Building a Customer Relationship Management Strategy

16th Sep 2018

The aims of implementing customer relationship management seem simple enough. By improving how you manage data that relates to your customers, you can not only increase your conversion rate but also your retention rate. However, as a business, it can be easy to take a far too simplistic view on how, exactly, to accomplish that. It’s also easy to believe that customer relationship management software offers all the tools you need and that simply going through the motions of running that software is enough. But that isn’t always the case.

If you want to use a tool correctly, you need to use it with intention. For that reason, you may need more than just customer relationship management software, you may also need to create a customer relationship management strategy.

What customer relationship management is all about

Customer management relationship is about a lot more than just one segment or department of the business. It’s a strategy that often influences the processes and priorities of multiple teams. It can be a powerful marketing tool, allowing you to record customer likes and dislikes, spending patterns, and demographic details. Through these, you can create accurate and insightful profiles to allow you to better target your customers.

However, while the marketing end might be the flashiest side of CRM, it’s not the only way it can and should impact the business. It’s a tool for the whole lifecycle of the customer, allowing sales reps to better understand potential customers individually during the sales phase, and for the support teams to provide more informed customer service. A good customer relationship management strategy should improve your marketing reaching and targeting, help you convert more of your market, and improve retention and referrals.

Your CRM strategy should nurture customers at every stage of the relationship, whether they have just encountered your brand for the first time, are in the late stages of buying, or haven’t interacted with the business in years.

What you need for your strategy

It might sound like it’s a major project, and that’s not necessarily incorrect, but it doesn’t have to be. As mentioned, a customer relationship strategy should influence the roles of team members across the board: in marketing, sales, and customer service. But what’s needed to set the strategy up?

Find the flaws in your cycle

Talk to members of the different teams, to see where you’re losing customers from the relationship cycle. Perhaps you can’t get the customers interested in the brand. Perhaps they take that initial step but fail to complete a sale. Or do they convert successfully, only to never be heard from again? The members of the key teams involved can offer you the feedback you need to better understand why that is. CRM should include all customer touchpoints but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have specific aims.

The right customer relationship management software

The software isn’t the only tool you need, but it’s still necessary. Consider the flaws mentioned in the cycle above and choose the CRM tool that offers features that can best tackle it. Do your sales team need the tools to better manage sales calls? Does the customer service team lack the ability to help customers confirm sales? Is your marketing team lacking the data that can help them target the most accurate people? Or are you just not keeping track of leads and opportunities?

A team behind the CRM

As CRM impacts teams across the customer cycle, the team primarily responsible for carrying out the strategy should include employees from each department. Representatives from marketing, sales, customer support and perhaps even finance should be involved. Whether you’re a business of 4 people wearing multiple hats, or a business of 250 with dedicated teams, feedback and early buy-in from each part of the organisation can make implementation much smoother.

How to make your strategy a reality

With the resources above, you’re ready to start implementing the strategy. The specifics of what processes you need to optimise, what stages of the customer lifecycle you need to improve, and which channels need to be focused on depends on your needs. Here are the steps you might find helpful to include in your CRM plan:

  • Map out the customer’s journey, using the insight gathered from your team to more accurately locate the pain points that cause customers to drop out of the life cycle.
  • Create key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure how well you tackle those pain points. Identify critical dates or milestones that you want to reach your goals by, too.
  • Examine the processes, assisted and unassisted, that make up the customer journey and how you facilitate it and optimise them.
  • Create an education and implementation plan to help your team adopt the measures necessary for a CRM strategy. Include a feedback loop so you can identify and tackle issues with getting the strategy moving.

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    What will the strategy entail?

    Again, the key points of what a CRM strategy involves depends on your needs and size of organisation, including what the issues in the customer lifecycle are. However, some of the tactics you can implement and measure include:

    • Adding new customer support channels.
    • Tracking sales and ensuring customers are being engaged and prompted when they need it most.
    • Gathering and sharing customer data between teams to better convert leads or retain customers.
    • Using the data to aim targeted direct marketing with specific appeals and calls-to-action for each customer profile.
    • Create and maintain a customer loyalty programme.

    You’re not done yet

    A customer relationship management strategy can transform your business’s relationship with your customers, and subsequently the business itself. However, it’s not a short-term transformation, it’s a new core tool of the business. The CRM team, software, and process of identifying pain points and measuring your ability to tackle them are here to stay. As you meet your initial objectives and continue to maintain your progress on them, you will find new processes that can be optimised and new issues that need to be addressed.

    Your CRM strategy is about the continual nurturing of every stage of the customer lifecycle. It allows you to understand your customer, to understand what stage they are at, and to figure out the easiest way to move them to the next stage. Besides increasing your conversion and retention rate, it creates a team that’s truly engaged in the customer relationship because they can see the cold hard data showing how much they’re improving every aspect of it.

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