Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Corporate or Association Membership Mgmt: Top Features to Look for When Deciding on Your CRM

Lewis Carroll is quoted as saying "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."

Unfortunately, I believe this is very true with CRM systems. These complex, time-intensive behemoths can be confusing.

But, your CRM system is the backbone of your member/customer communication. We count on our CRM to give us flexibility to communicate in any fashion our members/customers want to communicate in, to track the communications, and thru analytics and deeper analysis, to understand and anticipate their needs and levels of satisfaction.

From receiving your members' messages to responding to them, you count on your CRM to help you understand and address not only the obvious but also the 'implied.'

When developing a multi-channel campaign, I often hear that the CRM can't support this kind of activity or we "...can't track that kind of information." This is frustrating for my clients and certainly no walk in the park for me.

However, if you are looking to change your CRM, we all know that this is a long and very complex task that will require from 12 to 24 months of time from you and your team.

I was recently reminded of my own 'conversion experiences' the other day (I've run circulation departments for large publishing houses and have lead conversions of those files several times) and found a whitepaper by Focus Research entitled "10 Hosted CRM Features to Help Build Customer Loyalty: How to improve close rates and average deal size with the right CRM solution and features" that I thought might be helpful to those of you looking to invest in your CRM software or even looking to take the BIG BUCK LEAP and buy a new one.

  1. Lead Management: Lost revenue is often a result of allowing prospects to fall through the cracks. With lead management, however, every lead is promptly routed to the right salesperson. What’s more, leads can be tracked and managed through the entire sales cycle, from initial identification to final sale. 
  2. Feedback Management: By capturing customer feedback across all channels of communication, salespeople can capture a better understanding of the needs, wants and buying patterns of their customers. Furthermore, armed with feedback from countless touch points, a company can establish the processes required to deliver an optimum customer experience. 
  3. Order Management: When more than one department plays a part in processing an order, the margin for human error grows, as does the mound of paperwork. With order management, however, quotes are easily converted to orders, modified and saved in a single system. 
  4. Territory Management: Keep your sales reps from stepping on each others’ toes with territory management, which easily creates sales territories and manages territory-based processes with workflow rules and reports. 
  5. Email Management: One surefire way to anger your customers is by failing to respond to their emails. These days, email correspondence is used to log complaints, issue requests and offer feedback. Fortunately, email management can chronicle customer-related communications with automated tracking of customer emails. As a result, emails can be responded to in a timely fashion, and end users can establish alerts if a message has not been handled within a predetermined time frame. 
  6. Contact Management: When it comes to staying on top of your customers, Microsoft Outlook is simply not enough. That’s why most CRM solutions include a contact-management component to provide employees with a complete, 360-degree view of their customers. Sales reps can view all contact and account information, as well as a customer’s purchasing history, from a central location. And reps can better manage their to-do lists by establishing alerts notifying them of upcoming tasks and events so that each customer is treated in an individual manner. 
  7. Reporting: From standard templates to heavily customized documents, CRM tools can generate detailed reports featuring contact information, opportunity pipeline information, lead-status analyses and specific customer case studies. In the end, these reports are an ideal way to organize a company’s collection of customer information and insights. 
  8. Opportunity Management and Forecasting: Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Opportunity management and forecasting provides a complete view of the sales and production pipeline so that businesses can accurately and quickly handle the orders they’re generating. 
  9. Marketing Campaign Analysis: How do you know if you’re getting the bang for the buck you’ve invested in a marketing campaign? CRM solutions can help monitor and analyze your advertising efforts, from trade shows to direct mail, so that every marketing dollar spent is spent wisely. 
  10. Marketing Revenue Tracking: So positive customer feedback isn’t enough to convince upper-management that a costly marketing campaign produced results? With marketing revenue tracking, a company can identify the marketing activities that generate the most sales revenue by directly linking every sales dollar back to its related campaign.
 Good luck.

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