Customer behaviour patterns prove that big companies have not only embraced CRM, but are also reaping the benefits, says Softworx solutions manager Deon Eachells. There is also, he adds, much to learn from leading CRM vendors.
"Know your customers and give them what they want" is the fundamental principle of marketing. Although simple in theory, it can be challenging putting this into practice. Short of being a mind reader, it's difficult for companies to know what's on a customer's mind today, or anticipate what the customer may need or want tomorrow. The challenge does not, however, lie in a lack of customer data, says Eachells.
"Customers and prospective customers are, in fact, giving us information about themselves all the time," Eachells says. "Through every response, customer contact, event, transaction and website hit, they reveal something about themselves."
Databases are, as a result, full of customer information, and call centres and other customer management systems are overflowing with details about customers and contacts. The challenge, says Eachells, is to turn this raw data – which holds no value – into useful information that can drive your company forward.
Customer-focused companies, Eachells says, see every customer interaction as a chance to improve, increase, build or strengthen the relationship, and this attitude reaps enormous rewards. This is where solutions like CRM come into play, he says. CRM helps you to find patterns in the randomness of data so that you can discover valuable information and gain insight – critical to forecasting and achieving your business objectives.
"Vendors at the forefront of CRM are raking in the accolades because they know what their customers want and are able to deliver this to them in an exact, neat package," says Eachells. "And, it's evident that these vendors are going even further by modularising solutions so that customers can pick and choose, instead of having to buy a one-fits-all solution."
Eachells says customer behaviour patterns show us that big companies, specifically those in telecommunications, banking, insurance, hospitality and IT, are in the process of embracing CRM and are seeing the benefits.
Companies in these industries make use of call centres and, therefore, need to provide their operators with every piece of information about the customers that they are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. These companies need a comprehensive CRM solution to provide them with this functionality. They need a better understanding of their customer's needs so that they can improve their own exposure with customers. Turning contact centres into profit centres is what it's all about.
The one business sector in which Eachells believes there is still some resistance to change is in the small to medium size arena, particularly the manufacturing industry. This sector, he says, has still to invest heavily in CRM, let alone fully understand how this investment will benefit them.
"These companies are still just looking for an all-in-one package that will give them better contact management instead of the more comprehensive solution with all the bells and whistles," says Eachells.