What Is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?
CRM is more than just a business buzzword. Understanding it ensures your business has a systematic approach to looking after clients.
Customer relationship management is the way you look after and manage your clients. You can think of it as your interactions with customers, as well as how you organize your workflows with them.
The idea is to design a set of practices that give your clients a great customer experience with you at every juncture. Whether that is having a nurturing marketing and sales process, to managing their documents in an organized way.
Having a more practical outlook on your customer relationships ultimately leads to a better business.
Happy clients = customer loyalty and good reviews. The dream trifecta!
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
What Are the 3 Types of CRM?
There are three core aspects of CRM that you’ll want to take into account when shopping for CRM software.
Analytics - Collection and Organization of Data
Instead of drowning in endless emails, you can streamline your customer’s information. This can also include macro views of your client relationships overall. For example, tracking how many repeat customers you have, or how many customer service tickets you answered in a given month.
This is all valuable information to you as a business owner in improving your service.
Operations - Streamlining Your Marketing, Sales and Service
This is the core appeal of CRM in general. How can we streamline our client interactions?
We want to save time and money as business owners. We also want to show up the best way possible for those we serve.
By systematizing your marketing, sales and service flow, you can optimize the performance of your business.
Maybe you have software that receives leads from potential customers and automatically sends a follow up email. This can cut so much manual labor out of your sales cycle.
Maybe you have a system that tracks your billed hours and sends invoices directly to the client - like ours!
A smooth-running business needs a solid customer relationship management workflow.
Co-Creation - Working Together
This is when your customer or another vendor can work together to complete a project. A very specific example is Aisle Planner that is aimed at wedding planners. As a CRM system, it has a client portal that allows the couple to input and upload information. The planner can then work with the couple in this online space.
The FreshBooks client management software in our hub also allows you to invite clients to collaborate on projects.
Why Is Customer Relationship Management so Important?
Most of us go into business not fully mapping out our customer relationship process. We kind of muddle through in the initial stages. That is completely normal. With few clients, you are figuring out what works best and the types of customers you attract.
How do they work best? What leaves them delighted?
But at some point, there is a need to up the ante and create a solid system to manage your client relationships. That could mean investing in some client management software or creating a business guideline for your CRM process.
It saves you time, in the long run, to have your CRM process defined. Having this guideline mapped out has so many benefits:
- You can more easily train new employees on your process
- You can measure what is working for your business and what isn’t
- You can organize customer data, documents and details to run their project more smoothly
- You can streamline your customer interaction process by using CRM software
- You are no longer relying on a backlog of emails or messy share drives to keep things organized
- You can build strong customer relationships and track customer success over time
How Do You Manage Customer Relationships? - CRM Software
About ten years ago, we had to manage everything via email. Do you remember those days?
You had to create digital or paper folders in your office to save important details. Maybe the process of your business projects were managed through a calendar.
We have come a long way now. There are now many powerful customer relationship management apps that simplify everything.
Each one has its merits, so how do you find the right option for you?
Finding the Right CRM Software for You
Finding customer relationship management software is easy.
Switching between customer relationship management systems is hard.
Once you have invested your time and energy in fully customizing a CRM software, you want to avoid switching again if you can.
Of course, you can always upgrade to other systems, but it does take a lot of effort to do. Particularly if you have long relationships with your clients that you want to track over many months (or years).
Here are some questions you want to ask when reviewing potential CRM systems:
- What is your customer lifecycle?
A great exercise is to physically write out your business processes.
Think of all sides:
- Sales funnel
- Marketing funnel
- Customer onboarding
- Main business activities
Are you alone? Do you have a marketing team? Maybe even sales managers?
Write it all down.
- What aspect of customer relationship management do you want to focus on?
Not all CRMs tackle each stage of the marketing, sales and service process from beginning to end.
Some have powerful lead generation tools, such as embedding a lead capture form on your website. This would be a sales-heavy CRM program.
On the other hand, there are integrated marketing solutions. These are CRM systems that act as an email marketing hub and social media management.
Others are more concentrated on the organization aspect. Having your customer data, invoices and documents centralized in one place. Our Cloud-Based CRM software focuses mostly on that.
It depends on what you want your CRM to help you with the most.
- What key features do you need?
Do you need software that helps you streamline many sales phone calls to your customer service representatives?
Do you need the ability to share files and documents directly with your customer to collaborate on their project?
Do you want email automation tools?
Do you need time tracking features built-in? Reporting features too?
Once you figure out the motive of your ideal software, the features are easier to figure out.
Not every system works for every type of freelancer or business owner. Only you will know the features you get the most use out of.
- Do you want/need an industry-specific CRM?
I mentioned the wedding planning example earlier. Some professional fields have CRM programs that are specifically tailored to their craft.
That’s not to say that you’ll like the system! You may prefer to work with a more generic interface that allows you to customize your workflows.
How do you want to work? Will the CRM product you are reviewing help you do that?
Customer relationships and customer satisfaction are paramount. You want your business to last through the test of time? Creating positive experiences is the way to go.
By using CRM software tools, you can automate and organize your customer journey. This leaves you with more time and energy to delight your clients in every way.
To find out more about our client management system to nurture relationships with customers, click here!