Customer Relationship Management

Customer relationship management (CRM) is the combination of practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle. The goal is to improve customer service relationships and assist in customer retention and drive sales growth.

CRM systems compile customer data across different channels, or points of contact, between the customer and the company, which could include the companys website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials and social networks. CRM systems can also give customerfacing staff members detailed information on customers personal information, purchase history, buying preferences and concerns.

Why CRM benefits businesses

The use of CRM systems can benefit organizations ranging from small businesses to large corporations, through:

1. Having customer information such as past purchases and interaction history easily accessible can help customer support representatives provide better and faster customer service.

2. Collection of and access to customer data can help businesses identify trends and insights about their customers through reporting and visualization features.

3. Automation of menial, but necessary, sales funnel and customer support tasks.

Components of CRM

At the most basic level, CRM software consolidates customer information and documents it into a single CRM database so business users can more easily access and manage it.

Marketing automation

CRM tools with marketing automation capabilities can automate repetitive tasks to enhance marketing efforts at different points in the lifecycle for lead generation. For example, as sales prospects come into the system, it might automatically send email marketing content, with the goal of turning a sales leadsinto a full-fledged customer.

Sales force automation

Sales force automation tools track customer interactions and automate certain business functions of the sales cycle that are necessary to follow leads, obtain new customers and build customer loyalty.