Improved business processes resulting from a centralisation of customer information means that the sales and marketing team is not the only one that will benefit from a 360-degree view of the customer.
According to many Sage customers, deploying CRM has increased the availability of information, leading to improved customer service and retention. Further, they note that deploying CRM has allowed for better targeting of marketing activity and improved visibility of cross-selling opportunities. Other benefits mentioned included better post-sales support and faster deal closing.
The impact of these sales- and support-related benefits in today's challenging economic environment cannot be overstated. Conservative estimates of the cost of winning a new customer relative to maintaining an existing one put the figure at around four times the amount. Whilst the direct cost of losing customers can be measured, there are also less tangible costs. A lost customer may have some influence in their industry — and word can spread fast with the use of social media. Sales staff can also lose morale if new business wins are merely backfilling lost accounts.
It is, perhaps, these concerns that mean that the benefits to sales and marketing teams in particular are uppermost - many decision makers state that improved customer retention and more precisely targeted marketing activity are benefits that they hope to realise from their deployment.
However, sales and marketing teams are not the only ones to benefit directly from CRM deployments. Business processes also see improvements, with CRM reducing duplication and time wasting across multiple departments. Others planning to deploy CRM believe this to be a particular benefit. Centralisation of customer information is probably the single biggest benefit afforded by CRM systems. The alternative often involves creation of duplicate files and the manual integration of data from one system to another as well as requiring extra effort to store and back up of all this duplicated data. This is both costly and error prone.
Further, CRM has improved communication between teams such as sales and finance. Good interdepartmental communication is vital for the proper functioning of any business for which customer loyalty cannot be taken for granted — which increasingly means all types of organisation. There must be a clear communication channel between sales and finance, for example, if issues such as account status and age of debt are not to lead to serious errors that will have a direct impact on the customer base. Clearly this is an issue for many firms. Improved interdepartmental communications has been cited by many Sage customers as a key driver for CRM adoption.
Looking at other business process benefits, customers also mention improved order tracking and management, as well as better pipeline tracking has improving their ability to predict manufacturing and production requirements. These issues are related to a degree. Improved pipeline and order tracking strengthens customer service but also feed directly into production environments, where staff need as much advance information as possible to ensure that customer requirements are fulfilled in a timely manner.
CRM deployments can also have an affect on the management decision making processes, with improvements in the quality of information available for strategic management decision making, such that superior forecasting has led to better cash flow and business decisions. Sales forecasts are one of the key metrics on which critical decisions are made. Any tool that improves the accuracy and visibility of both short-term monthly and quarterly forecasts and longer term pipeline is enormously beneficial to decision makers. Having to pull information from multiple sources and then consolidate it into a unified format is costly and time consuming and likely to lead to errors and inaccuracies. Compare this picture with the ability to simply review pre-formatted information pulled from one central source.
In summary, improved business processes resulting from a centralisation of customer information means that any part of any business can improve their processes through the introduction of a CRM as a foundation platform.