If your business involves communication with customers, a CRM system (or customer relationship management system) is bound to be vital in reaching your goals. With the ability to manage all communications and details related to both existing and potential customers, there are loads of reasons why a CRM system is important for your business.

Learn about your customers

A CRM system will enable you to learn all about your customers, which is invaluable when it comes to knowing how to communicate with them in the future. For example, the system will record each customer’s purchase history, so you can spot patterns in what they buy and how often they make a purchase. You can use this information to decide which promotions or new product details to send to them, as you’ll know exactly what they’re interested in and how best to win more business from them.

In addition to this, you’ll be able to use your CRM system to see when a customer has opened an email from your company, and if they have clicked on any links. This will also assist in informing you about which communications are of interest to them and will help you to target these efficiently in the future.

Keep detailed customer records

CRM systems have the functionality to store all details about a customer, including any communication that they have had with you. This can really help with customer service, as if someone calls and relays information or an issue to someone, and then calls again further down the line and speaks to a different employee, all of their details will be on hand so they won’t need to repeat themselves. This will prevent the customer from getting frustrated and will save time and money as the call will be shorter, freeing up time for the employee to move onto something else.

Streamline your business processes

Due to being able to organise customer details effectively, you’ll find that there are a number of processes that can be streamlined by your CRM system, saving valuable time and money. For example, many admin tasks can be automated so that no-one in your workforce has to spend time doing them, and this can work across a number of areas, including marketing, data, and analytics.

Perhaps one of the best processes to streamline is the sales process, as this is potentially what brings in the most money. A CRM system has the capability to organise customers by conversion probability, so that time isn’t wasted on unsuccessful calls, and priority can be given to those who are most likely to make a purchase. It can also send prompts to employees about when follow-up calls need to be made so that those all-important leads aren’t left to go cold, and different types of calls can be assigned to the most relevant member of your team too, making for a completely efficient process.

Create better in-house communication

Sometimes it can be that different departments within a business are a little bit disjointed, and communication may not flow as well as you’d like it to. This can result in incorrect information being passed on, or details being changed between teams, which could then lead to mistakes and issues that impact on customers and profitability. By using a CRM system, you can ensure that every member of your workforce has access to the same information at all times, so nothing will get lost during communications between each other. This means that different teams can access the details that are relevant to them and can use these to drive groups of customers towards sales and will have access to everything from emails and phone call notes to appointments added to calendars.

Improve data and reporting

Accurate data and reporting are key within a business, as these factors are what you can use to understand your customers and find out what will encourage them to make a purchase. As all details are saved within a CRM from across the company, the system can analyse all of your data as a whole and can create reports which are easy to digest and include the information that is important to you and the department that you work in.

Now that you know how important a CRM system is for your business, it’s time to start looking at how you can implement one into your own company and start getting excited about all of the benefits associated with this.

First let’s wish a Happy Birthday to JAM (Journal of Arts Marketing) which has just celebrated its 10th birthday! And is it still jamming at 10? I think so, with this excellent issue dedicated to Friends and Membership schemes in the Arts.

Very timely this, it arrived the day after I went to the excellent AMA “Best of Friends” workshop hosted by Liz Hill – if you get the chance, take the opportunity. In fact JAM has a nice extract from her book “The Complete Membership Handbook” (with Brian Whitehead) on page 6, just to get you started. Go through the checklist, if it’s right for you then read teh rest of the article, then buy the book then start your scheme! Couldn’t be easier.

Actually if you are thinking of starting a scheme, or already have one then a good read of this JAM is a must. Heather Maitland first poses the question of whteher you really should have a friends scheme dipping into lots of statistics (Did you know that The Friends of Norwich Theatre Royal Scheme had a return of 460%!) and drawing on articles and case studies to help you answer the question.

Of course not all schemes are effective so Sarah Gee’s article “Friends or foes” takes you through what to do if it all stops adding up. This could be making no financial return, the objectives of the Friends (if an external organsiation) might not be the same as yours, plus a number of other pitfalls.

Roger Tomlinson takes us back to the starting point, posing the question “what relationships should we seek?” in Fans not fiends. Are fans of an arts organisation analgous to football fans? Can we have fans? An interesting question and it changes the way we might look at the competition – fans don’t switch sides on a whim. And how does social media affect this?

In addition, there are a couple of excellent case studies, by Jennifer Faure Francis of the Royal Academy of Arts, Sarah Chambers of the National Theatre, and there is an extract of Nina Simon’s interview with Kristen Denner about the new scheme at the Whitney Musuem of American Art, to put it all into the context of real organisations.

Finally, get to know Sam Eaves, marketing manager of Birminham Royal Ballet in the “Just a minute” column.

As I always say, if you don’t get JAM – sign up today.