Whether a startup, a small business or an established company, the customer relationship is absolutely essential to all aspects of success. Targeting new markets, retaining customers and building brand loyalty sustains and scales any business. And the importance of the customer relationship affects all departments of a business, from marketing to customer service, from human resources to product design. That's why an effective customer relationship management system (CRM) is a fundamental part of business management.
Students enrolled in the online Master of Business Administration with a Business Analytics Specialization at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) will take a course in CRM, familiarizing themselves with current concepts, methods and applications. As consumer media consumption habits, marketing strategies, customer service expectations, and data analytics and software grow, understanding and implementing effective CRM is crucial for those in business leadership positions.
What Is CRM?
Salesforce.com defines CRM as "a technology for managing all your company's relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers." In other words, a CRM platform keeps records on all customer data and available consumer information, whether it is purchase history and customer service interactions or engagement with marketing campaigns. All of this data is referenced when building customer service interactions, relationships and new markets.
An effective CRM system optimizes operations by analyzing this data to streamline customer service interactions. At the same time, CRM is a tool that can aid in increasing efficiency and accuracy of targeted marketing campaigns and consumer research. In addition, CRM analysis can inform product development and efficient investment, increasing both current and future profits and scalability.
How Has CRM Changed in Modern Times?
As technology has developed, the systems and tools used for tracking, documenting and analyzing customer data have, too. In the beginning, extensive files stuffed into cabinets were augmented by recordings of phone calls. Computer technology advancements led to electronic data filing and input into spreadsheets for quick access, research and analysis. Voice recognition and dictation software advanced the documentation of conversations, whether in person or on the phone.
Then the internet changed everything. Verbal communications have been replaced to a great degree with digital communication through email, chat rooms, text, social media posts and messaging. Now artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming messaging and customer inquiry response, thereby streamlining the customer experience.
Customer service interactions and marketing strategy diversified to incorporate these varied communication and customer engagement formats. Digital video and audio development, internet bandwidth improvements and cheaper modes of media production brought innovation in marketing and advertisement techniques.
Further, the vast development of big data tracking and analytics software has given businesses of all sizes relatively inexpensive access to immense amounts of consumer information and accurate tracking of customer activity. Intranet systems and cloud-based collaborations increase efficiency as consumer data seamlessly, instantaneously flows across all departments.
How Can Modern CRM Systems Be Implemented Effectively Across Business Operations?
It is possible, arguably necessary, to integrate CRM into every business operation. Successful CRM systems use extensive data analytics to drive more than just the quality of customer service interactions. Data generated, analyzed and incorporated in a business's CRM system has become an important driver for successful, targeted marketing campaigns, new market development, market-responsive product development, and iterative approaches to business plan and strategy revision.
CRM data even drives human resource management and decision-making regarding which operations should be automated and which should be outsourced. These developments lead to redefined job responsibilities and hiring decisions based on the specific skills and expertise needed for an employee's modified role within the customer service model.
These are times of rapid change in customer interaction trends, data analytics, media marketing and technology development. Data analytics specialists, marketing directors, managers and administrators can use the advanced knowledge they gain through SIUE's business analytics coursework to apply effective CRM across operations, optimizing their business to increase scalability, profits and overall success.
Learn more about the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville online MBA in Business Analytics program.
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