Customer Relationship Management, conveniently shortened to CRM, is not a new phenomenon.

The term was coined in the early 1990s, but really, the idea has been around as long as people have had businesses. The importance of the customer is not something that needs explanation – it is obvious.

But while the concept of CRM has not changed, the means of effectively implementing CRM systems have changed dramatically. This change can largely be attributed to advances in technology.

At its core, CRM is designed to improve current and potential customer interaction mechanisms, thereby improving customer retention rates, lead conversion rates and, ultimately, pushing revenue enhancement. In the ‘old days’, organisations would try to maintain customer relationships through direct mail, speculative phone call follow-ups and wide, but general, email blasts. As software capabilities have progressed, and consumer behaviour has changed, these methods now seem decidedly outdated and inefficient.

Technology now allows businesses to automate many of the available customer-communication channels, while simultaneously applying a deep level of analytical support and personalisation. Instead of sending a general email to all customers, it is now possible to send a specific email to a particular group of customers. This improved targeting greatly improves the chances of the customer returning to the business.

Given the wide range of options available nowadays, in terms of goods and services, the modern consumer has become inherently more choosy with respect to their buying habits. Hence, it is more important than ever for the modern organisation to ‘speak’ to the customer directly, rather than implementing more hit-and-hope marketing campaigns. The software available today allows you to analyse a vast amount of customer data, such as past purchases, location, age, gender and so forth, and then direct your marketing according to these criteria.

In some respects, the uses of modern CRM packages can be split into two broad functions: sales force automation and marketing automation.

Sales force automation focuses on the gathering of prospective customer data, and then using that data to convert them to an actual customer. This process is automated in the sense that once customer details are input into the system, their profile and behaviour can be analysed to determine which potential customers demonstrate the greatest likelihood of conversion. For example, with Cloudstill, customers can have Lead Scores attributed to them based on their interactions, such as link clicks and enquiries – the higher the score, the better the lead.

Marketing automation relates to the ability to tailor campaigns, whether through email, social media or search engines, to specific customers, in order to offer them the product or service they do want, rather than the one they might want. Again, Cloudstill provides our clients with all of this. If one of your customers has shown a preference for a specific product, you are able to send them a personalised email relating to that product. That might be a discount, new stock, or a recommendation of a similar, complementary product. How you decide to use that information is up to you and the possibilities are vast.

Another vital use of CRM systems is the storage of data for internal records. Once you enter a customer’s details they are stored in a cloud-based system, allowing you to view them anytime, anywhere. The customer data you gather can be compartmentalised as to how you see fit; you may want to keep track of all customers who have purchased a particular item; or, you may want to keep a record of all customer purchases by month. The information can be categorised in many, many ways. Cloudstill’s system gives you the ability to create Lists. These Lists create themselves dynamically, meaning that once you enter a customer detail that matches the List’s criteria, that customer is automatically added. It’s as simple as that. From this data, businesses can analyse trends that provide insights on how to optimise their business strategies: what sort of customer is most prevalent, which service is most popular, which month is most active. It is this information that can transform your business’ competitiveness.

CRM technology has long been embraced by firms with large customer bases, however that is changing. The concentration of the market means all firms must do their utmost to not only attract new customers, but retain existing ones. Cloudstill offers an affordable, intuitive and easy-to-use system to businesses of all sizes, giving them the capability to provide the same customer relationship service as the Amazons and Apples of the world.

Don’t let the CRM train pass you by. Let Cloudstill get you on board.