To succeed as a business, it's vital that you're able to build strong, lasting relationships with customers. Keeping your existing customers happy and maintaining a steady flow of new business supports revenue generation and sets you up for future growth.
This is why many companies invest in customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
Dedicated software can deliver many benefits in this area, but it's important to be sure you're using the right technology for your own needs and those of your customers. Not only should a good CRM system integrate seamlessly with your existing tech stack, it needs to be able to deliver on business objectives and support employees who interact with your customers.
Read on to learn more about the three main types of CRM and the various features and advantages they can offer:
As the name suggests, operational CRM software helps support your regular operations where engagement with customers is concerned. Encompassing sales, marketing and service, an operational CRM can provide useful all-round support to most businesses.
Specific functions of this variety of CRM include lead distribution and scoring for the sales team. Automation of these processes makes it much easier for sales professionals to view current leads and identify high-quality prospects that are worth pursuing.
The automated element of operational software also comes into play with respect to contact management. It's vital that you're able to maintain orderly, up-to-date records of your various contacts in one location, and a good CRM makes this job much easier. Software can also take care of time-consuming but important jobs like updating contact information every time a customer interacts with you.
As far as marketing is concerned, an operational CRM can offer valuable benefits such as automated segmentation of your various leads and prospects, allowing you to tailor and target your marketing more effectively.
You can use your CRM to segment and classify marketing leads using information such as:
- Past interactions with the business and the sales team
- Previous engagement with marketing messages
- Purchase history
- Estimated close time
- Likely product or service interest
- Organization size and type (for B2B marketing)
Where an operational CRM can provide valuable support for your day-to-day customer contact and regular sales and marketing efforts, an analytical system can be more effective if you want to get to grips with the large amounts of customer data you have at your disposal.
This information can be an extremely useful asset, but only if you have the right tools and capabilities to analyze and gain actionable insights from it.
An analytical CRM offers the features you need to bring together and store all your customer information in a single database, making it easier to maintain and evaluate.
Moreover, it allows you to conduct examinations of large, complex data sets and use these raw facts and figures to draw relevant conclusions. The software does this through processes such as association, classification and anomaly detection to find patterns and attribute meaning to data.
There are various commercial advantages of using an analytical CRM, such as better identification of new revenue opportunities. Automated examination of customer behavior and past purchases can help you single out the most promising targets for upsells and cross-sells.
An analytical approach can also strengthen your understanding of where your sales, marketing and customer engagement efforts are bearing fruit, and where you're currently falling short and need to improve.
Introducing a collaborative CRM can help you deliver better results for your customers and ultimately improve retention and sales by placing a greater emphasis on the sharing of information across teams.
Optimizing communication, collaboration and data distribution across all relevant parties - which could include external stakeholders such as suppliers and vendors - can help you drive customer satisfaction by ensuring the relevant people and groups can access the information they need to do their jobs properly.
One of the most important functions of a collaborative CRM is interaction management. Every interaction a customer has with you is stored and made available to all relevant teams, helping people understand what the customer cares about, their pain points and what support they need on their journey towards buying from you.
A collaborative system can also prove particularly useful for relationship management after you have brought a new customer onboard. Once a sale is completed, the sales team can share the contact's preferences, priorities and other key pieces of data with other stakeholders, so the entire business can take a coherent approach to maintaining that relationship and turning a new buyer into a loyal customer.
Introducing a collaborative CRM could be a good option if you want to improve communication between departments and you're currently focused on customer retention and loyalty.