The growth of communication technology, particularly in social media, has changed how businesses gain and keep customers. Blanket marketing has been replaced with customer engagement, which is highly personal and can be complex. A sound customer relationship management (CRM) system can take your business to the next level.

What is a CRM System?

A CRM system encompasses all types of customer engagement, from learning about the interests of your target consumers to reaching out to the individual. The best CRM systems give you keen insights into customers, automate marketing and help you engage with customers at the right place and the right time to convert leads into sales.

CRM software, a term often used synonymously with CRM systems, can assist you with that. However, many businesses do not use their CRM system to the fullest capacity. If you are among those businesses and want to improve your ROI, here are five strategies to improve your CRM system:

  1. Use your CRM system across all departments. The best CRM system is one that not only helps sales or customer service with their jobs but can also be used by marketing in its campaigns, social media to inform its posting habits, even your R&D department in figuring out the next product or upgrade. Make sure your CRM software is accessible to all departments; use the permissions features to restrict tools if necessary so each employee can still get the information they need to do their job even better.
  2. Train all employees. If you want your people to use CRM software to its fullest capacity, then you shouldn't rely on their figuring it out as they go. Many CRM systems have video or webinar training. Alternately, you can have one person in each department learn the system and then train everyone else in that department. The more they learn about the tools that most help their mission, the better. For example, marketing should know how to incorporate surveys and use the analysis features, while customer support personnel should know the best ways to place notes so that trends can be identified.
  3. Integrate your CRM software with other business and automation software. If your CRM system is only good for making notes that you need to log in to refer back to, it's not worth the price. Top CRM systems integrate with marketing, email and calendar programs. For example, your CRM software should let you make an appointment to Outlook or your Google calendar, or schedule an email to go out on a client's anniversary.
  4. Make your CRM system social. Your CRM system must integrate with your social media channels. Over half of all consumers say social media influences their online purchasing decisions, and that percentage is growing. Further, people turn to social media to complain about or praise products or services – both on your page and on their own. If your system is not plugged in, you are missing out on an ocean of valuable data and marketing opportunities.
  5. Analyze the information. To get the most of your CRM system, you need to do more than use the contact and feedback features. Information analysis, either by your CRM software or through an integrated system, should be able to mine data for such things as customer demographics, common complaints, special requests, purchasing habits and more. This works on a large scale, such as helping marketing determine which ads will most influence consumers on Facebook. It also works on a micro level. For example, if you sell coffee, you can see how often a customer orders more, then send that person a reminder email with a special offer on your newest brand.

CRM software is a big investment, but used effectively as part of an overall customer relationship system, it can bring great returns. Learn more about the best CRM software by checking out our reviews here.

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