CRM ROI: 6 Ways to Measure the Payoff

August 20, 2019

How do you know if your CRM investment is paying off? Whether you are currently enjoying a CRM system, or are thinking about investing in one, there are several ways to measure the impact on sales, customers and business operations. Maybe one or all of these measures is worth your consideration. If you haven’t yet done so, consider setting goals based on the desired benefits of your chosen CRM solution, then monitoring the impact over time, to get an idea of the time horizon and set your expectations on whether or when your CRM investment will eventually “pay off”. In our experience, it’s typically measured in months, not years.

1. Increased revenue

A well tuned CRM solution could help you increase the volume of qualified sales leads, which can enable you to increase sales. Connect your website’s leadgen forms, your social channel feeds and your website analytics and other data sources, so you can better identify ready buyers as well as potential future buyers, and serve up the type of nurturing each might require. Your CRM solution can also help you automate and accelerate responses in a content-relevant way. Today’s buyers expect a prompt, tailored response, as a gauge for deciding whether and where to buy. The impact of this Customer Experience factor is discussed in detail later.

2. Reduced Expenses

One byproduct of the improved lead qualification and improved follow-up involved in appropriately nurturing sales and future leads is that you can reduce wasted time and effort on low priority work, or on waiting for others to take action, or on the distraction of less important work. CRM helps you detect leaky business processes, fulfillment delays and other opportunities to speed up the business. Result: you can sell, serve and do more, without sacrificing quality.

3. Greater Efficiency

Is your CRM solution enabling you to get more done with less? Are Leads, Contacts and Clients receiving better self-service and faster response? Your CRM solution can be just the resource you need to help minimize errors, omissions and delays in getting the right response to the right person at the right time.

4. Happier People

Our motto: every user a power user. One of our clients completely transformed from being a notorious high-turnover operation into a talent magnet, simply by supporting their CRM users better. Today, there is no excuse for not tuning your CRM, training your people, and empowering them to make improvements to the CRM implementation so that everyone can benefit. Top talent today expects you to have a CRM solution in place, to help them be productive and demonstrate results. If you can’t do that, you face self-imposed headwinds in hiring, training and retaining talent.

A well tuned CRM can also help you stay focused on priorities, so you can better measure your own resource needs and plan to either hire, build or buy the resources to meet demand, and stimulate an increase in demand.

Morale is higher when your sales, service and marketing people can use CRM to alert one another to a customer need, then involve your best experts and resources in delivering the right response on the most appropriate channel, at the right time – without redundancy and guesswork. People who are effective in their work tend to be happier and more productive. So, use your CRM to set up some measures that help people find opportunities to deliver the best result.

5. Customer Experience (CX)

Much has been written about the Customer Experience as the competitive lever in building loyalty, referrals and repeat business. A well tuned CRM solution can help you anticipate and meet customer needs in two ways: overt needs (direct requests) and implied needs. Implied needs can be detected based on patterns of buyer behavior combined with rich data. In one client case, we found that buyers of product A were more likely to buy product B, but not product C; we helped the client tune the fulfillment process to automatically mention product B, and only mention product C if expressly requested. This help the client reduce the wasted time, expense and annoyance to buyers in inappropriately recommending product C, while improving follow-on sales of product B. Result: better customer retention, improved customer relations, happier staff, and more sales.

6. Loyalty

CRM can be the differentiator in helping you gain a deeper understanding of customers’ values, needs and priorities, so you can improve your dialogue with each customer based on a deeper understanding of that individual.  At one of our clients, some disparate departments were able to communicate better internally and coordinate to deliver the optimal result to a key customer. Where before some inbound inquiries from existing customers were being treated as unknown “first contact” conversations, the CRM helped improve visibility into the nature of each inquiry, by combining purchase records, IP address information, social signals and other data sources into a more comprehensive view of the inquiry and a more appropriate response.

A repeat customer does not usually with to be treated as a newbie, and a newbie probably shouldn’t receive a loyalty program until after the first purchase. CRM helps you straighten this out.

Over to You

What has your CRM implemention done for you lately? Have you set up measures to help you recognize the payoff? We’d love to hear about your experience and, of course, help you get those answers if you find them elusive. It’s all we do.

Contact us.

Take a CRM Needs Assessment

Additional Reading

Article: How Digital is Powering Growth in Key Account Management (McKinsey)

 



The Real Meaning of CRM

November 11, 2015
human and robot hands

Credit: Phillipedia Files

I often joke with clients and audiences that the acronym CRM may be widely accepted as shorthand for “Customer Relationship Management”, but we know what it really stands for: “Can’t Remember Much”.

Before you dash away from this article thinking it’s all jokes, let’s analyze the kernel of truth behind that chuckle.

