The Service Advocate…


What is Customer Relationship Management?
Last week we discussed how to deal with customer complaints. We also identified six simple steps to follow to always guarantee customer satisfaction at the end of a complaint.

This week we will discuss the term Customer Relationship Management or Customer Service Management.

What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?  What are your needs as a customer? Are they met by any business? Are you a loyal customer to a specific company? Why do you like doing business with this specific company?
CRM is the new buzz phrase in the industry and everyone is trying to integrate it into their businesses. Providing a customer with good customer service is not enough anymore, businesses are moving a step forward now.
CRM, in its broadest context, is managing all interactions or business relationship with your customers. CRM generally refers to software that companies can utilise to assist them in managing their customers.

However, companies can take advantage of many of the principles of CRM and integrate it into their businesses. The principle objectives of CRM are to find and acquire new customers; nurture and retain existing ones; and to entice former customers to come back.

In today’s competitive world, businesses are competing for the same markets. Hence, businesses are looking for a competitive edge that can assist them in capturing a larger percent of market share. CRM is the key; it has a direct relationship to revenue and growth of any business.
Customers are at the centre of CRM. Many businesses have realised that by focusing on their customers they can build successful companies.
When a customer interacts with a business, they see it as one entity, even though they may deal with different employees at different times.

As a customer, we do not like to repeat ourselves every time we have to deal with someone in a different department.
There should be communication between the employees of the business and they should share information. What CRM does, is that it should capture that information and the information should be available to all employees interacting with that customer. Businesses can enjoy the benefits of this because the customer will leave with a sense that the business cares and that the business tried to make the process easier for the customer. This is adding value for the customer and customers enjoy a hassle free process.

Like everything else, customers have a life cycle and it is the business that has to ensure that this is a long life cycle versus a short life cycle. The life cycle of the customer starts with acquiring the customer and ends with retaining good customers. It is then, the business’s responsibility to ensure that from the initial stage to the final stage that they carefully organize and manage each customer interaction.

Customers are always looking for value for their money. Companies can start a customer profile from the time of the first purchase, they can document every interaction with the customer.

Hence, when the customer encounters any problems and contacts the business, the business can access all the information it needs without having to ask the customer. It will create a one to one relationship with the customer and the business can advise customers or offer support services if they have a problem.

Do you think it is cheaper to retain your existing customer or to acquire new ones? If customers know your business and are happy with the products and services you offer, you will not need to spend revenue to attract them. You can work on various strategies or loyalty programmes to retain these customers.

Whereas, if you lose your customers and have to attract new ones, you may need to spend more revenue on marketing and promotion.

Happy customers are always a good form of advertising for businesses. If customers are happy with the products and services provided, they will tell other people and encourage them to do business with your company.

Hence, it makes more economical sense to retain the customers you have by adding more value to your product and their customer experience. It offers the company an avenue to generate income and grow positively.

For any business, the bottom line is always profit, but that does not mean you need to compromise the services provided to your customers. They are the reason you are in business. CRM is a simple way to learn about your customers, their needs and wants and cater to them.

It is about offering a value added product that your customer will enjoy and that would exceed their expectations. We should all strive to offer good customer service and build a successful relationship with our customers.
(Nadine King and Tameca Sukhdeo-Singh  can be contacted at: