Customer Relationship Management Systems - Enable Your Customers!


By Enabliser Andrew

Your customer is in your store with money to spend; they have returned and are looking to make a purchase to celebrate an event with a significant other in their lives.

You have had a long standing relationship over many years. You have gleaned through your many conversations that the significant “others” are in their life (e.g. Partners, Spouses, Children, Parents, other relationships like Business Partners and Acquaintances). You may have established important milestone dates like Anniversaries, Birthdays, Bar mitzvah’s, Confirmations, Christenings, Naming’s, Graduations, Family traditions the list goes on. You would have ascertained relevant regional and demographic information and you would by now know where the customer’s tastes lay, what their price points are and what incentivises them.

Why are they in your Store and why did they return? Is all this data in your individual salespeople’s heads only?  Through a CRM System you were able to identify customer purchase triggers and you were able to keep them proactively informed via the customers preferred communications channels ie mail, email or Social networking. Giving staff access to appropriate customer information can assist in providing informed service. A CRM System assists you to manage both your customers, loyalty programs, staff and suppliers and can facilitate how they can interact to your commercial advantage. Most importantly it is intuitive and easy to use as it complements your existing business processes. The ongoing update of information is occurs at all logical touch points which includes transaction updates via POS. It short it provides you with a single view of your customer and other business partnerships.

CRM or Customer Relationship Management software has moved on from the traditional contacts, marketing lists and varied mechanisms to track and record contact interactions. CRM technology has advanced to the stage where it will interact with POS Software, your email, your Spreadsheets, Word processing tools as well as Social Networking tools like Facebook and Twitter. What this means to businesses is that CRM software is now capable guiding staff through your preferred customer interaction process.

Business can realistically expect they can store almost any bit of information against a customer. If there is not an existing place holder for a key bit of info all a user literally does is click on a few buttons and add a new field to store that Date, Name, Occasion or $ Value.

Why is CRM important in 2011 and in the future? Baby Boomers and Generation X’ers are way more compliant with traditional CRM interaction mechanism. Your challenge is keeping up with GenY’s the first of which born in 1976 are now in their mid-thirties and have not yet peaked in terms of disposable income. The tail end of this generation are just leaving school and entering the market. They are used to market noise not being connected to the internet is simply unthinkable. Not using technology in commercial or social transactions considered laughable (lol ;)). The challenge to business is to be relevant.

How would you go about implementing CRM? It’s surprisingly easy. You can implement “online”, of course! You can have a CRM system up and running together with email and productivity software in under an hour. All you need is Internet access and a credit card. Wizards and online interactive tutorials will guide you through the process. Yes, for a generation familiar with and who inherently trust technology this is the way to go.

Surprisingly modern CRM takes for granted that in order to be relevant users expect to be able to personalise the look and feel of their software. In the hands of even relatively inexperienced hands they can go a long way before needing professional help.  

Granted the Online approach is not everyone’s preferred way to implement an IT system. If you prefer there are plenty of vendors who still conduct business in a more traditional manner. They will look to establish a trusted working relationship and counsel with you through your solution selection process. The best way to find them is of course the Internet.

Enabling is continually requested to provide what our customers call a “Single view of Customer”. What they expect access to off a single screen is Transaction information by product and event for example knowing that a customer bought a Necklace for an Anniversary might cue matching earrings for a Birthday or Valentine’s Day. Having email history and responses to marketing campaigns at hand is a realistic expectation too.

The commercial transactions in store are often adequately covered by existing POS Systems, Websites and Accounting Systems. Owners have realised the gap that requires addressing is the Social Transactions. A good CRM System will provide a good customer interaction platform and often will be the link between existing Systems by combining all relevant information on one page (screen). This approach is prevalent across all industries. The provision of information is instantaneous through the provision of Quotes. Converting Quotes to Orders and the transfer of transactions to your Accounting System is CRM functionality that complements existing systems. The linking of two often disparate processes into one is big time saver for business.

CRM is no Silver Bullet to guaranteed repeat custom or loyalty. It is a platform to facilitate the ongoing process of understanding customers their needs and how best to serve them. CRM represents the transition from customer service through human memory to the more readily accessible electronic memory and all this represents.

In terms of tangible benefits, these may be instantaneous as quotes can be provided, accepted and converted to sales in a single process so fewer sales may be missed. For the most part benefits are medium to long term as business process is improved and business better utilises time, resources like stock and staff.

For more information on CRM solutions, please visit our website, an award winning CRM partner.

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