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CRM in SMEs

In June 2011, BSI Business Systems Integration AG surveyed executives at the Swiss CRM Forum about CRM. 77 % of the questioned are already familiar with a CRM system. For 37 %, the CRM software is even a key working tool. But why do SMEs need a CRM system?  To answer this question, it is worth looking at the current situation of the medium size enterprises: the stress of competition on SMEs grows. The customers are pleased to see an increase in the number of products offered on the market. He can pick from a wide selection of proper items for him. But, this also means that the products are interchangeable for the buyers. It is for him no longer necessarily a reason to stay loyal to a specific product. If he buys it from a competitor, the company usually notices it when the second or third items are also bought from another supplier. In the worst case, it is too late to win him back as a customer. If a customer diverts from a company, this must counteract early.

With the increasing number of suppliers, the demand of customers increases as well. They want as quickly as possible qualified and individual attention. If they receive or are under the impression not to receive any appreciation from the company, they will change sooner or later their providers. Due to the high number of competitors, he can pick the company where he feels he is best looked after. For the enterprise, this means higher costs in customer service.

And also the internal processes of medium-sized companies follow frequently a trend: the workload of staff increases, but not the division of labour.  If an employee is away, on sick leave for example, his work remains untouched since none of his colleagues is confident enough in this field of work to be able to substitute him. If an employee leaves the company, valuable knowledge is also lost.

One gets clear: it is not longer enough to sell a product to a customer. The tie between customer and enterprise must be consolidated. And loyalty can only be won by customer satisfaction. The customer wants to be individually cared for.  To this end, he needs to be addressed in a targeted way. However, this can only happen if the company masters customer knowledge.

In addition to the external communication, the internal communication of the enterprise needs to be taken into account. Vast amounts of information are exchanged and forwarded via different transport route such as telephone, email and fax. These communication channels must be combined to make the transparent flow of information and make them available to all employees. Only then processes can be defined more effective and more efficient.

A CRM system to support and optimize

A CRM system is the appropriate tool for your needs. All information is documented there: a knowledge database is created that is accessible at any time.  Thus, for field service employees, the visit to customers is no longer a “journey into the unknown”. By opening their CRM system, they can have all the information they need to prepare the appointment. They learn, for example, that the customer hasn’t bought anything for a long time, that he has recently filed a complaint, or that he was invited to an event but hasn’t respond yet. Now, the sales representative has the possibility to act accordingly when visiting. The office staff always keeps an overview of offers and arrangements made by sales representatives without having to look intensively for information. Important information is no longer lost and all employees from sales to service find in the CRM system the data they need. This allows them to be faster, more capable and more responsive. This results in better customer relations, increasing customer satisfaction – and a growing customer loyalty. Even with the acquisition of new customers, the CRM system fully supports the sales department.

In addition to increasing your customers’ satisfaction, the employee satisfaction increases as well. Evaluations and analyzes of the CRM software enable better planning and improved processes – which in turns stimulate further growth of the company.The standardization and automation of workflows relieve the staff, it is easier for example, in accounting, to write offers based on transferred data with pre-defined templates, or to manage substitutions. As a result, not only the contact to customers improves but also the operating environment.

Standardized processes also mean a significant saving of time and subsequently lower costs. Satisfied customers provide for increasing sales. Marketing is also pleased with words of praise of the customers, as they are a valuable potential for referral marketing.

 

In summary, the introduction and the proper use of a CRM system increase on one hand the efficiency in marketing, sales and services and on the other hand the satisfaction of customers and employees.