The coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered how we do business in the United States. While nobody has a crystal ball when it comes to how long it will affect our economy and workplaces, one thing’s for sure. To survive as a business, you must maintain excellent customer relationships.
In other words, now’s the time to invest in customer relationship management (CRM). Whether your business comes from consumers or other business owners. Besides having a robust CRM system in place, you should integrate it with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
Here is our in-depth exploration of these specific tools and how they can help your company maximize growth, even during these challenging and volatile times.
What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?
Customer relationship management (CRM) redefines how companies interact with their current customers and potential leads. It relies on data analysis about each customer’s history with a company to manage and nurture relationships.
It does so by focusing on customer retention first and then driving sales growth moving forward.
Perhaps you cater to consumers? Or other business owners? Either way, it’s essential to stay up-to-date when it comes to evolving conversations with existing customers and following up effectively with new leads.
Customer satisfaction depends on your company’s ability to offer personalized, attentive engagement. At the same time, you must continue to grow your customer base. After all, your company’s either growing or it is dying.
If we had to sum up what CRM means in one phrase, it’s this: put the customer first.
Why is this so important? Because 86 percent of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. The stat says it all.
What Is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)?
As for enterprise resource planning (ERP), this integrated approach to the management of business processes happens in real-time, mediated by technology and software. ERP streamlines how you organize, store, manage, and interpret data from a variety of business-related activities.
It also facilitates information flow across your company and maintains connections with outside stakeholders. No wonder enterprise software represents a multibillion-dollar industry. One that generates applications to support a variety of business functions.
There is no better time than the present to integrate CRM and ERP into your business processes. Not only do they represent essential tools for future growth, but they complement one another, resulting in a seamless approach to collaboration.
The Importance of Enhancing Customer Experience
If you neglect to receive and use customer feedback to improve your company’s customer experience, you will miss out on a fantastic growth tool. Even in these times fraught with uncertainty and anxiety.
You should gather consumer feedback throughout the customer journey. This approach is vital to future marketing campaigns, the buyer life cycle, and your overall customer experience. Know that as your company shifts its focus to CRM, it will require continuous feedback.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the idea of gathering customer feedback and responding to it throughout the buyer journey? If so, remember that the best CRM software can help you track and manage all this data effectively and efficiently.
Although shifting gears requires a learning curve, use this time now to turn your company into a customer-centered profit-generating machine. It will pay off. Customer experience will overtake other factors such as price and product this year as the key brand differentiators.
Putting the Customer First
If you do not make CRM a priority, your company will get left in the dust. The coronavirus has further underscored this situation as customers, now more than ever, want to know the brands they purchase from care about them.
Of course, this raises another important point. If you have a bricks-and-mortar business and do limited or no online sales, how do you acquire new customers in the interim? By nurturing the leads that you have already developed.
But do not stop there. You also need to continue forging connections with your existing customers. After all, it proves anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive to gain first-time customers than to keep the ones you have.
How do you do this? By putting the customer first.
On the bright side, a customer retention rate of just five percent will ramp up your profits by upwards of 25 to 95 percent. How do you like those numbers?
What a Good Customer Experience Looks Like
We have outlined the critical nature of creating a fantastic customer experience. Next, let’s drill a little deeper into the concept of customer experience.
Customer service refers to your customers’ perceptions of how your company treats them. These perceptions color their behaviors. They inspire feelings and build memories, and they drive loyalty.
Put another way, when customers like your brand and believe in it, they are going to do business with you again. As studies show, they will likely spend even more money with you the next time around.
How much more? Approximately 300 times more!
Now, you may be asking, “How do I get customers to like my brand?” The answer to this question is counterintuitive yet firmly based on marketing best practices. To make your customers “like” your brand, get to know them better.
Personalize Your Marketing
What’s the best way to get well-acquainted with your customers? By collecting their feedback using CRM software and then using it to improve their interactions with your company through integrated ERP.
That means collecting plenty of data. CRM software lets you do this with precision and speed. CRM enables you to increase customer retention, satisfaction, and revenue.
Gone are the days of Mad Men, when great marketing came down to the catchiest slogan and flashiest logo. The new battlefield is customer experience, so make each customer your priority with CRM.
Business Innovation and ERP
At this point, you are probably wondering how ERP fits into the mix. After all, many companies make the mistake of assuming they either need CRM or ERP. We assert, however, that you need both for the most effective marketing approach.
