We all know the meaning of CRM – Customer Relationship Management. The term CRM is also used to describe a software that helps a business organise and manage customer data. As and when the business grows, the SMEs become aware that they can no longer continue the informal and regular personal interaction with their customers. Hence, CRM system can be a strategic tool for retaining customers and acquiring new ones. “Customer Relationship Management is ‘sine qua non’ in doing business in the current scenario. It constantly assesses performance with systematic feedback from customers thus constantly renewing the organisations adaptability in the changing business environment,” says Ajit A Kamath, CMD, Arch Pharma labs Ltd, winner of the Best SME in the Pharma & Chemicals sector in the Emerging India Award 2006.
Speaking about CRM in SMEs, Basil Daniells, Regional Sales Director – Middle East, North Africa and India, Epicor Software Corporation (a leading provider of ERP Software to mid-market companies) says that now, with increased competition and rapidly expanding customer needs, SMEs realise the importance of leveraging CRM software for customer retention and customer delight.
A modern CRM solution enables the SME to manage the entire lifecycle of a customer, from generating leads to closing sales, and to providing superior support that results in additional business. It provides integrated sales and customer support functionality that helps organisations acquire, retain and grow profitable long-term customer relationships.
As an SME grows, customer service can often be a key differentiator in a fiercely competitive market. “CRM is a very successful module and for us it has been very beneficial. Our customers can just log in through the system and it is integrated to our backend. So with just a click of a button, our customers can get online information on pricing, design and so on,” says Mamta Apparao, Chairperson, Kama Jewellery (India) Pvt Ltd, winner of the best SME in Gems and Jewellery Sector at the Emerging India Awards 2007.
As far as SMEs are concerned, they need software that adapts to their customer care needs while still being less expensive. “CRM is the backbone of any industry and it also plays a vital role in SME industries; especially construction industry, which is totally a customer-oriented business whereby there is always direct contact with customers. CRM has to be used on a regular basis so as to add satisfaction to the buyers and add more prospective buyers” says Arun Kumar Kedia, Director, Garnet Constructions Ltd.
Now, how can SMEs leverage CRM solution for better customer service? Mr Daniells feels that for most companies, responding to customers in a timely, meaningful manner can be the difference between keeping their business and losing them to a competitor.
A world-class CRM solution can help the SME deliver first-rate service to its customers while controlling costs. This results in a strong return on investment through happy customers who make additional purchases and generate new business through referrals.
A CRM solution allows to easily gather, organise and share customer information, making possible a real-time, two-way flow of communication between the SME and its customers. Case management features empower the SME to deliver timely, accurate, complete and clear information to customers. The customer service desk can easily open, track, report on and close calls. Moreover, follow-up reminders can be attached to calls to ensure commitments are kept, and even allow managers to prioritise workflow.
“With CRM in place, our customers need not wait for their e-mails or queries to be answered. Ninety per cent of the questions asked on a daily basis can be answered using CRM. Moreover, CRM is an ideal tool for us as we can reach global customers who are interested in our jewellery,” says Ms Apparao.
The retail sector is currently experiencing an amazing growth and many SMEs are tapping it. “It is becoming increasingly important in this sector to have multi-channel analysis of customer data and allow every sales channel to personalise the company’s product/service offerings by understanding the customers’ needs,” Mr Daniells further says.
CRM has attained great significance post globalisation. “In the modern globalised business world, to maximise customer service, an enterprise has to align its CRM strategy with that of its suppliers, customers and other partners in the global value chain. Latest technological frameworks like Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) allow the CRM applications within enterprises to be extended to the external applications of its customers and business partners. This promotes continuous performance initiatives and service and support quality levels within the organisation or across the value-chain,” states Mr Daniells.
On a final note, it should be understood that simply installing CRM software does not ensure a successful customer relationship. To achieve this, business processes and the company culture both have to be redesigned to focus on the customer. In short, CRM software can only be a tool to implement customer strategy. The focus, always, must be on the customer.
For companies big and small CRM has become a necessity - SMEs in particular have realised its vast importance.
We all know the meaning of CRM – Customer Relationship Management. The term CRM is also used to describe a software that helps a business organise and manage customer data. As and when the business grows, the SMEs become aware that they can no longer continue the informal and regular personal interaction with their customers. Hence, CRM system can be a strategic tool for retaining customers and acquiring new ones. “Customer Relationship Management is ‘sine qua non’ in doing business in the current scenario. It constantly assesses performance with systematic feedback from customers thus consta