We’ve recently adopted a new CRM (Customer Record Management) system, replacing the previous one which had proven to be unreliable.
We’ve used a CRM system for some time as a database marketing tool, as from it we conduct email broadcasting, telemarketing and other ways of direct marketing to our contacts. Predominantly though, it’s a means of data management, containing all our contacts’ details, retaining their information centrally, making it easier to serve our customers in the best possible manner. Our aim has always been to set ourselves aside from our competition by virtue of the way we look after our customers – that and great data quality – something we feel we’re achieving really well (comments to the contrary are welcomed).
The period in-between deciding to replace the old system with a new one has been “trying”, shall we say. Finding the right one that does all we need it to do, at a realistic price, hasn’t been a simple task. You might think that CRM systems would all be much of a muchness, however let me tell you that’s not so, and there are lots out there! The problem is, of course, that all the while we were without a reliable system, we were unable to record our activities and customer interaction in any meaningful way. Whilst you may be saying “Manage them manually”, we have tried, however once you’re used to an automated system, it can be difficult to “backwards adjust!”
I still hear people ask why the need for a CRM system – I guess some may see it as a luxury. For me and my business, however, it’s an essential. Every lost lead, every misplaced hand-written note, every forgotten call-back, is a lost opportunity and we don’t want to lose even one opportunity. Having settled into a CRM system, manual management is too fraught with the potential to fall foul of “forgetfulness!”
The information our CRM system holds is invaluable when it comes to our direct marketing. Not only can we locate our contacts’ information quickly and easily, we can identify our contacts by their industry, hence we can market to them in a targeted manner. For instance, prior to adopting a CRM system, we worked from an excel spreadsheet and that was fine, to a point. When we did a mailshot, we could run a mail merge form the spreadsheet and all is good. However, whenever we wanted to conduct an email broadcast to a specific sector, this was nigh on impossible and extremely labour intensive. Now, we click a couple of buttons…..done!
I’ve heard some novel ways of retaining contact information and as long as those ways work for the individual and their business, fair play. Indeed, I’d be interested to learn how others without a CRM system manage their contacts. To us, our CRM system is like having another employee and one we couldn’t do without!