Some parts of your work could be automated.  CRM is just one tool. That’s the good news. Implemented well, CRM can free you to spend more time applying your expertise on more creative work and expediting decisions on exceptional cases instead of tedious, rote activities like cataloging and retrieving information.

Take the free CRM Readiness Assessment

The main challenge is human adaptability. It is natural to find comfort in routine, but when that same routine becomes unnecessary or a competitive disadvantage, you must adapt or face potential loss. Buggy whips, anyone?

To be sure, the economic benefits of automation include labor savings, but nobody is suggesting that all human-involved work goes away. Instead, your work might become more cerebral in nature. Amazon’s Kiva warehouse robots can stock shelves and fulfill shipment orders far faster and commit fewer errors, and Quill can produce narrative reports from raw data whose resulting output is hard to distinguish from a human-authored prose piece, but they are not existential threats.  Your ability to create, decide, interpret and act on information is a product of your judgment and experience; analyzing the risk and opportunity inherent in any decision is downright, intuitively messy. And we humans are surprisingly, inimitably good at it.  We just need our CRM solution to have proper care and feeding, including clean, accurate, relevant data, so that we can validate our decisions against … something.

It’s not just low skill, low wage work that could be automated. Many highly skilled types of work could have aspects of certain work processes delegated to automation. Scheduling, producing reports and aggregating data can be automated to synthesize new discoveries, flag exceptions and highlight decision options directly at their point of use – – the factory floor or the boardroom – where a judgmental human can use discretion to suit the desires and needs of a customer.

What does this mean to the business leader? It means we need to use our creativity and judgment to study developments in new automation solutions and assess how and when we might sensibly adopt them to maintain a competitive edge, or perhaps or discover a new one.

Technology of any kind is usually only a temporary advantage, but human creativity and productivity are hard to beat. You definitely want more creative humans on your team – especially creative ones who can interpret your needs and help you find the automation solutions to fill them. That’s where a CRM expert comes in. Shameless plug alert: luckily, you found us.

Additional Resources

Four fundamentals of workplace automation (McKinsey)


Are You the Toast of Your Customer, or just Toast?

October 28, 2013
on Sales & Marketing tech as core competencies

Spoiling customers rotten is the new black, the new mantra, the new grail quest.  Worst case: it seems out of reach, and you are toast.

champagne or toastWe see it everywhere.  We have come to expect each next interaction with our product and service providers to feel like progress, not another blind date.  Is that too much to ask?  It certainly has become a new watershed basis for satisfaction.  Ask any Amazon customer.  Examine your banking relationships.

As William Gibson famously said: “The future has arrived – it’s just not very evenly distributed”.  It seems that every day we are yanked between extremes. At one moment we are marveling at modern convenience, and the next moment we are musing about its glitches and unmet expectations, as if somehow entitled.  Maybe we are.  Maybe your customers think so.

Measuring up

Some organizations are equipped, focused and successful at doting on their audiences and customers.  Are you?  If so, great.  If not, why not; what’s keeping you from getting started?  The answer: a lot less than you think.  Of course you could cite the usual hindrances like people, time and resources, and yet today competing at selling, serving and pleasing customers is not an option or a choice, or even a competitive advantage. It’s a baseline expectation.  Table stakes.

Right now, as you read this, your business is either delivering value before, during and after each transaction, or you risk being replaced by a phone app (yep, there’s an app for that).  You can prevent ending up in that scrap heap by making up your mind to compete – affordably, and at scale. The tools are becoming easier to use and more sophisticated.  You just have to be motivated to change.

Our inflated expectations

Before even getting into a discussion on Sales CRM or Marketing Automation software, let’s look at one simple example of how tech tools have changed our behavior: the lowly appointment calendar.

Today, you can easily set your calendar software to remind you ahead of each appointment and keep you punctual, reliable and prepared. In business, we use it to update meeting schedules, locations and agendas, synchronize participants, and keep progress on track. Without it, we risk gridlock, confusion, wasted time, missed opportunity, frustrated people, and lost money.

Getting and staying in calendar-sync, in some organizations, is a baseline expectation – not a choice. Indeed, for some, being on time is a core part of the business model. From Fedex to Comcast to Delta, we can now know precisely when the next step will occur, often within a time window measured in mere minutes.

Likewise, you can program your Sales CRM software and your Marketing ARM software to notify you when a potential buyer or customer is visiting your website, asking a question, mentioning your brand name in an online forum, or complaining.  If you’re not listening and participating, that’s the same as ignoring a ringing phone.  Is that the reputation you want?  Wouldn’t you rather be as aware as everyone else when your customers praise or complain?  Are you making it difficult for people to buy? Are you even listening? Isn’t ignoring a customer complaint posted on a social media channel the same as ignoring their emails and phone calls?

