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An illustration of a computer with several charts on the screen, which are similar to the dashboards visible in a customer relationship management (CRM) system.

How A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System Can Help Your Business Succeed

TJ Kiely

Apr 28, 2024

Every business’s most valuable asset is its customers. If you want to better understand your customers and manage and grow your customer relations, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a must-have tool.

Finding the intersection of customer and company success has always hinged on a company’s ability to discover the fine details about their customers. What do they buy? How much do they spend? How did they find your company in the first place?

When you know what makes your customers tick, you can build on those successes to acquire new customers and grow existing accounts.

Before CRM, uncovering these little details was based largely on guesswork or disparate sources of knowledge. But as your business grows – and competition increases – it becomes more essential to see the data behind the customer lifecycle and store it in a single location.

Now, you may have heard of customer relationship management before, but you may still be wondering what the literal CRM meaning is – and we'll cover that first along with how can a CRM system do all of the above to amp up your sales, marketing, and PR. Let’s take a deeper dive.

Table of Contents:

What is Customer Relationship Management?

The literal CRM meaning is simply Customer Relationship Management. This encompasses everything from purpose-built CRM tools and software to the actual processes of managing customer relations.

When many people think of CRM, they envision a customer database that serves as a central source for all customer interactions. This database includes, but is not limited to:

  • Customer details, such as name, company, address, phone number, and email
  • Purchase history
  • Average order value and lifetime account value
  • Interaction history, such as phone calls, emails, and chat logs
  • Lead source 
  • Referral history 
  • Communication history
  • Service tickets
  • Engagement metrics, such as email clicks or website visits
  • Customer-provided feedback
  • Personal information, such as hobbies, interests, fears, motivations, and family details

Purpose-built CRM tools integrate some or all of these data points right out of the box. Many CRM tools are customizable so you can create your own fields and workflows. This helps you capture the information that matters most to your organization.

Why is CRM Important for Business?

When your fledging marketing or PR agency acquires its first customer, it’s easy to get to know more about them and remember the fine details. But as you start to grow, client relationship management becomes more challenging.

Maybe you branch out your social media marketing and start getting clients from different channels. Or maybe you start testing an email marketing strategy and want to find your most engaged clients and prospects. Whatever the case, CRM systems are designed for client relationship management at scale.

CRM software supports scalability by systematizing your approach to client relationship management. Many CRM tasks can be automated to make it less hands-on for your sales and marketing teams. All your customer data is available with a simple search and can be aggregated into custom reports to help you form important insights.

No matter how quickly your organization grows, your CRM scales with you. The processes you implement in a CRM strategy accommodate every new client on a consistent basis.

As a result, a few things happen:

  • Your customers benefit from a better experience. You have all the important data you need to serve them quickly and accurately
  • You can uncover untapped opportunities to grow accounts. Repeat your past successes with lookalike audiences.
  • You can improve your definition of customer satisfaction and deliver better experiences. Look at engagement metrics, feedback, and interaction history to make positive changes in your business.
  • Teams have better communication and are more productive. Essential customer information lives under one “roof” instead of disparate systems. Data is available in real-time to keep business progressing.
  • Most importantly, customers go from being treated as accounts to becoming deeply rooted relationships that build customer loyalty and customer retention. How your customers feel connected to your company has a direct effect on revenue and retention, and both loyalty and retention can be improved when you prioritize good relationships.

How CRM Improves Business Performance

Sales, marketing, and PR professionals are on the front lines of business growth. These roles are often considered the face of the company. They act as an initial point of contact for new customers and help to shape ongoing perceptions.

Because first – and ongoing – impressions carry so much weight, building relationships is key in driving business performance.

CRM tools take the guesswork out of maintaining strong relationships with your clients. This is a critical piece of any marketing strategy because selling to existing customers is easier and less expensive than acquiring a new customer.

In fact, the success rate of selling to a current customer is as much as 70%. Selling to a new customer has a max success rate of just 20%.

Using CRM for small business, companies can improve sales and marketing productivity and overall business functions by focusing on their best opportunities. For example, your CRM strategy might include reaching out to your most frequent buyers with new offers or special discounts.

Another key benefit: user productivity. CRM solutions help to systematize how your team connects with your customers.

Martech notes that 50% of CRM users have improved productivity by using mobile CRM applications. In addition, 65% are reaching their sales quotas.

When you bring new people into your flock, these systems can help them to quickly onboard with your company. They will pick up with your customers where others left off.  

Combined, the revenue growth and the efficiency savings can strengthen your bottom line and improve every customer interaction.

How CRM Improves Customer Experience

Building relationships with customers is the foundation for providing an optimal customer experience. When you can demonstrate that your customers are more than just another account to you, they feel valued and appreciated. It is becoming more important to understand and embrace this concept in marketing, as product and price alone are no longer enough to confer a competitive advantage.

Customer expectations for a great experience continue to climb. What’s more, 86% of customers say they are willing to pay more for a better experience.

