A detailed look into Customer Relationship Management
SMEs share the real benefits from their CRM solutions
By Mike Richardson, Managing Director EMEA, Maximizer Services
With customer services a top priority for increasing loyalty and profit, a large number of companies are investing money and resources in CRM solutions. There is, however, at present, very little published evidence on the current level of return on investment (ROI) that small and medium sized organisations (SMEs) are gaining from such solutions. Understanding the ROI is essential to gauging the success of CRM implementation within an organisation.
Seeing how peers are deploying their CRM solution can help SMEs both purchase a solution that best suits their needs, and improve the function of their existing solution. SMEs are least likely to have the resources to commission this research and will therefore benefit from information from other sources. Maximizer has recently conducted research (SME Benchmark Study: Measuring Value & Success of CRM) that provides hard evidence on the precise benefits CRM solutions bring to SMEs, information that was previously scarce.
Customers today are no longer reliant on a salesperson to inform their choices; instead, along with the advancement of technology, they have gained the freedom to conduct their own product/service research completely independently. Yet a business that can provide a customer with up-to-date, relevant information to fit their needs as they set out on their 'buyer journey' significantly increases its chances of becoming the favoured supplier.
Given the evolving way in which buyers and sellers interact, there has never been a greater need to follow, guide, offer expertise and monitor the customer's experience at each step of the way to making a purchase. But the importance of CRM is not restricted to sales alone, from billing to marketing, CRM connects data throughout a business turning it into real usable intelligence and providing it with the edge on its competitors.
Organisations incorporate CRM solutions into their business at varying degrees. Some remain in the initial stages of basic deployment, while others implement their CRM right at the heart of their operations. The Benchmark Study reveals that just under a third of companies are using their CRM at its optimum level. These businesses realise the capabilities of their CRM solution in helping to ensure every step of the buyer journey is met with expertise and support.
This level of usage not only channels information from different departments directly to customer facing activities but also feeds current information on trends in behaviour from the customer back to the business. This can create profiles of possible high value buyers or lapsed customers for example and can inform the business' decision making and development of new strategies.
The majority of SMEs have not yet realised the full potential of their CRM, but they are still gaining value on investment. These companies are usually applying CRM to process and productivity objectives. The latter specifically provides an immediately apparent and easily measurable return.
Maximizer asked SMEs who were using their CRM which operating benefits they had recorded as a direct result of use. 87% of respondents indicated that centralisation of customer data was the key operating and business benefit of CRM.
A central data hub of essential customer information drawn directly from the CRM solution, ERP and finance systems creates the optimum CRM implementation. This offers uniform, accurate data throughout different systems and departments that is not siloed but instead shared to inform over-arching business strategy. Staff and managers can engage with buyers at the opportune moment with the most relevant data, making sure they can seize upon opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell effectively. Better data quality results in the ability to extract greater value from it and 70% of respondents reported that improved data quality & value is the second key benefit of CRM solutions.
60% of SMEs ranked improved transparency as the third key benefit, although dashboards and reports on KPI and other metrics were only utilised by 25%, with just 8% using advanced Excel to analyse data. Clearly, there are greater opportunities for SMEs to use their CRM to monitor and analyse data for decision making.
The findings of Maximizer's Benchmark Study offer SMEs a straightforward assessment of how peers are implementing CRM and how it is working for them. This provides a clear itinerary for those who are yet to realise the full potential of CRM solutions in their business. Given the financial investment necessary when establishing CRM, it is essential that SMEs have a working knowledge of such solutions and what value they can bring to their business.
To read the full Benchmark Report, you can download it here: http://go.maximizer.com/benchmark-report-pr