Customer relationship management (CRM)
Kirjoittanut: Samu Nyqvist - tiimistä SYNTRE.
Building a business network is a notable part of the studies here in Proakatemia. The specific course unit for that is implemented during the 2nd year of education. Throughout the course unit, the students learn to create a working and active customer network for their team enterprise. Team members are set to learn to answer questions about how to create a workable (customer) network, and what is meant by the term customer relationship management to begin with. These are the questions I will look into and reflect on in this essay.
HOW TO CREATE A WORKABLE CUSTOMER NETWORK?
Building a network is an indispensable part of any business. The way I see it, network to a business is like a web to a spider; it creates a safe and familiar platform to build upon and expand on. For fresh new businesses like that of SYNTRE Osk, however, forming the network can seem a bit scary and tedious. Fortunately, though, our team was born into an already-established community, whose roots are embedded deep into the entrepreneurial life of Tampere. We have the community of Proakatemia to back us up and provide us with the vital early connections we can build upon. Leveraging this social capital we already possess, is the first step you can take in building a network, according to Darrah Brustein, a former contributor to Forbes Magazine.
Another step a company can take to enlarge its network is by getting familiar with local organizations (Brustein 2018). In our case, this means different organizations in Tampere and Pirkanmaa regions. SYNTRE Osk has started to make its presence known to certain local entrepreneurial organizations, such as Tampere Entrepreneurship Society, Red Brick accelerator, and Platform 6. Although not every member of the team has been so eager to venture out and meet up with other companies or entities, those who have, have really brought important and helpful contacts to the team that we can use to develop our ideas and projects. A good example of this is Avokeittiö, a project run by our team members Seungyeon Shin and Thais Santos Araujo. They took part in a pre-accelerator program provided by Red Brick and managed to gain very valuable information, contacts, and validation related to the development of their business. Now they have a clearer vision and a network to go along with it.
Creating a workable customer network is a challenge, and there are unique ways for each organization to approach that process. The networks each company build are very dependent on the field they specialize in and the regions they operate in. However, there is one thing that is the same in all networks: the necessity to maintain them. To continue my analogy, a business must keep its network alive and well the same way a spider must keep its net intact. If the relationships with partners and customers are not managed, the network will deteriorate.
WHAT DOES THE TERM CRM MEAN?
The term customer relationship management, CRM, refers to the actions an organization takes to interact with its customers throughout the whole lifecycle of the relationship between them. Asking for feedback after a call, sending newsletters, or even sending out a tailored thank you note after a purchase are all examples of some classic ways to keep a relationship running with customers. The more personal, the better. It all comes down to customer retention; the entire point of CRM is to build positive experiences with customers to keep them coming back and to build a loyal customer base.
MAINTAINING BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE HELP OF CRM SOFTWARE
Building a loyal customer base can be highly challenging, especially when the customer base is large. In these cases, tailoring a personal B2C relationship is hard. However, with the help of technology, this process has been made easier. The term CRM is, in fact, more commonly used in relation with technology systems that companies can incorporate to maintain the loyalty of their customers and partners. CRM software is an IT-support tool, that gives full control over customer data, boosts information gathering, helps with customer surveys and sales/marketing strategies, and creates smooth solutions for customer support and analyses. Today, many CRM services integrate all parts of management related to business relationships into one platform. However, there are still CRMs that are designed to target a specific aspect of it:
Types of CRM (Investopedia 2022)
- Sales CRM:
- Drives sales and increases the pipeline of new customers and prospects. Emphasis is placed on the sales cycle from tracking leads to closing deals.
- Marketing CRM:
- Builds, automates, and tracks marketing campaigns, including identifying targeted customer segments.
- Service CRM:
- Integrates dedicated customer service support with sales and marketing. Often features multiple contact points including responsive online chat, mobile, email, and social media.
- Collaborative CRM:
- Encourages the sharing of customer data across business segments and among teams to improve efficiency and communication and work seamlessly together.
- Small Business CRM:
- Optimized for smaller businesses with fewer customers to give those customers the best possible experience. These systems are often much simpler, more intuitive, and less expensive to implement than enterprise CRM.
As seen above, CRM has use for every contact point in the lifecycle of a B2C relationship. Choosing the suitable CRM for your company’s needs really comes down to what is the size of the customer base, the required functions needed, and a price that fits the budget. CRM services that have an all-inclusive service are naturally going to cost more than those that focus on only one aspect of relationship management.
Hargrave, M. 2022. What Is CRM? Customer Relationship Management Defined. Investopedia. Updated 5.9.2022. Read on 12.10.2022. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/customer_relation_management.asp
Brustein, D. 2018. How To Begin To Build A Network. Forbes. Uploaded 18.11.2018. Read on 10.10.2022. How To Begin To Build A Network (forbes.com)