Do you really need a CRM system?

We talk to a lot of companies who are considering the implementation of CRM solutions, and many of them are uncertain on what CRM is, why they need it and what results it can deliver.

Whether your company needs a CRM system or needs to replace the current ‘CRM’ system really depends on how you interact with your customers, on your business model, on your service and financial targets and your competitors. One thing is certain: just putting a CRM system in place will not make you a more successful company. What will make your company stand out and make profit is to treat every single customer as if they are the ONLY customer you have. A CRM system will help you do that.

Every business, how small or big it is needs to instill the basics of a CRM mindset. The tools you use could be different, all the way from an efficient filing system to a state-of-the-art computer application. The keyword here is the mindset and the tools to support providing your customers with the best possible service or product.

Whatever you do, have one objective in mind: make processes simpler and more transparent to your customers and to your staff.

No company too small

A taxi company that we worked with in Kingston-upon-Thames is now asking the customers, along with the usual information like name, address and phone number, their e-mail addresses and birthdays. Recording the details of bookings they are now able to see the patterns for each customer, offer them prioritized service during peak times like holiday seasons, drive customer loyalty via complementary rides after every X bookings or on your birthday and more. You can also sign up for their mobile text and e-mail services to get the latest news about unexpected road conditions around Kingston and London and situation at major London airports.
The result: Over 200% increase in repeat business, dozens of new customers who have been recommended to use this taxi company by their friends and a fantastic reputation that will ensure a long term success.

Imagine the familiar scene: You are off to the airport on your business trip. The driver who picked you up a few times in the last couple of months turns up on time. He only knows your surname. After an exchange of ‘good morning’s it’s pretty much a silent trip to airport. He drops you off at the departure terminal. You pay him and off you go. What’s wrong here? In theory, nothing. He was on time, courteous and you caught your plane without any stress.

However, it could have looked like this: On the way to the airport the driver says “Do you want me to book your return taxi sir?” You say yes and he books it in his PDA for coming Thursday. He then says “I see it’s your birthday next week Mr Smith. We’d be delighted to offer a complimentary service, for up to 4 people, to a place within 10 miles of your home. Just give us a call whenever you want”. Sounds too good to be true? Not for loyal customers of Mike’s Cars in Kingston-upon-Thames.

How they did it?
Mike’s Cars saw 200% increase in business (taxi companies conveniently call them ‘jobs’) in the last 6 months. To complement their reliable and friendly service, Mike’s Cars worked with one of the Xenogenix team on a new, for a better word, Customer Relationship Management system.

Firstly, all 12 drivers had ‘passenger-on-board’ sessions to collate every piece of customer data they had in one spreadsheet. Everything in separate notebooks, pieces of paper and the dispatch system was consolidated

Second, customers were grouped based on their past ‘jobs’.

Third, a simple of form was designed to hand out to the passengers to ask for an update on their details and also opt-in for e-mail, text or phone correspondence.

Lastly, an off-the-shelf CRM package was implemented. Main criteria for selection were ease of use, ease of adding/changing data fields, reporting and data loading and extraction capabilities. This was necessary for the system to talk to the Despatch system.

Are we there yet?
These questions can determine your CRM needs:

  • Do you communicate with your customers using different means, e.g telephone, e-mail, web site etc?
  • Does everyone who communicates with a customer know what their coworkers said to them or did for them?
  • Is all customer information kept in one area or program for easy customer service reference?
  • Can you analyse the information by customer and offer them personalized service based on their buying patterns?
  • Do you know how many customer service issues each customer had and why?
  • What are your win, loss and no-decision rates?
  • What’s your lead turnaround time?
  • How many sales calls are completed per rep?
  • What’s the average amount of time required to complete each selling step?
  • How many calls are required to close an opportunity?
  • How much business do you have in your sales pipeline?
  • How do you rate your marketing or lead generation program effectiveness?

Act Now
Answer those questions, being brutally honest. Then start with the simplest changes you can make. Even if you don’t do anything, do the following 3 things:
1. Keep an electronic file for each customer and ask everyone in your company to record any related information in a chronological order in that file.
2. Consolidate all customer information in a central location, most likely an electronic spreadsheet or database.
3. Clean up your customer information and keep it clean all the time. Company Names, addresses, phone numbers, contacts, tax numbers, and whatever is important for you to do business with your customers.

CRM philosophy is simple: put the customer first. When your business looks at every transaction through the eyes of the customer, you can’t help but deliver a better experience to your customers—which in turn increases loyalty to your company. And, through customer-focused business practices, you often find new ways to streamline old methods and get rid of administrative overhead that no longer benefits you or your customers.