Customer relationship management — what it is, how it works, and why it’s important

Professionals discussing customer relationship management (CRM)

Customer relationship management (CRM) is the process of managing all points of data on each customer and nurturing them through the pipeline. This allows your business to give personalized, focused attention to each lead and buyer. Technology continues to enhance CRM software to capture and organize all this data, improving your customer experience.

A CRM strategy helps your company gather, organize, track, respond to, and analyze all parts of a customer’s user experience. You can increase the customer lifecycle as well as business productivity and collaboration.

Bringing all of today’s digital customer information into one place gives a company a big-picture view while also detailing every customer interaction. An effective CRM system helps brands grow their bottom line by attracting new leads and improving retention.

To help you get started with your own CRM strategy, this post will explain:

Who needs CRM?

CRM systems are helping organizations of all types and sizes, including:

Buyers interact with brands through many channels. Collecting, organizing, and accessing insights from all of those data points enables leading brands to create personalized customer experiences for their audiences.

Internally, a CRM platform is used by every customer-facing team — including sales, marketing, customer service, recruiting, management, and business development. CRM solutions create a unified view of customer data that can foster seamless collaboration across departments. The increase in data visibility makes managing the buyer lifecycle more efficient and effective as well.

For example, internal teams might increase productivity by identifying changes that need to be made in the pipeline. Customer service representatives can log issues, act on them quickly, and provide follow-up as needed. Marketing can use those insights to adjust a campaign and set better expectations. Sales can follow up with potential customers who are in a similar industry or journey stage.

CRM software — technology that unlocks business growth

Keeping track of customer data is overwhelming. Businesses today have so many touchpoints with buyers — from the website, to social media, phone calls, help desks, and more. All of this information is both a responsibility and an opportunity, and that’s where CRM software becomes so important.

All of the data becomes a responsibility when a brand has a strong pipeline and customer lifecycle. These indicate a great need for CRM software. With increasing leads and buyers entering the system, a CRM platform can handle every detail, ensuring a consistent buyer experience. A robust software will also capture new data on customers already in the system. Brands can organize, evaluate, and act on this data to create more personalized experiences at every stage of the pipeline.

CRM software allows for split testing

The omnichannel, data-rich buyer journey is also an opportunity. A CRM platform can provide the insights needed to revitalize or strengthen a struggling sales cycle. Weaknesses and problems can be caught and improved upon and strengths and opportunities further developed. CRM software allows for split testing and identifying which parts of the funnel need attention.

A good CRM platform will organize all points of data and make it easy to access and review from a single dashboard. No important details will be lost, and businesses can effortlessly manage each customer through the funnel. Any problem areas on the buyer’s journey can be quickly identified and fixed. Campaigns can be optimized and gaps eliminated.

What does a CRM system do?

The primary purpose of a CRM system is to help your business gather, store, and manage all the data for every contact — leads, customers, and business partners. It creates a unified view of every contact, tracks customer interactions, shares data across internal teams, and provides valuable insights to improve the pipeline. A centralized location for this data makes it easier to manage the day-to-day customer lifecycle, but a good CRM platform does much more than manage your contacts.

A CRM helps the sales team monitor leads by:

CRM software aids the marketing team by:

How CRM can benefit your business

A CRM solution uplevels the customer experience — improving sales and retention. A modern CRM system fulfills many needs over several departments to help your team deliver a personalized, effective customer experience. This helps your company become more customer-focused, find and convert new leads, retain existing customers, and improve the overall buyer experience.

Benefits of a CRM

Improve customer support

Customer service representatives can quickly identify any needs requiring attention as well as respond effectively to customer complaints and requests. In the CRM data they can view points of contact already made, along with relevant notes on each interaction. This allows them to care for each customer with precision. Each new rep doesn’t have to ask the buyer to repeat their problem, they can view the product or order in question, they can discern if the customer is new or a lifetime customer, and more.

Reduce cost

CRM software automatically handles repetitive back-end tasks. This includes capturing data, generating reports, identifying patterns, and facilitating automatic tools like reminders and email campaigns. Your company doesn’t have to maintain staff to handle these simple tasks. Automation also prevents human error on data entry, eliminating problems that could end up costing valuable company time.

Close more leads

A CRM helps marketing and the sales teams identify and segment leads, ranking them according to how near they are to closing. The CRM system gathers myriad points of data, helping to make accurate assessments on where a lead is on their journey. The teams can then guide each group through the most effective messaging and timing. Each lead is nurtured in perfect order through closing and beyond. A CRM software can also guide your sales reps — keeping them from acting too quickly or waiting too long on a lead.

Automate to maximize efficiency

CRM programs offer various tools for automation, such as a calendar reminder system, data capture across platforms, response-triggered email funnels, internal chat integration, and customer interaction — especially with calls made from within the system. There are also capabilities for lead capture and management and marketing automation.

With the software handling so many tasks automatically, your business can operate with agility. Your teams will be freed to focus on what they do best — planning, strategizing, and performing customer-facing work, thereby increasing the bottom line.

Sharpen customer analytics

Effective CRM tools reveal precise customer analytics and the broad picture of their lifecycle, providing for more targeted and effective marketing. Teams can identify patterns in customer behavior, allowing for creating, analyzing, testing, and perfecting lead nurturing through the lifecycle. Demographics data is also readily available. Gathering and analyzing all this information can help any business quickly see new or missed opportunities.

Connect business departments

CRM tools connect team members across departments because everyone is working off the same centralized, up-to-date information. A business can curate the customer’s experience from beginning to end, increasing engagement and the customer’s lifecycle as well as proficiency behind the scenes. All the divisions, team members, and managers in a company can work from the same page, even remotely.

Getting started with CRM

The right CRM system will save your company time and money, strengthen the sales cycle and customer lifecycle, and drive business growth. CRM systems help any kind of business of any size and can scale with the organization as it grows.

Setting up a CRM early helps to avoid later “growing pains” and dropped or underserved customers. Several departments across a company will make use of the centralized information to strategize and improve sales and customer service, leading to growth.

When you’re ready to streamline your business, Adobe Experience Cloud has all the tools you need for a seamless CRM strategy. Request a demo to learn how Experience Cloud integrates with your CRM solution.