s prestige furniture and carpet retailers has written orders over 8 months ago. Under normal circumstances, the consumer’s order would be delivered within 12 weeks. Now going on 8 months, the retailer has not communicated with the customer, phone calls are going unanswered, trust has been broken. Secondary orders that would have been placed have gone elsewhere.

Example 2: high-value exercise equipment retailer

In this example, the retailer managed to move all product online, however again, once a purchase was made, the retailer essentially ghosted their customer. No thank you for your purchase letter, no emails to indicate expected delivery dates, no response to phone calls. Multiple additional purchases were directed elsewhere as trust was eroded.

The importance of a CRM system cannot be overstated.

CRM is not a simple process of outbound email or digital marketing (although that is part of it). It is the face of your organization to your consumers. In the above two examples, had either retailer been more responsive, customers would be willing to accept the delays as part of the pandemic. Instead, other retailers that have managed to provide follow-up service benefited from additional orders.

CRM is crucial because:

1. It creates a bond with your customers. A current customer is much more likely to repurchase from a retailer they have a relationship with.

2. When you make your customers feel welcome and cherished even after a purchase, they too start feeling loyalty towards your brand

3. Since your brand image is already created before all this even begins, customers will have something to relate to or look up to when they make multiple purchases.

4. More importantly, when you maintain a strong bond letting the customers know they are valued, the customers become your friend.

5. With prolonged good customer relationship management, customers feel obliged or happy to advocate your brand to others and that’s how your business rises to success and permanence.

Don’t miss out on revenue

A CRM system will remove much of the busy work from your organization. They send emails, address legal issues, take up calls, and create reports. Most importantly, CRM means that you are managing the customer relationship, not abandoning your customers to the next organization.

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