The popular quote, “Make a customer, not a sale,” could not be any more relevant than it is right now. Taken from prominent retailer, Katherine Barchetti, the message is crystal clear, and it's for all business owners, managers, and sales teams – everywhere. Hunting down prospects in order to close them, is dead.
Customer service, for many of us, myself included, goes beyond how you treat the customer in direct interactions at the point of sale. It's providing that service and related support to your customers before, during and after a purchase, be it software, shoes, or submarines. But the perception of success ultimately depends on your customer-facing employees, who, in a flash, can make or break a deal. This includes your project teams, sales reps, field technicians, and customer service/support reps, all the way down to your receptionist and operators, who ask this question day in, day out, "How may we help you?"
For the record, ‘good’ customer service means meeting expectations, but ‘excellent’ customer service means exceeding them.
How can today’s fast-paced, highly competitive businesses achieve and maintain excellent customer service? This is where an ERP customer service, or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) module can help.
Up close and personal
Just how well do you know your customers? While we’d like to think that most companies take their customer service seriously, if you don't have a clear, 360-degree view of your customers, supported by real-time, up-to-date information, your ‘line of vision’ is blurred.
While some organizations may already use CRM software to handle their customer base, as a stand-alone solution, it solely focuses on managing a company's interaction with current and potential customers. A CRM system uses data analysis based on customer history, stores customer information, and automates processes connected to a customer's journey, but it may not integrate with other software systems in your organization, such as financial management, human resources, warehousing, and inventory. For a business to operate efficiently as a unified entity, under that proverbial ‘umbrella,’ company data must be accessible, sharable, storable, and secure for all employees.
Enter ERP. ERP uses a centralized database and automated workflows to power various business processes, reduce manual labor, and to simplify complex business processes. ERP systems support, manage and optimize all of the critical operational business processes, including finance, development, manufacturing, sales, inventory, and more.
An ERP system, with an integrated CRM module, helps provide a clear view of your customers, to maximize sales opportunities, retain high-value customers, and enhance the customer experience through quick problem resolution. CRM gives you greater insights into your customer base, to build and maintain strong relationships with your customers, and make better, more informed business decisions.
What to look for in a CRM
Increased sales, customer loyalty programs and incentives, and building your brand and reputation. There’s nothing more valuable to help you grow your business. But what else should an ERP's CRM module give you beyond an accessible, up-to-date customer database?
Here’s where a modern ERP system goes the extra mile. It's a long shopping list, but these are the key features you can expect from a CRM inside today's open, flexible, and scalable ERP systems:
- Field service management with mobile access. A mobile field service application accessible from any mobile device or tablet, to manage on-site service calls, including real-time reporting, parts and inventory, surveys, and more, immediately synced with your ERP system
- Warranties and service calls. Manage service calls/routine servicing of parts at the customer site, including integrating technicians' calendars, and support for multiple types of servicing
- Service call quality control. View active calls in real-time, trace follow-up/repeat calls, and maintain/analyze call data history
- Embedded knowledge base. An integral part of your ERP system, to provide customers with timely, prioritized responses to service tickets, queries, and support requests
- Built-in Business Process Management (BPM). Predefined, automated workflows to ensure service call prioritization, assignment, and escalation, based on service call attributes
- Communications. Supports communication with customers via email or text, synchronizing emails directly from Gmail/Outlook to relevant service call with customers
When it comes time to enhancing your organization's customer service, you'll find a wide variety of solutions out there that can do the job, but nothing can replace the added-value of a strong and reliable ERP system with a built-in CRM module. From consistent and readily available customer data, easily accessed and shared companywide, to managing and in turn, boosting the customer experience, a Customer Relationship Management solution powered by an ERP, will get where you need to be, and that's right in front of your customer, even before they call.