Extract greater value from existing CRM applications

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Michael Zirngibl, CEO, Angel.com
Michael Zirngibl, CEO, Angel.com

In this down economy, organizations must maximize the value they get from every available resource. For many, an underutilized CRM solution is a particular challenge. Strengthening relationships with existing customers is a priority, but improving these tools has traditionally meant costly investments in hardware, software and human resources.

Not anymore. With the advent of software-as-a-service (SaaS) technologies, your organization can easily and cost-effectively extract greater value from your CRM — and demonstrate greater value to your customers.

To be a truly useful tool, your CRM system must be set up to track all customer interactions through all channels, including phone calls, Web site clicks, e-mails and direct mail responses. Connecting your CRM system to your phone, for example, lets you easily capitalize on this highly-valuable form of customer contact.

By immediately updating your CRM system with customer activities as they occur, response time is shortened, and the accuracy of that response is increased. A phone-enabled CRM lets you recognize callers up front and route them to a favorite agent or customized set of menu options.  When you leverage the customer history data stored in your CRM system in real time, you create a personalized and winning experience for the caller.

Every organization knows all customers are not created equal. An intelligent CRM solution should help you not only track and collect complete customer data, but help you analyze it to draw meaningful, actionable conclusions that demonstrate real value to your best customers.

Start by defining what represents a successful interaction in your business, such as a purchase or registration. Then identify which interactions and contact patterns work for your best and most desired customers. This reporting and analysis framework will help your organization model successful processes after your best and most desired customers.

Perhaps the ultimate way to extract value from your CRM is to let it do some data-driven thinking for you. For example, your automated phone system can be set up to recognize your best customers the moment they call in and provide them with menu items, incentives and information tailored to their interests and history. You could also tie phone and web self-service portals directly to CRM data to proactively drive outbound calls or e-mails reminding customers of appointments, special offers or account notifications.

When customers feel as if your organization “knows” them intimately and makes their lives a little easier, you've locked in a strong value proposition that makes it tough for them to walk away.

Michael Zirngibl is President and CEO of Angel.com, a leading provider of fully hosted, speech-enabled IVR and call center solutions. Reach him at Zirngibl@angel.com.

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