Customer relationship management (CRM) refers to the principles, practices, and guidelines that an organization follows when interacting with its customers. From the organization’s point of view, this entire relationship not only encompasses the direct interaction aspect, such as sales and/or service related processes, but also in the forecasting and analysis of customer trends and behaviors, which ultimately serve to enhance the customer’s overall experience. [Source: Investopedia]
CRM is more than just creating a list of names and email address [which is usually a direction issued to the store teams to do]. CRM allows retail organizations to build comprehensive records and profiles of every customer that engages with their brand. In a time when every retailer, in order to thrive and survive, needs to have an omnichannel strategy and presence – Customer Relationship Management allows us to maintain and personalize the relationship our brand has with our customers, across all platforms, in order to best react to and deliver on their needs.
CRM goes beyond the basic relationship of a customer coming into the store, making a purchase and leaving the store or purchasing online. The importance of CRM expands as we start to see the customer research their potential purchases. They identify a myriad of qualities [price, description, etc.] they are looking for in the product/service before they decide to close the transaction. As the organization’s business grows, the connections that are made grow more sophisticated and complex. Today’s shoppers are smart, savvy, extremely knowledgeable, and empowered. Retail organizations are compelled to share information across departments and teams who are making contact with the same customers to ensure a consistent level of interaction and information provided based on the customer’s preferences:
- Social Media
- Public Relations
- Customer/Technical Support
CRM is beneficial and necessary to supporting the retail organization and the various teams within them to effectively collaborate with all of their colleagues and their customers. It allows retailers to send it’s customers relevant emails, it supports customer habits during physical shopping trips and virtual shopping trips, and gathers invaluable insights across social media platforms and conversations to gain a holistic point-of-view for the organization’s health at any given time.
“WHAT GOT YOU HERE WON’T GET YOU THERE”
If there is one thing we can predict in retail is that we will experience change, often! Retail technology and customer behaviour is evolving at this very moment. Customers are becoming more connected. There is a constant demand for improvement and innovation to capture their attention, business, and brand loyalty.
CRM compels and drives this need for constant growth and relationship maintenance and can react to the changing/evolving needs of the customer and provide invaluable information that retail organizations can proactively identify and implement in order to satisfy the changing needs, trends, and wants of their customer.
THE BASICS OF CRM
Being able to understand “why” behind CRM’s critical importance to the business and how it effects the of the health of the organization and what role your team/department plays in this helps to build credibility around the absolute need for delivering a great customer experience when you are in a customer-facing position. Here are some basics for understand the role CRM plays:
- Understand That There Is Not A Single Source of Truth: Building profiles includes the customer’s physical store habits and online habits and how they interact with the brand on the various social media platforms. You need all of these pieces to build a comprehensive profile of your customer.
- CRM Delivers Visibility To The Customers Needs: Being able to provide customers with real-time benefits/promotions/exclusives when they come into your store allows the customer-facing employees to assess and respond to the customer’s personal preferences and give the team and the brand the opportunity to deliver a high-level, personalized experience.
- Provides Trend Analysis And Forecasting: It helps retail organizations keep pace with the evolving consumer habits. Product assortment, pricing, promotions, etc. – collecting specific information and appealing to the demands for your brand’s products/services keeps your brand relevant and important to the customer.
- Retail Organizations Can Become More Proactive: Retailers today are very reactive – our industry always has been. A great CRM program helps us scale our business to keep pace with the customers expectations without falling behind and having to scramble to catch up. It supports organizational health and an opportunity to investment in things like training and development, that will ensure our employees are also able to elevate their level of knowledge to provide an exceptional levels of customer engagement.
CRM is a critical tool for any business today. Understanding the part each individual plays in supporting the relationship with the customer is absolutely imperative to the company’s health and growth. Every employee and department plays a role in how we are cultivating and fostering relationships with our customers and creating loyalty, sustainability, and recognition for and around our brand.