Brands have finite resources and budgets but an infinite appetite for growth. Because they need to decide where to spend those precious resources, they often leave a customer relationship management program at the table without understanding its true value.
That’s a mistake. While companies have traditionally considered CRM programs as sales tools, the CRM program and the customer experience today is one and the same.
Rather than making a shift to increase funding in areas that make impacts, companies tend to keep their budgets narrowed in on items they’ve always allocated funds toward. Understanding the overall influence and value of a CRM program to the customer experience is a crucial contributor to ensuring it receives the proper funding from the corporate budget.
Beyond Sales and Marketing
CRM programs go above and beyond marketing and sales. They can help you learn more about product development, service design, and even customer insights. While these examples often don’t have immediate monetary value, they will eventually return results in new and unseen ways.
To understand the actual value of a CRM program, you need to know what type of company you are, how you measure success, and how you want to be perceived by your customers and prospects. Every industry has different models, thus different CRM programming needs.
For example, an automotive company needs to engage over a long period to not only help drive the sales, but also to educate the consumer, reinforce the purchase, and ensure the consumer gets the most from the vehicle and the brand leading up to the next time they are in market for a vehicle. The purchase is significant, deeply considered, and infrequent.
A quick-service restaurant, however, potentially works with customers daily. Enticing someone to visit a restaurant each week is an entirely different experience from engaging with someone to purchase a new vehicle or even try out a new product.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to a CRM program or designing effective ones that deliver on the desired customer experience. With this in mind, here are four steps you should take to get the most value from your CRM program:
1. Understand the entire customer experience. You need to know the whole customer journey, not just the marketing journey. What are all the touchpoints, interactions, and points of friction for the customer to buy from and engage with your company? For example, in the financial services sector, it’s essential to provide the right service and product for the need and life stage of the customer. And, depending on that life stage, you’ll have different touchpoints and communication methods.
2. Connect all channels. You must connect your paid, owned, digital, and physical channels together. A CRM platform can provide multichannel customer data to give you a better understanding of what channels a customer engages with the most, how old she is, what city she lives in, what she’s purchased, etc. As a result, all your channels have to be connected to provide a seamless experience for the customer.
3. Bring all internal stakeholders in on the discussion. When moving forward with a CRM program, don’t work in silos. The last thing you want is to implement a new companywide initiative such as a CRM program only to find that your teams aren’t using it. Make sure all your internal stakeholders are part of the discussion so that you have a better idea of where it can affect your business.
4. Evaluate potential value. A CRM program’s value goes beyond sales. Look at what it delivers above and beyond its tangible monetary value. How is the program helping you grow your addressable base in a personalized manner? And what value will it provide in three to five years?
Your company’s strategy, communication, and success criteria are all different, and you must base them on your brand and your goals. How you position yourself as a brand and the promise you make to the consumer should be ingrained in your strategy and drive the experience you want to create. But to get there, you need to understand the true value of a CRM program for your business.
John Wells is the president of RAPP Los Angeles and Dallas, a company that focuses on critical, direct, and high-value relationships that link people and brands across the fast-changing digital landscape.