The primary goal of CRM is to build a single, integrated, corporate-wide view of the customer, enabling the company to maximize the customer’s experience. By integrating front- and back-office systems to include records of all customer contact, purchases, requests for information and technical support, the corporation can present a single face to the customer and, therefore, provide better service.
The benefits of Web-based CRM must be viewed from two perspectives: the customer’s and the company’s. From the customer’s perspective, the Web CRM solution must help in a number of key areas, including:
- Buying product
- Solving problems
- Getting answers to questions from a variety of sources, such as e-mail, fax and live agents
- Providing competitive price and product comparisons
- Offering cross-promotional items
- Informing and educating about new or improved products
- Removing all fears or uncertainties surrounding the purchase.
These needs, in turn, can be placed in six broad categories: ease of doing business, single point of service, competitive pricing, trust, choice and personalized solutions.
Company Perspective: The benefits of CRM from the company’s perspective are different than those of the customer. Yet they enable the company to best satisfy customers’ needs. Clearly, benefits such as increased revenue, enhanced customer relationships, acquisition of new and more profitable customers and improved customer retention rates are expected by the company and are definable. It is possible to measure the revenue earned and number of customers. But one immeasurable benefit is that an effective Web-based CRM solution can provide a competitive differentiation, particularly when products in a global economy can become commodities overnight.
The Web: The most important use of the Web from a CRM perspective is self-service so customers can make inquiries about their accounts at any time and from anywhere. The Web should also be used for electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) so customers can see what they owe and pay online if appropriate. For revenue enhancement, companies can also provide instant messaging to be used for cross-selling and upselling services based on the profiles of customers using their Web site.
Interactive voice response (IVR): An IVR system is required for customers to perform self-service inquiries via the phone instead of the Web.
Reporting: Good reporting tools are necessary for both customer and internal reports.
Call center technology: Some type of call center technology with PBX or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) integrated with intelligent call routing is an absolute must for an interface with a live customer service representative. It can reduce the number of dropped calls.
Integration framework: A technology framework that allows all applications and databases that contain customer information to be integrated can make a big difference in the speed of implementation.
Defining the success factors of an effective CRM solution is to some degree based on the industry the solution is servicing. As a general rule, the following questions must be answered by the data compiled by the CRM solution:
- Who are the most profitable customers?
- What is their lifetime value?
- Which customers are most likely to leave?
- Who are the best candidates for cross-selling opportunities?
- Who should be targeted as new prospects versus those that are potential risks?
Certainly from the customer perspective, a successful CRM solution will be determined by:
- Multiple points of access
- Company providing personalized service
- The ability to carry out self-service
- Ease of use/convenience
- Round-the-clock availability.
In today’s Web economy, it is not a question of whether a Web-based CRM solution is needed. Rather, the question is when and how effectively will it be implemented? Customers are the core of any business. With the competitive environment fueled by the Web, which enables smaller businesses to compete more effectively with larger organizations, any method of differentiation from the competition will help in retaining high-value customer and adding new customers.