Four Keys to Customer Relationship Management

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a strategy used to handle customer interactions with a company. The most common type of CRM program is a rewards card at a grocery store. Here, customers get a free card that gives them access to special deals and the company gets to track everything their customers buy so they can create targeted marketing campaigns. When you're planning your own CRM program, there are important keys to keep in mind.

Understand Your Goal

Image via Flickr by Fort Rucker

Before you even choose a CRM program, it's important that you can fully articulate what your goals are for the program. Are you trying to improve sales averages? Are you looking to decrease customer retention costs? There are programs that can achieve these goals on their own or altogether. Therefore, it's important that you can define and communicate exactly why you're implementing the program and what you want to gain.

Choose a Customizable Program

All business owners will agree that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to any problem a business faces. This is also true when choosing a CRM program. When you're picking out the best program, it's important to consider one that you can customize to meet your exact needs. For example, some programs let you pick only the features you need. Additionally, other packages allow add-ons like plug-ins and extensions as your program grows and your needs change.

However, in the end, it's important to focus on your requirements over technology. While it's easy to get dazzled with the latest in CRM technology, keep in mind that one study showed that 32 percent of sales technology projects made little use of the technology available to them.

Put Together the Right Team

To run a successful program, you need more than money; you need a well-rounded team. Not only does this include IT staff and project managers, it also includes sales people. Ideally, at least 30 percent of your CRM team should include people from marketing and sales. These are the people who can make sure you meet all the requirements of a successful CRM program and effectively communicate the changes throughout the organization.

Be Prepared to Change and Improve

Once you start your CRM program, you must constantly monitor its progress. Some of the tactics you try will succeed and some will fail. What's important to your long-term success is understanding why those tactics failed and using that knowledge to change the program accordingly. Additionally, even with the best CRM program, there will be times when your customers become frustrated. When this happens, it's important to get feedback from your customers so you know exactly what went wrong. Then, you need to focus on fixing the real problem instead of just fixing the symptoms of the problem.

When you're putting together a customer relationship management program, make sure you keep these important tenets in mind so you have the most successful program possible.