The way businesses touch and interact with customers is expanding. Digital and social channels, especially, give a business massive amounts of data about customer interactions. But how to manage all of this information, and how to decide which data is important to driving your business? A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is a key tool to help 21st century businesses understand and react to their customers.
A CRM tracks a business’ associations and interactions with both customers and prospective customers, and enables companies to stay connected to customers or clients, improve their business strategies and processes, and increase their productivity.
Keep in mind that CRM is used as a blanket term for a wide variety of software designed to track, customer interactions and inform customer engagement strategies. Understanding some of the key jargon associated with CRM systems is also helpful in understanding how CRMs work.
One of the main goals of CRM is collecting and organizing customer data. This, of course, means that the data must be stored somewhere. The term data warehousing refers to the process of storing and managing data.
Note that data warehousing is not referring to a specific storage method, but is a more general term typically used in discussions of where and how you are storing your customer data. Currently, the cloud is becoming increasingly popular for warehousing data, as it alone provides the scalability needed for today’s elastic business climate.
Data mining refers to the process of deriving useful information from your data. CRMs can “mine” data using various techniques, including classification and anomaly detection, but the goal in all cases is to unveil patterns in customer behavior that can be used to improve the customer experience and boost sales.
Data mining makes it possible to categorize customers according to their characteristics and behavior. Using these processes, businesses can improve their strategies to improve their customer interactions, such as offering incentives to the customer at the right time to maximize profit margins – and make the customer happy at the same time.
Many businesses today are discovering it is difficult and expensive to provide customer service using all potential methods of contact.
Multi-channel integration brings multiple methods of contact together into a single management system. Multi-channel integration refers to integrating the communication channels customers may use (to the extent that they fit into your business strategy). With multi-channel integration, you can offer a uniform, reliable customer experience across communication channels, even if a customer uses multiple channels.
Contact centers is just the more modern term for “call centers.” Not surprisingly, many businesses are moving away from the term call center, as phone calls only represent one of multiple channels through which customers interact with businesses today. Contact Centers use the systems developed for Multi-Channel Integration to allow Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) to support customers across channels.
A sales pipeline is term used to describe a graphical representation of potential future sales. With a sales pipeline, you can see how many leads make it to the various stages of the sale cycle. A sales pipeline is a useful tool for calculating the demand for products and accurately tracking sales at each stage of the sale cycle.
CRM systems make it much easier to develop a reliable and predictable sales pipeline. With a sales pipeline, you can also more easily see how and at what stage a prospect might enter the sale cycle, and leave it. This enables a business to devise strategies to keep prospects in their pipeline. CRMs enable a high level of customization, and their automated data collection algorithms simplify the process further.
The terms mentioned above crop up frequently in discussions of CRMs and how they function, so it’s important to have a good grip on what they mean and how they are used. Having a basic familiarity with these terms will help you understand how CRMs work and how to use them to grow your business.
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