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The Digital Business Kit for Retailers


Learning Outcomes

Retailers will identify the online Customer Support strategies that can best suit their business. [printfriendly]

mod-arrow Customer Relationship Management

crmCustomer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are programs designed to keep all of your customer information in one place and accessible to your staff and to other business systems as needed. CRM’s can be kept locally on your business computer/network or hosted in the Cloud as Software-as-Service. CRM systems retain up-to-date records all of your customer details, such as contact information and demographics as well as customer history with the company; this enables your staff to provide the best service to the customer in real-time. A CRM system can be visualised as a combination of:

  • Contact book – With all of your customers and their contact and profile information available.
  • Filing cabinets – For customer related documents like sales quotes, invoices, word docs, etc.
  • Staff communication board – All the to-do’s, follow-ups, notes about ongoing customer conversations.
  • Staff communications and time sheets – Staff can log time spent on different tasks to help your business calculate time investment for a sale, customer support, etc.
  • Help tickets – Can all be logged and tracked from receipt, in progress to complete.
  • And much, much more….

This is just a short list of some of the common features of a CRM. These and other features provide benefits to your company and customers such as:

  • Understanding the customer.
  • Retaining customers through better customer experience.
  • Attracting new customers.
  • Winning new clients and contracts.
  • Increasing profitably.
  • Decreasing customer management costs and more…

“While the phrase customer relationship management is most commonly used to describe a business-customer relationship, CRM systems are used in the same way to manage business contacts, clients, contract wins and sales leads. Customer Relationship Management solutions provide you with the customer business data to help you provide services or products that your customers want, provide better customer service, cross-sell and up-sell more effectively, close deals, retain current customers and understand who the customer is. ” Source.

For a look at more features and some of the top rated CRMs visit this helpful page from reviews.com, browse more CRM comparison and best practice articles on the resource page and see end of this page for a video demonstrating CRMs.

How will a CRM run for my business?

CRM systems can be stand-alone as a tool or integrated with your other company systems. CRMs can take the form of a software program downloaded to your local company system or subscribed as a SAS (software as service) which are hosted online by the vendor.

What’s the difference? A Software-as-Service (SAS) includes the ability to integrate to website/online systems and provide access to your staff/customers from any location at any time depending on the permissions set by your company. SAS solutions can also offer more cost effective pricing and are typically more scalable to your unique and evolving requirements.

 

TIP:

You need to ensure that you have adequate Internet connectivity to provide stable access to your CRM if you choose a SAS solution.

Specialisations: There are CRM applications tailored for almost every industry. Search for CRM applications that provide the best built-in features for your type of retail business.

Why CRM? – a review

Without a CRM you are likely already maintaining client records manually (written by hand) or in a non-specialised program (such as Excel or other general spreadsheet/database). By moving to a CRM you have the opportunity to:

  • Save time and improve service: Automate new customer information and activity, which will save you time and provide better customer service.

  • No-hassle maintenance: Work with a system designed and maintained by experts (as a SaS) to make keeping track of your customers easy.
  • Real time: Have up to the minute records of your customer activities that any of your staff can access including what they just/last ordered online, support requests, etc.
  • Add new tools more easily: Add-ons can include review apps, accounting integration etc.