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Harness customer data to fuel your growth potential

Disparate customer data is a headache for SMEs, but unifying this data can create profitability

Sage team member, Gary McKnight, explores how SMEs can use the power of CRM to build a more intelligent company.

It’s well known that establishing strong customer relationships is central to the success of a business. And, today more than ever before, there is a wealth of data that can be gathered by various parts of any business, showing the history of any given customer—from their marketing preferences to their previous purchases.

Harnessing this data can have a significant impact on both customer satisfaction and your bottom line. For example, according to Harvard Business Review, a 5% reduction in your customer defection rate can increase your profits up to 85%.

Big businesses have successfully built infrastructures to unify the various types of data using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. But, is it possible for SMEs to adopt versions of these systems to leverage the benefits of technology—recording and analysing sales, marketing and customer service data?


The issues faced by SMEs when it comes to data

Although gathering detailed data from every single customer might sound daunting, the truth is that your business probably already has it filed. The problem arises not from the data itself, but rather how and where that data is stored—as well as how easily it can be delved into.

For example, a 2017 study from Deloitte found that 70% of small and midsize businesses are still using basic systems. 31% of companies have no system or paper-based records, and a further 39% use spreadsheet-based systems.

It’s not hard to foresee that, as these businesses experience growth and collect more data, those records will become more fractured and harder to utilise.

But, within that data is the key to unlocking real growth potential. By unifying all the different communications and sales information you have on a customer, you can create a compelling picture of your relationship with them. That means anticipating their future needs, analysing their purchase journey, and providing them with a superior service thanks to your in-depth knowledge of their wants and needs.

Large businesses have been using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to pull together this information into a form that offers an effective single customer view. The effect can be transformational, allowing for better customer service and more profitability.

For SMEs, this approach has often been viewed as being out of reach due to cost and complexity. Thanks to advances in technology, and several software partners building solutions aimed at smaller enterprises, the time has never been better for SMEs to unleash the power of a CRM.


What is a CRM?

At its most basic, a CRM facilitates the collection, organisation, and management of customer information. Importantly though, this is not just from one source (such as the recording of a sale). Instead, CRM software can track, record, and manage every communication between your business and a customer or prospective customer in a holistic way.

For example, imagine that a potential customer interacts with some advertising from your business. They download a brochure from your website by submitting their email. A month later, they purchase an item from you. Two weeks after that, the customer contacts your customer service department on social media to discuss a potential issue. That’s three separate interactions, to three separate departments (marketing, sales, and customer service), on three separate channels.

A well-built CRM will be able to pull together all of those communications into one single database that can be accessed quickly and easily by any department. So, the marketing team can see past purchases and what marketing efforts worked, sales can see what pain points the customer has experienced, and customer services can view the customer’s owned products.

As we mentioned above, this kind of system would traditionally have required significant investment and a small army of in-house IT specialists to implement successfully.

Fortunately, this is no longer the case.

Today an SME, with the support of a quality IT partner, can implement a cutting edge CRM system, such as Sage 200cloud, quickly and with minimum fuss. And, once embedded into your business, that CRM can lead to a step-change in the way your company works.

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Five key benefits of a CRM


Build better customer relationships

No matter where your customer is on their journey with your business, a real-time view of their challenges and preferences will enable you to build stronger, more long-lasting relationships with them.

Rather than bombarding them with marketing messages or suggesting advice that’s not relevant, you can ensure that every time you communicate with a customer, you are strengthening your relationship.

Unleash the potential of your employees

Your marketing, sales, and customer service teams will always hit a ceiling in their capabilities when operating in silos.

The 360-degree customer view provided by a CRM means that your teams can gain precious insight and information on each one of your customers. That means team members will be able to utilise data from across the business to really raise their game.

Maximise on your marketing and sales spends

Generally speaking, marketing and sales budgeting can be something of a dark art. With a CRM system in place, you’ll be far better positioned to see precisely how your spend is performing.

Over time, you’ll also be better equipped to forecast required budgets for future product launches and marketing activity. It’ll put an end to ‘finger in the air’ guesswork and gut-instinct sales practices.

Get better business insight

When customer data from various departments of your business is pulled together into a single report, it can provide a valuable snapshot of overall business performance.

Without a CRM, trawling through the separate data sets would cost time and money, making insight difficult. Once a CRM is implemented, you can easily dive into this data and pull reports as and when you need them. And that same insight can guide your business forward with laser precision.

Improve customer satisfaction

Through the systematic tracking and organisation of individual sales and service data, every contact you make with each of your customers will provide value and lead to better customer satisfaction.

Say, for example, a customer recently experienced an issue with one of your products. By pulling up their file on your CRM system, you’d be able to instantly see that this customer spends significantly more than the average. Therefore, offering a discount on any future purchase will be a worthwhile investment for you and a welcome gift for them.

That simple exchange has likely helped secure future income for your business and encouraged brand loyalty from the customer.

Ready to make the upgrade to a CRM system?

Chat to one of our experts to discover how Thinc could transform the way you do business.

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