08/10/2010

By Jamie Stewart, Managing Director, Exact UK

In today’s competitive environment, companies are looking to make the most out of each customer account. The common wisdom among marketing professionals is that 60 percent of business is generated by 40 percent of the existing customers. Thus, savvy businesses are focusing on sustaining current customers and maximising these relationships through CRM systems.

Over the past two decades, CRM solutions have evolved from contact databases that assisted salespeople in tracking prospects, to complex real-time customer relationship management environments that enable better responsiveness to customer needs.

While traditional CRM systems have lacked the ability to encompass the full realm of business processes, technologies have emerged that empower businesses to realise the full potential of customer relationships.
CRM point solutions achieve just this by focusing on selling to customers. However, by concentrating exclusively on pre-sales, marketing programs and customer support instead of building long term relationships, companies are not realising the full return on investment with existing CRM technologies.

CRM functionality should be integrated with the entire business operations rather than being focused and isolated functionality. A truly customer-centric solution not only ties customer relationships with enterprise business functions, but can address other functions related to CRM, such human resources and financial management to better monitor and look after the customer relationship.

For example, if a sales manager wanted to see which employees worked with which customers, he could see not only the relationship but also any workflow that occurred between the two parties.

In addition, the CRM solution should have the ability to be configured to trigger certain staff members of potential problems that could impact the client relationship such as inventory levels.

When evaluating technology to maximise customer relationships, it is important to consider numerous factors.


Measurable ROI within a fixed timeframe

Ask to speak with several of each vendor’s customers. They should be able to tell you about measurable benefits that they have achieved from using a CRM technology.

Ease of installation and customisation

Ask prospective vendors about the installation process. Provide details about your existing technology environment to determine the time and resources that will be required to customise the existing product for your environment.

Customer-oriented

Customers should be able to place themselves at the centre of the business, seeing the processes that affect them, such as payments made, workflow with customer support, and share this information with other customers.

Integration with existing CRM information

Any new technology should allow data from existing CRM systems to be easily accessed or transferred into a new environment.

Pervasiveness

New technology should leverage existing CRM investments yet go well beyond traditional CRM functional components, incorporating enterprise-wide processes, such as finance, marketing, inventory management, etc.

Nurturing a client base involves giving customers every opportunity to improve the way that they interact with you. No longer are customers sideline participants.

Organisations are empowering their customers with a wealth of knowledge to engage in meaningful conversations, with more informed decision-making. A CRM solution that encompasses all aspects of your business gives customers unprecedented visibility into actions that impact them. Ultimately, this leads to greater accountability within the organisation, and greater satisfaction among customers.


Exact are one of the leading providers of scalable solutions which cover all key business processes, allowing your people to share information and collaborate in real-time on a single platform. As well as helping organisations grow, Exact's solutions consolidate the processes of companies conducting business internationally.

Business on an international scale heightens the need for precise reporting and visibility; Exact offer a solution that is dedicated to giving a company's HQ total clarity on the entire business, from foreign subsidiaries to localised trading silos. With many businesses still performing a lot of tasks manually, or utilising IT systems that don't work together this provides complete process visibility and helps ensure employees work together to add value to the business.


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