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Oct 04 2011
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CRM: A business imperative during uncertain economic times

Featured on Dynamic Business magazine's website

Navigating through turbulent times is never easy, but today’s economic conditions are certainly challenging. The instinctive reaction is switch to defensive mode; cut all strategic projects and then wait until things improve. But retreating behind the bailey could actually prove to be more detrimental in the long term. Indeed, simple cost reduction on its own will not steer a business safely through the economic downturn. Businesses also need to examine how they can safeguard revenues and profitability, and particularly within their own customer base. Otherwise, they are just delaying the inevitable: more painful cost reductions and the very real possibility of sliding into an irrevocable decline.

Organisations can look for practical solutions that will help them to drive productivity and increase effectiveness across their operations. Increasingly, companies are turning to business software and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications in particular, to drive through the kind of operational improvements needed to survive and accelerate out of the downturn.

How CRM can help your organisation?

Lowering costs and driving productivity within your marketing operations

A CRM solution should allow you to develop a deep understanding of your customers’ needs enabling you to create a tailored proposition that can be communicated to them through their preferred marketing channels. Marketing analytics and reporting also ensure absolute accountability at all stages in the cycle, which means that the return-on-programme investment can be calculated with ease and marketing budget is optimised at all times.

Lowering costs and driving productivity within your customer service operations

A CRM solution should enable your company to roll-out web-based customer self-service quickly and cost effectively. From here, users can service their own information needs, track data and update the system without the requirement for customer service assistance and at the time and place of their choice. Additionally, you can maximise the synchronisation between your service agents and your customers, ensuring that cases are progressed in a timely manner and in accordance with service level agreements. Knowledge management capabilities make it easier to capture remedies related to specific issues which may recur over time; making sure that agents are not duplicating effort.

Enhancing command and control over the entire organisation for your senior executives

Reporting and dashboards provide instant insight into business performance across multiple criteria. Senior managers have the ability to validate forecast data with full drill-down to the underlying opportunities. Real-time visibility on revenue and budget variance ensures that decisions are based on accurate information, and corrective action can be taken earlier in the cycle when it has maximum impact. Integrated with your back-office applications, CRM provides a complete view of the business and streamlined end-to-end business management capabilities.

Selling more to existing customers may be the first priority during uncertain times but the important task of acquiring new customers cannot be overlooked. Without growth in customer numbers, any business runs the risk of exhausting its revenue base over the medium term. Selling to new prospects, however, is generally regarded as being five to ten times more costly than selling to an existing customer, so improving sales and marketing efficiency will be vital for growing your customer numbers during the downturn. CRM solutions have an important role to play in this regard — they allow you to extend the reach and effectiveness of your new business sales and marketing programmes through on-going process improvements, productivity enhancements and significant cost savings.

Share your thoughts with us about CRM below…

2 comments
Ryan Moore
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Very true Darren. In fact, we have just published a blog post from Chris Gordon at Swiftpage, reaffirming your points. Link: http://www.sagebusiness.com.au/blog/sage-emarketing/email-marketing-101-why-your-business-needs-to-be-doing-it Email marketing can be incredibly simple if a business is set up for it correctly.
Darren Flood
Monday, 21 November 2011
Some good points there Charlie. I read recently that email marketing generates a 40:1 ROI and is clearly one of the most effective forms of marketing for business to engage in. Having a CRM database that all key staff can enter contact details (including email and details on which segments the contact relates to) and an integrated e-marketing software package for doing the email broadcasting and reporting are key pieces of infrastructure most businesses can benefit from.
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