Developing Products That Meet Customer Needs
Businesses often rely heavily on customer feedback to develop or change products and services to position themselves to be more competitive. But evolving your business from a company that simply develops products and services to an organization that listens and quickly responds to feedback can be difficult.
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Every executive needs accurate and timely information to make critical business decisions. That’s what makes a progressive Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Strategy so necessary.
CRM can provide executives with immediate information regarding company performance, historical trends, future trend analysis and cost savings, all critical to attracting interest from outside parties. C2CRM, for example, can provide a wide array of analytical data based on real-time activities to assist in presenting an appropriate and accurate picture of the business by leveraging the fully integrated IBM Cognos Business Intelligence Tool. This information can help executives make presentations which include LESS speculation about the business and MORE pertinent data. As a result, outside parties will get accurate and impressive information with which to make informed investment decisions.
Developing a solid CRM strategy is more than just installing a CRM solution and expecting it to "work its magic." It involves identifying where your problem areas are and shaping your CRM strategy to fix those problems. It is recommended that this process be done in stages as opposed to all at once. When you identify a problem that can be solved with CRM - FIX IT, then move on to the next one. Before long, you will see improvements in productivity, sales, efficiency, reporting and ultimately profits.
During the implementation of a CRM system, executives MUST be engaged in the process. When the senior-level managers in the organization embrace the changes and promote them throughout the organization, implementation and success of a CRM system will yield the highest benefits.
Finding Ways to Cut Costs
When properly implemented, a CRM solution can gather critical points of information from multiple sources within the business to provide a high-level or granular report of data that can remove the guesswork from decision making and solve some of the common pains often experienced by executives.
With a powerful CRM in place, your marketing efforts can be more easily tracked. You can instantly identify what promotions and marketing initiatives are working. If you have a marketing campaign that is bringing in quality leads that are turning into sales, you can identify that success rate through measured reports inside the system. As a result, you can spend your marketing dollars where you are getting a return and stop spending them in areas that get little or no results.
CRM arms the sales team with comprehensive information before and during the selling process. As sales team members follow up on leads in the CRM, they can access specific data regarding the lead. Then, as the sales process continues, the sales person can keep accurate record of objections, issues and tasks undertaken during the sales process. When its part of the CRM, this information is accessible by everyone else in the organization, allowing them to help with the sales process and potentially shorten the sales cycle.
CRM can help:
A CRM can provide executives with real-time snap shots of information in the sales funnel. This data consists of suspects, prospects, leads, opportunities and other sources of potential or recurring revenue. Executives can access this information instantly to see exactly what sales opportunities await. The data can be viewed at a high level such as by country or territory, to individual representative. The key to this data is that it is active and current.
For example: Using C2CRM, an executive can access a custom dashboard to company data. This dashboard would show a wide range of information pertaining to the business. For the CFO, it means instant information on company sales potential and customer service efficiency which can help to isolate costs that can be reduced. For the marketing executive, it is a window to lead status from a marketing campaign which can help guide decisions for future initiatives. For the CEO, it's an immediate source of the state of the business which is accurate and fresh.
Developing New Customers
This seems to be one of the most common pain points for executives in today's unstable business environment. Efforts to cut costs often take the form of layoffs, hiring freezes, pay cuts, expense policy changes, budget cuts and more.
An Executive View of CRM
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Statistically, most businesses lose half of their customers every five years. And, it costs five times more to attract new customers than it does to retain current ones. Clearly, customer defections are a common pain. The question is WHY are those customers leaving? It is typically related to dissatisfaction and lack of customer loyalty. These two critical factors can cause tremendous pain for an organization, ultimately leading to lost revenues.
CRM can provide immediate feedback regarding customer satisfaction that can help you make decisions to improve customer retention. This is also true about product development. Through the use of real-time, regular surveys, you can determine which product features or service offerings are not meeting your customers’ expectations. This vital feedback can be addressed in future product releases to improve customer satisfaction. When you evolve your products to meet the changing needs of the marketplace, you put your business in the position to lead instead of follow.
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Recent corporate scandals and improper reporting have created a higher concern for accurate forecasting. Information for forecasting comes from your business’ salespeople, who must provide an accurate picture of their pipelines, opportunities and lost deals. Executives, however, should not completely rely on individual reports from each salesperson to develop a forecast. Unfortunately, manually created reports often have missing or incomplete information. The result: inaccurate forecasts that hurt the business.
Providing Accurate Forecasts
By automating time-intensive functions and streamlining workflow and processes, CRM can control costs and save time so it can be spent on revenue-generating activities.
For sales reps, an application such as C2CRM can create quotes and proposals in a matter of minutes, not days or weeks. The result? Less time creating documents and more time selling.
For your marketing organization, CRM can automate everything from audience segmentation to creation of print collateral.
For customer support, representatives have access to customer histories and knowledge-base articles that can help resolve issues quicker. This shortens the length of support calls, decreases costs and improves support representative efficiency.
Higher levels of customer loyalty start with quality customer support. However, to provide high-quality support, your organization must be able to maintain accurate, timely and pertinent information about every customer. A CRM tracks what every customer is buying and develops a trend analysis to help you market to them in a more targeted fashion.
Another factor which affects customer loyalty is quality support. When a customer calls your company for support, a fast and accurate resolution to their problem increases their satisfaction as a customer. When the customer calls and your support representative has current customer information to refer to, the likelihood of an efficient call is dramatically improved.
Getting new customers can be a business’ most expensive process. Combine marketing costs, public relations, pricing promotion costs and other expenses, and winning new business can be overwhelmingly expensive. Then, when sales start to slide, companies tend to decrease marketing programs in the interests of saving costs. Ultimately, that spending decrease solves short-term problems but causes issues in the longer-term as the business can lose momentum in the market.
Finding new means to enhance company growth to build for tomorrow is a daunting task. However, companies that invest in technology to become customer-centric can position themselves to be more competitive and driven by the needs of the customers, ultimately increasing revenues and attracting new partners.
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