To say that COVID-19 took the world by storm is to sell it short. Almost every economy in the western hemisphere has suffered in one way or another due to quarantine and the consequences it brought. Governments had to balance their policies between restricting daily life and collapsing the economic system, a position no politician wants to ever be in.
To make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic was like a slap to the face and a wake-up call at the same time. Like it happened with 9/11, we became painfully aware of how delicate society’s balance really is in just the blink of an eye. We quickly realized that the way we were living our lives and our daily routines was a biohazard risk.
That’s the kind of realization that doesn’t really go away. I firmly believe that a new scheme has been ingrained in our collective psychology, one that makes us more aware of our hygiene, of our proximity to others, of how we interact with the world, and one that will make a shiver run down our spine whenever someone sneezes.
Everyone is “adopting” to this new world, even retail businesses, and no, that’s not a misspelling. We are literally adopting new technology to cope with a world that demands a more conscious interaction between human beings. Most of these changes were coming sooner or later, we just skipped a few steps on the timetable.
The Personalized Experience and Social Media
Client relationship management is a pivotal concept for any small-scale business. In fact, a close relationship with their clients and a personalized experience is their biggest asset against the robot-like efficiency of big corporations. Yes, you may get your stock products faster from one of the titans, but as soon as you need a custom order or some support, the friendly interaction suddenly turns sour.
To drive the point home, their interaction is becoming less personal as more and more businesses are relying on web-stores and social media to catch new clients and make sales. At that point, they are losing one of the few advantages they have against giants like Amazon.
For that very reason, businesses need to rethink the way they relate with their clients and adopt new approaches to engagement, brand loyalty, and establishing a deep-rooted relationship without resorting to face to face interactions. Fortunately, CRMs have been helping with that for ages, and as technology advances, they are becoming more refined.
As companies rethink their CRM they need to figure out what they can do to stay in touch with their clients and keep that experience of “talking to a real human”. As such, social media integration is key to a good CRM.
CRMs and AI
It’s such a shame that so many salespeople see CRMs as a hassle instead of an opportunity. But honestly, it’s hard to blame them, as many companies share the underlying assumption that CRMs are nothing more than a file with customer data and a sales history – something that might as well be a spreadsheet.
For example, a company I used to work at actively promoted the use of their CRM, and to enforce it, they would penalize salespeople who didn’t keep up to date. The icing on the cake? Their end-of-quarter bonus was dependent on how tidy their CRM was. They may have sold it as a panacea, but in truth, every policy around the CRM treated it like a database, making it an anxiety-inducing mess.
CRMs can be so much more and should be treated as such. With the right AI, you can turn that simple database into a focused marketing tool. For example, a salesperson can get notifications when their clients may need to restock by estimating the average consumption rate of a product. The system can even automatically send offers and discounts as a restock date approaches.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can analyze your customers’ favorite brands, their average spending, what kind of salesperson they favor, and so much more. A good CRM with an AI isn’t just gathering data: it’s actively profiling the clients.
CRMs Can Be Mobile
Mobile CRMs were true back when sales calls were a thing, and they are true even now. Many companies are lukewarm to the idea of their clients’ database being available on an employee’s smartphone or tablet, and the most common reason is either security concerns or corporate espionage.
First, computer security is way better today than what it was a few years ago, and some good security practices as well as good encryption can put those worries to rest. I mean, we are living in a world where private meetings with sensitive information are being transmitted by meeting platforms all the time.
Second, salespeople are spending more time communicating with their clients via media, so it comes to no one’s surprise that they may need to access clients’ profiles to check or update information on the go. If for whatever reason, the salesperson doesn’t have a PC nearby, it might cost them a sale.
Mobile apps for CRM management are a must in today’s world. As we become more interconnected, it’s unreasonable to expect employees to stick to a single, desktop-based platform.
Better Management Tools
Look, if you are like me, you started your virtual office motivated, and for the first few weeks, you might have experienced the joy of being able to have a meeting with your pajamas on. Now, the mere sight of the Zoom icon sends me into a spiral of loathing and disgust. And there is a reason for that: employees all over the world are reporting an increase of 30% in time spent on meetings
Managers are probably feeling the same way, but what else can they do? They have to keep tabs on all their employees and communication is key here. In that sense, CRMs can also become a management tool.
With a management module, a CRM can help the manager keep track of sales cycles or administration processes regarding clients. A dashboard with the current status of every client interaction organized by salespersons is a godsend, and it might just prevent a manager from throwing a computer out the window the next time they hear a Skype ringtone.
CRMs as a Feedback Cycle
Last, but not least, remember when I said that small businesses need to preserve the “talking to human experience”? Well, talking is a two-way street. With the right implementation, a feedback survey can relay the data back to a CRM and provide the salesperson and the manager with information about how clients are feeling about the product and customer attention/service.
You can even follow up with a social media message or a mail thanking them personally for their feedback as well as assuring them that whatever criticism they may have had are being actively worked on.
CRMs can be a powerful tool for improving customer relations as we move to virtualized realities. If you are thinking about a facelift to your current CRM software, or are looking forward to building a custom CRM that fits your needs, it’s important to find the right developer for the job, someone who can understand what your company needs and turn that project into a solid reality.