A Guide to Customer Relationship Management

Know more about customer relationship management and the benefits having one can bring your business.

businessman doing customer relationship management

What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) refers to the set of practices and techniques businesses use to improve and retain their relationships with their customers. CRM techniques are focused on managing the relationship between the company and the customer from the beginning prospecting stage, through the sales phase, and continuously throughout the expansion and healthy growth of the customer relationship.

A common way of carrying out a CRM system is by logging details from every email, phone call, and face-to-face meeting with the customer in the CRM software so that the entire team can review these notes before the next call and interaction. This can be product feedback of what they like or dislike or even need in the future from the product that can be used to mesh with other customers. 

What is its Importance?

A CRM system, for many businesses, is considered to be an essential part of ensuring long-term success and connections with customers. At its core, a CRM system collects customer information to be captured in one database where all information would live and be the source of truth. Some customer data essential to a CRM system are customers’:

  • Personal details
  • Buying habits
  • Past purchases 
  • Interactions with the company
  • Place or platform of purchase

This is important so that you don’t have different sales, customer success, and customer engagement staff duplicating each other’s work and misunderstanding each other on important talking points. Such situations end up giving the customer a bad experience as you are not understanding each other.

For example, if you didn’t have a CRM, you may end up with a situation wherein one salesperson from your team reaches out to an existing customer alongside another salesperson, but without considering the customer’s profile, needs, and data. In this situation, it is likely the customer will not be interested in your company any longer, or they may feel bothered instead. 

Without a CRM system, you can also potentially lose existing customers. By having a customer database in your CRM system, you can know what items or services to suggest and offer to your customers to address their needs. Similarly, a CRM system can also help predict possible trends in your business based on how your customers’ needs and wants are changing, and how your company responds to them. 

With a digital solution, CRM systems become more powerful as it allows users to access all the necessary data in one place in real time, as well as analyze them. Not only do you avoid work, but with the help of a digital tool, you can also better store your data for longer periods, ensuring nothing is lost in paperwork or mishandling. 

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Customer Relationship Management System Types

CRM System Types

There are many different types of CRM systems. These can be homegrown with Access and Excel products to enterprise tools that are robust and built for a purpose, such as Salesforce. You can also integrate all these software into one platform, such as SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor), for easier access and management. Finding what works for your business, your budget, and your customer base is key to the success of your CRM. 

The most common types of CRM systems that work for many are the following:

  • Collaborative — Where customer data is centralized in one place so marketing professionals and the sales team can access it together and collaborate 
  • Operational — Where the act of consolidating customer data is automated with computers and applications to give marketing professionals and salespeople more time to improve their connections with customers
  • Analytical — Where customer information comes from a variety of sources to view and understand patterns that may help improve customer satisfaction and relations, as well as create new products, predict trends, and future budgeting plans

FAQs about Customer Relationship Management

Anyone that interacts with a potential or existing customer or former customer uses CRM systems. This includes those who are looking for intelligence and data to understand customers’ behaviors such as a company’s: 

  • Business Development Manager
  • Sales Staff
  • Customer Success 
  • Customer Engagement 
  • Research and Product Teams

A CRM should be continuously evaluated, but doing so can be a big purchase. A CRM system is the lifeblood of your organization, as it should serve as the foundation of truth with your customers. The purchase of a CRM should not be taken lightly, as once you are into the build-out and growth of your CRM, it is usually there to stay. So take your time and find the right one that suits your needs.

In a way, all businesses must have a CRM system. While you can operate without a CRM system, you run the risk of missing documentation and a source of truth for your customer base. If you have more than a couple of sales staff and people who interact with customers, you should invest in a CRM for that continuity.

The right time to adopt or create a CRM is before you see your sales and customer engagement processes needing one. This can be right when your business is set up or sometime after. 

Gary Bonnett
Article by
Gary Bonnett
Gary is recognized for his extraordinary ability to help leaders translate the safety performance into actionable strategies and success. With an MBA from Texas A&M University, Gary has built upon his education with over 20 years of Life Safety experience with proven leadership in organizational transformation. He is an advocate for safety operations with a talent for turning some-times processes into full-time cultural change in a company.