How do you use CRM? Is it a tool to track the efficiency of sales and marketing employees, or does it give you the edge in creating a lasting relationship with customers? Does it help build employee loyalty and morale, or does it provide information on how to leverage customer loyalty and increase sales and referrals? The answers to these questions determine how you should measure your CRM performance.
Some components of CRM success are not measurable or may be misleading. For example, take customer satisfaction. You can ask customers to fill out a survey, and many will oblige, but how many will take the time to write down their real opinions? If you give customers multiple-choice questions, you are unlikely to find the right choices for them to express their experience of your business relationship. You may receive good or excellent feedback from customers with which you do no further business. Customer satisfaction will be high, but revenue has not increased as a result.
So, then, how do you measure customer satisfaction in a way that goes beyond putting a smiley face next to the customer's name in your Christmas card list? One way that a customer indicates approval is by recommending your company to others. Another way is to continue buying products from your business or to be willing to explore the different product families that it offers. Perhaps a customer buys large quantities, or maybe he or she buys smaller quantities more frequently. These are all valid metrics that define a good business relationship and opportunities to increase revenue — and they should represent data captured by your CRM applications.
What customer information should you include in your database to indicate a lasting and fruitful relationship? Consider the following list.
• How many new customers did your company gain in the previous year, and of those, how many were recommended by existing customers?
• How frequently does the customer place an order?
• How receptive is the customer to trying new or upgraded products from your company?
• Does the customer pay invoices within 30 days?
• Which of your product lines interest the customer? Are you familiar with how your various product lines can provide solutions for its business needs?
• Does the customer work with other suppliers? Is it open to considering your products instead?
Continuing in this vein, you might want to quantify how this customer data is best used by sales personnel. For example:
• Can sales staff access the customer data to determine what products might best suit it?
• Based on knowledge of the customer's needs, are brochures and samples given to help expand its use of your product line?
• Based on knowledge of the customer's operations, might he or she be willing to serve as an early test subject for a new product being developed?
• Knowing what other suppliers the customer uses, can you make suggestions on how your product could better serve his or her enterprise?
• Does your sales staff make timely calls to customers aligned with their purchasing schedules?
Of course, for the members of your staff to take advantage of the CRM database, they must be comfortable with it and willing to input and access data. One way to accomplish that is to provide efficient training and sufficient support, then give the database sufficient time to work. Once your company's sales force finds that it can increase sales leads and referrals via the CRM database, its willingness to use it will increase.
Remember: The purpose of a CRM system is not simply to measure its own efficiency but to generate better customer relationships and greater revenue.
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