Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, may be defined in many different ways – and the variety of definitions can be all over the place. For example, some people think of CRM as mainly being a software product, as in “We just implemented a new CRM software package at our company”; while others think of it more as a business strategy, as in “We’ve adopted a CRM strategy at our company that will help us support our customers better.” Still others think of CRM as a set of operational processes or business applications, as in “We’ve implemented a new set of business guidelines that our employees will be using to keep customers satisfied.”
As you can see, there are many ways to define or explain CRM – but the common thread that runs through all of these definitions is that CRM – no matter how you define it – can be used to make it easier for both your company – and you – to keep your customers satisfied
To avoid any potential confusion about what CRM really is, we prefer to define it somewhat broadly as “a general way of doing business, built on a customer-focused strategy, and executed by trained personnel who are empowered with the right tools and processes to provide customers with the desired levels of support and support”. As such, CRM is neither a “product” nor a “service”. It is simply a way of doing business that focuses squarely on the customer.
One of the best ways to understand what CRM is all about – and how it can ultimately make your job easier – is to look at each of the individual words that make up the name, and see exactly how they interact with one another.
Basically, CRM is the ability of the services provider (that is, you and your company) to Manage the Relationships it has with its Customers. Just as the sign of a good manager is his or her ability to get the most out of their employees and keep everyone both happy and productive, the same guidelines apply to CRM. By adopting a CRM “way of doing business”, your company – and you, as an ambassador of the company – will also be depended upon to ensure that customers receive all of the service and support they require to keep their business systems and equipment up and running. And by doing so, you will continually be showing them that you are doing everything possible to meet their service and support needs, as well as everything it takes to keep them satisfied.
CRM is what organizations put into it. Nothing more, and nothing less. The trouble is that some organizations still do not recognize the importance of CRM – or even if they do, they still don’t quite know how to make it work all the way down to the individual customer level. They understand that CRM is important – and, in fact, essential – but they may not know how to effectively implement and manage it.
However, this is where you can contribute the most – right down to the grass roots, customer face-to-face level, where it so important to reflect your best capabilities and performance. Ultimately, your company’s CRM program must belong to you. It must be embraced by you, practiced by you, measured by you, and managed by you. Remember – you’ll need to constantly monitor your company’s – and your own – performance, because your customers are already doing so!