Expand your capacity

This seemingly new competitive edge – marketing and sales automation – has actually been going on for years in leading organizations. If you are not using CRM or ARM solutions, admit it:  you are limited by human scale and fallibility. You have limited visibility, difficulty forecasting, an over-reliance on intuition, habit and guesswork, and are probably making costly but avoidable mistakes.  What’s worse, you don’t even know the extent of your self-inflicted damage because you aren’t equipped to pay attention.

Conversations today are rife with examples of fumbled relationships and millions of dollars in lost deals that could have been prevented, if only the right hand had known what the left hand was doing. Has this ever happened to you? If you answered no, how can you be sure? Do I smell burning toast?

Quick quiz: assess your readiness for CRM

Imagine what’s possible

With a tuned, integrated “software layer” embedded in your business, you can:

  • create self-guided online experiences, complete with landing pages, call/response email exchanges, up-sell and cross-sell processes, social media engagement incentives, and other valuable interactions;
  • detect the faint signals of purchase intent or dissatisfaction, and intervene to influence outcomes;
  • enable your customers, prospects and suspects to research solutions, evaluate yours, and even whimsically waltz among various decision stages and feedback loops toward eventually deciding whether to inquire, pay, receive and use your offerings, all with minimal human intervention; of course you can program it to notify you at key junctures, so you can intervene and assist.

You might think this online commerce model only makes sense in big businesses, large catalogs, complex workflows or servicing a previous purchase, but not in yours.  On the contrary; just about any organization can benefit from marketing and sales automation to help you scale up, optimize your business, and use the reports to discover ways to simplify, improve service, and get better results.

Put simply: there are 7 billion humans, and not enough time or resources to do each task by hand.  It’s time to automate.  Put differently:  we are now all technology companies.  From Amazon and Nordstrom to state and federal government services, we expect technology to facilitate everything from transactions to relationships.  Right?

So, how big is it?

Virtually all the major business analyst firms, from Gleanster and Aberdeen Group to Gartner Group and Altimeter Group, report that top performing organizations are performing better partly as a result of adopting marketing and sales process automation solutions.  Personally, having spent over 15 years programming these customer decision journeys for companies large and small, using a broad palette of tools (see right sidebar),  I have engineered the transformation and witnessed the improvements firsthand: clients scaling up to cost effectively satisfy more people, to more cost-effectively and efficiently manage buyer, customer and user interactions, discover customer and buyer behaviors that indicate satisfaction or need, and more.

CRM and ARM software can make you more productive and competitive, freeing you to focus on the creative, intuitive and intellectual aspects of improving your business, and support you in making better-informed decisions.  Marketing, sales and service organizations are doubling down on tech; indeed, analysts and industry forecasters expect Marketing and Sales technology budget growth to outpace Information Technology departments in coming years.  This isn’t necessarily a replacement of the IT organization; rather, IT can be your closest ally when evaluating tech options.  Knowing one another’s agendas can help you transition more effectively to a premises / cloud blend of agile business resources.

The choices

So, if you’re feeling bogged down in drudgery, overwhelmed by the escalating demands and expectations of your customers, outpaced by better performing competitors, working harder yet not gaining ground, or possibly even mystified about flattening or declining business, please know that it doesn’t have to be that way.  You can enhance your chances of growth and success by having the right systems in place.  Consider investing in Marketing ARM and sales CRM tools.  Or not.  The choice is yours.  There’s that burned toast smell again.

Take this quick quiz to size up your growth opportunity.

As always, I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.


Forget B2B and B2C; Hello, E2E

December 21, 2012
(Tune your Software Layer)

Forget B2B. Forget B2C. Embrace E2E: Everyone to Everyone.  Business and consumers alike are voting with their wallets and making mobile, tablet and personal 2-in-1 devices the “first screen” – relegating laptops, desktop PCs and wall-mounted flat screen TVs to “second screen” status.  They are messaging one another.  And they are talking about you. Are you listening?  Hello?

A few organizations have adopted the playbook to address this shift.   It seems, however, that most are not even thinking about the user-centric, user-generated, user-driven, mobile-first, E2E experience.  That makes it a huge opportunity, if you set your mind to it.

Aaron Shapiro, blogging for the Harvard Business Review, cited the “Software Layer” as an area of focus for optimizing this E2E User experience, no matter what business you are in.  I have incorporated some of his thoughts into the following 20-page storybook.  It’s a quick read (lots of pictures), and it outlines a framework for how Users interact with your Business through a Software Layer. Enjoy!

Who Uses You cover shot

Enjoy the brief SlideShare preso

I hope you find it useful in framing your thoughts on how to compete and excel.

Suffice to say, the race is on, and competing is not optional.

Make this the year you embrace the Software Layer of your business to drive User engagement, new opportunity, and new levels of success.

How is your organization adapting to the “Everyone to Everyone” world?   Love to hear your stories.

Cheers, Ed

@fanfoundry


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