However, meeting these expectations isn’t always easy. Chaos ensures when customer data lives in multiple places and multiple people on your team are interacting with them. It’s difficult to keep track of conversations and activities. You may feel like you don’t really know your buyers as well as you’d like. None of the above makes for a customer-centric experience.

CRM can flip the script on customer experience simply by providing a single thread of customer data. 

With the right data, you are better able to:

  • Identify and respond to your customers’ needs
  • Make appropriate recommendations
  • Quickly respond to requests
  • Provide a personalized, customer-centric approach to doing business

Every action and conversation is connected to the customer and accessed in the same location. This gives you a 360-degree view of every buyer.

Tipp: Use consumer insights tools like the Meltwater consumer insights platform and consumer intelligence suite to get access to the necessary data.

Now that you hopefully have an idea of what CRM systems are, let's look at what is CRM marketing.

How CRM Systems Support Marketing

So, what is (the role of) CRM in marketing? It all boils down to data.

Improving Marketing with CRM Data

Sales is the intersection of making the right offer to the right person at the right time. It’s up to marketing to find this intersection, ideally without costly trial and error.

Data supports better marketing because it allows you to better understand your customers. This includes the people that already buy from you and prospects who have shown interest in buying from you.

You have the benefit of seeing what campaign(s) they’ve responded to and comparing it to other marketing campaigns. Use this data to build on your previous wins, such as running social media ads that have performed well in the past.

A CRM initiative can maximize your data by segmenting your audience. Some ways you can segment include account value, location, lead source, or specific behaviors, among others. From there, you can develop a targeted marketing campaign that speaks directly to those customers.

CRM Drives Customer Relationship Marketing

CRM data supports customer relationship marketing on a one-to-one basis. What is relationship marketing, you might wonder?

Simply put, relationship marketing aims to encourage repeat purchases. The goal is to connect with customers beyond surface-level transactions.

Some relationship marketing examples include loyalty programs, phone calls to solicit customer feedback, customer-centric communities, and brand advocacy programs.

Deeper customer relationships take more time to nurture. But the long-term payoffs can make them well worth the time and effort.

For starters, loyal customers have higher lifetime values. And if they’re members of loyalty programs, they generate 12-18% more revenue than non-members.

Highly satisfied customers will become advocates for your brand. They will tout your products and services to family members, friends, and colleagues. In turn, this can help to reduce your marketing and advertising spend. Your customers are marketing on your behalf by sending you steady streams of referrals.

To transform your customers into brand advocates, you must help your customers feel connected to your company. They want to feel that your company values them and has their best interest in mind.

You can create these feelings when you know more about your customers and their needs. Data positions you to demonstrate why they’re more than just another transaction.

How CRM Improves Customer Support

A CRM platform provides end-to-end customer support for small businesses and enterprises alike. This includes ensuring a good experience before, during, and after the sale. 

Even best-in-class brands need to handle customer complaints from time to time. When you’re using customer relationship management to address these complaints, customer service teams can turn complaints into helpful opportunities.

For example, let’s say a customer called into your business because the dress they ordered doesn’t fit. Since customer satisfaction is your top priority, you can log the experience in your CRM and ensure a new dress is sent out right away. You can also save the tracking information under the customer’s account and let them know when the dress will arrive.

You might take this experience a step further by reviewing your size charts. Make the appropriate changes to ensure a better experience for customers moving forward.

Most importantly, customer complaints shouldn’t be seen as threats to your business. Rather, they can be chances to improve your customer service.

Aim to provide a relevant, timely, desirable outcome. The way you handle a complaint can ensure customer success and actually help you build good customer relationships. 

How CRM Helps Sales

Your sales team depends on marketing’s ability to target relevant customers that are most likely to buy. When marketing teams are empowered to do their best work, sales should naturally follow.

Your sales team tends to spend more one-on-one time with your customers compared to your marketing team. Once customers respond to marketing and enter the sales process, your sales team’s priority is to take customer relationships to the next level. They will continue nurturing them, even after the initial sale.

According to Salesforce, 46% of leaders believe that deeper customer relationships are important for sustaining success. These deeper relationships are supported by CRM, allowing sales teams to: 

  • Explore customer challenges and priorities
  • Recommend relevant products and services
  • Respond effectively
  • Manage the entire customer lifecycle

Many of the tasks in CRM can be automated. Examples of CRM automation include setting appointments, follow-up reminders, and personalization. This helps your sales team to effectively manage their time and scale their efforts without sacrificing the quality of service.

Leverage a CRM to Succeed

Customer relationship management supports multiple business objectives in a single system. From marketing automation to creating a sales pipeline, CRM technology is a tool worth trying.

As you’re growing your marketing or PR agency, a CRM system can provide a consistent, reliable anchor for your operations. It also allows you to keep your most valuable asset – your customers – at the heart of everything you do.

Once you understand the CRM meaning and the value of customer relationship management, your next steps are to select a CRM system and integrate your CRM strategy. Then, sit back and watch your customer relationships flourish.