Like CRM, ERP proves suitable for just about any industry. It helps an organization manage business functions within a centralized and integrated system. ERP stores all entered data into a single database, which makes access from all departments more manageable.
An ERP system lets you organize, analyze data, and create reports based on your current needs and marketing campaigns. It brings together:
- Customer management
- Business intelligence
- Human resources
- Financial management
- Supply chain
You get all these tools at your fingertips and in one centralized hub. It doesn’t get more streamlined than that!
Companies use ERP to save money, improve collaborations, better utilize analytics, and increase productivity. When integrated with CRM, it also leads to happier customers.
ERP and Happier Customers
Now, you understand why providing a client-centered experience is so important to the success of your business. ERP, when coupled with CRM, can help you achieve this.
The best ERP software is equipped with a CRM tool or can be easily integrated with one. With an ERP, your CRM will have access to data across all business functions.
For example, an integrated CRM lets you see customer contact information. But it goes far beyond that. It allows you to see your clients more holistically, gaining an essential understanding of their needs and wants.
This increased customer visibility will help you formulate your business strategy for improved lead generation.
ERP and CRM: The Integration Challenge
Still not sure how CRM and ERP software integrate? Think of your CRM system as dealing with the front-end information of your company. It manages valuable customer data and enriches it through interactions with customer support and your marketing team.
As for an ERP system, it handles critical backend information. This data includes things like generally managing customer information to process orders after they get placed.
Many companies run their CRM and ERP systems independently, and they both come with substantial benefits to companies.
That said, a powerful integration solution allows for connectivity between the two, resulting in even greater advantages for businesses.
Not sure where to start? Consider business outsourcing to a top-notch marketing firm for small business.
Of course, not that long ago, syncing the two systems proved quite challenging. ERP and CRM systems tended to remain siloed as their different architectures made streamlining difficult.
Yet, two systems unable to communicate with one another guarantee that tracking all customer interactions is impossible. The lack of communication also hampers a company’s ability to obtain data across one interface. For example, sales representatives must jump between both applications, crafting a 360-degree view of their customers.
As you can see, a lack of integration creates an inefficient workspace. Businesses need both a robust ERP and CRM integration solution to streamline their business processes.
In the time of COVID-19, this proves more true than ever before. Explore these data-driven digital marketing case studies to gain a better sense of what this type of integration can look like and what it can do for your company.
Now’s the Time to Streamline Your Processes
As a business owner, you face more challenges today than ever before. For companies with essential workers, you may have concerns about the supply chain and keeping your employees healthy. For non-essential businesses, you may wonder how and when you will recover.
Your customers may be social distancing or self-isolating, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected. It doesn’t mean you can’t continue to provide them with excellent service, either.
Staying in touch with customers lets them know they’re a part of your brand’s larger community. This approach will also pave the way for a transition into online sales and services, which many companies are now considering.
Focus on Serving Customers Through Digital Channels
Do you typically offer phone and email support to your customers? If so, now’s the time to increase your customer service capabilities. That way, when your patrons reach out, you will be ready to interact with and help them.
As for remaining in contact with your customers. Regularly send out emails to keep them informed of what your business is doing now and how you’re contributing to the fight against the coronavirus.
You may highlight a business collaboration or how you are reworking manufacturing to fill a need. For example, clothing brands are transforming their facilities to make masks and protective gear for hospital workers. Cosmetic companies are manufacturing hand sanitizers and disinfectants.
Car companies and other manufacturers have transitioned into making respirators and other equipment necessary to fight the pandemic. No matter the activity, reach out to let your customers know about it.
If these are not options for your company, then consider raising money to donate to efforts that fight the coronavirus. Or, launch an effort to show gratitude and thank front-line workers. Get your community of customers involved in the effort, too.
Everybody is stuck at home right now. Many people want to help yet feel helpless. Let your brand be a beacon of light, showing them how to make a difference even amid social distancing.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
The global pandemic has left many small to mid-sized companies scrambling to stay afloat. Brick and mortar stores across the nation have shuttered temporarily while essential businesses work frantically to keep up and keep their customers and employees safe.
We cannot control the pandemic and how it will resolve. We can, however, use this time to stay in touch with our customers and get to know them better by implementing and integrating CRM and ERP systems.
These tools are among the most important aspects of your business planning and strategy now and moving forward.
Are you interested in finding out more about how to maximize growth with CRM and ERP? Contact us now to discuss how we can work together to improve your customer experience.