CSR’s plus CRM, a Formula for Success or Exercise in Futility?

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Don on 17-12-2007

CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, software such as salesforce.com, Sage CRM, or the Goldmine product such as offered by reputable sellers like Longbow Consulting Group can be a love it or hate it relationship for you and your customers.  While salesforce.com and the SageCRM product offer an enormous degree of personalization they require  someone who has the programming knowledge for customization or you will need to invest what could amount to substantial dollars to get the product to work and perform to the standard necessary to meet the needs of most independent dealers.  While I have tried using the SageCRM product for some time it is so advanced and complicated I can’t make it perform to my standards without investing, what may amount to, several thousand dollars more.  I like the product but the issue here is that it is made to fit many kinds of industries and complicated sales processes and is very customizable to those kinds of businesses.  The Goldmine product as presented by Neil Saviano (Longbow Consulting) has already been customized to meet the needs of the typical office stationer.  It also incorporates an information funnel from your existing back office system to transfer customer information into the Goldmine product allowing you access to info that is useful and valuable.  I inquired about the capability ro integrate this kind of information funel in the SageCRM product and Sage estimated the cost to be in excess of $15K, if it was even possible.  There are other CRM products available but these specific CRM products I have some experience and knowledge in.

My bone of contention as it were is that a CRM system like any of these do have a great deal of value if used appropriately and regularly.  Staples uses, with great success, a CRM component in their systems and its function comes from a directive right from the CEO’s office.  They utilize it successfully and it drives sales.  Neither Office Depot not Office Max nor CorpEx make use of a CRM package.  A CRM package can help in many ways from reminding you to follow-up on a new customer or to highlight a potential problem customer that hasn’t ordered in sixty or ninety days.  With information that flows between your back office accounting system to your sales systems the CRM can be setup with many such reminders and can also send out email blasts or fax blasts.  (Does anyone still use fax blasts?) 

If you incorporate your CRM into reminders to your customer service team they are instantly able to identify customers that either need help, a reminder or perhaps they are over their credit limit and have just place an online order.  You can funnel info to and from your sales staff and with some CRM packages the sales team can remotely access their customer information.  Don’t cripple your staff with a lack of information, you are all on the same page and want to drive more sales to your business.  I know reps that have over six hundred accounts and I know for a fact that there is no way they can effectively mange that many contacts without some kind of contact management system.  Customers get ignored, customer service suffers and sales do not grow.  Your verbal and written statement of how great your customer service is isn’t worth the ink on the page.

Great customer service comes not only comes from great people but from the support they receive through your systems and the technology they utilize.  Who in your office champions the customer?  Are your efforts in customer service hampered by a lack of the proper technology or its function?  Have you ever called your office anonymously to place an order to see just how your staff performs?  Don’t let your efforts to provide great service be in vain.  Great technology is out there that can make your business and your customer service really stand out in the crowd. 

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