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3 ways CRM improves your business processes

David Taber | Nov. 4, 2013
Everybody knows that the use case for CRM. It's in its name, after all: Customer relationship management. But how does that really improve the way your company does business?

2. The CRM System for Collaboration and Coordination
In companies focused on account management, renewal/upsell business and multi-phase contracts - for example, large capital equipment manufacturing, OEM supply chains or commercial construction - the CRM's main function is enabling collaboration and coordination among marketing, sales, engineering, manufacturing, service and support. In these companies, sales and support cycles are clearly delineated, typically embodied in up to eight discrete stages - even though they are complex and sometimes intertwined.

In addition to the scope described in the "smart file cabinet," the CRM system needs to be integrated with several other IT systems to provide at least daily updates to the customer "state of play." Further, the system will need to have several lightweight workflows with alerting emails and user prompts to make sure the ball is moving down the field. Collaboration with customers is typically enabled using communities and user forums, live-chat windows on the website, and "dedicated" customer support agents, all integrated with the CRM.

For organizations that need to do a lot of customer/prospect problem solving, a collaboration system such as Chatter or Jive should be integrated with the CRM to improve organizational responsiveness. This goes double if your company has a large set of Internet-based customers, as that's where problems fester quickly.

3. The CRM System as Task Master and Process Driver
This is the most ambitious CRM use case, with the biggest results for organizations that really are ready. High-performing B2C electronics, software, gaming, and financial services, or B2B high-tech, all need highly synchronized marketing, sales and customer service organizations. There will be high quotas, high commissions, and tight SLAs, both internal and external.

Here, the sales and support cycles are closely measured and highly standardized. These companies often have multiple marketing, sales and support processes running in parallel - for example, standard vs. 24x7 support, or enterprise vs. SMB sales. In these organizations, you may see metrics even on predictions, such as forecast accuracy or models of backlog-burn-down rate.

In this use case, the CRM must do everything from the first two use cases while addding tighter linkage with other systems and business processes. Instead of advisory messages or read-only data, the CRM needs to become the heart of a giant state-machine. Workflows, approval cycles, escalations and management by exception need to be implemented for marketing deliverables and programs, sales cycles, order expediting, customer support and professional services. Collaboration will be more tightly integrated as well: Call center phones are linked to the CRM, and customer support are provided through self-support portals. This goes double if the company sells through multiple channels.

These are the most mouth-watering projects for CRM integrators and consultants. If you need all this, budget accordingly.

 

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