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Customer relations management

CRMBy GMNET Staff

Any organization that provides products or services to people should have a customer relations management (CRM) system in place.

Why?

Simple, CRM improves the quality of customer contact. That leads to heightened customer satisfaction. Improved satisfaction leads to increased patronage, and that spells more revenue. The sequence is straight forward and compelling. Despite the fact that CRM systems can seem complex initially, the difficulties shouldn’t be off putting, because once in place and functioning, they can be very, very lucrative.

Research with successful companies reveals that about 20 per cent of customers contribute about 75% of revenue. Clearly, that 20 per cent is gold, but to mine it effectively, you have to:

    • know who those 20% of customers are
    • have detailed information about their needs, desires, wants, tastes, likes, and dislikes
    • have a way to track their buying patterns and behaviors, and
    • be able to reach them efficiently with marketing overtures that mesh with their individual buying preferences? 

CRM can do all of the foregoing. But, what is it anyway?

CRM refers to the methodologies and tools that help businesses manage customer relationships in an organized way and that offer a positive, personalized experiences. If you have more than a few hundred customers (too many to manage in your brain) your CRM system will have a technology component (computer and CRM software). But, the technology is a tool—not the main focus—to help you collect and organize information to:

  1. identify and target your best customers, generate quality sales leads, and plan and implement marketing campaigns
  2. form individualized relationships with customers
  3. provide employees with the information they need to know customers' wants and needs

CRM is customer centric

CRM depends on good information. Some organizations find it easiest to collect information at the point of sale, others gather data in support phases of service, and those that haven’t done either but that want to get a system in place, can deliberately go about contacting customers. Existing customers don’t mind such research—most appreciate the personal touch, and all will respond to a value-added promotional offering as a show of appreciation.

CRM software functionality should include the ability to:

  • centralize the storage of documents and information, specifically, information about customers and their service histories
  • track customer service requests and keep necessary parties informed of requests or problems
  • log important communication with a customer
  • allow customers a certain level of self-servicing through a web site
  • automate common communication with the customer such as shipment updates or newsletters and support details
  • report on information gathered about the customer

How can it work?

Everyone buys things, but we buy more and more often when marketing messages meet our individual needs.

Take a video store, for example. Movie tastes are personal, and it isn’t difficult to build accurate profiles of customers. With profiles in place, notices can be sent advising of new releases that match tastes. Further, knowledgeable staff can assess and match old video inventory with customer tastes and with knowledge of what customers have rented previously. Now, new release advisories are accompanied by specific suggestions designed to capture more revenue on movies that often sit and collect dust.

Similar approaches can be used for:

  • automobile supplies and servicing: all of us need vehicle servicing and many appreciate notification when servicing is due, or when  specials are available that will save us money
  • computer hardware and software: an increasing number of people want/need to stay current with technology. For e.g. how many readers would respond to a notification from their computer store about a new, affordable software program that eliminates SPAM and popup ads—the software exists and is readily available. Let me know about such innovations, and you’ll get a sale almost every time. Plus, people would thank you for saving them the trouble of trying to keep up to date in a dizzying industry.
  • what about holiday packages? All of us have individual, specific tastes about holiday types and destinations. The agent who feeds into those tastes intelligently gets business.
  • or, a company in tune with home maintenance innovations that sends notices of service scheduling is also likely to find many people receptive. And the list of CRM possibilities could go on endlessly.

The question is: how many organizations can honestly say they know their customers, that they understand their preferences and tastes so completely that they can anticipate what they’ll respond to and that they can access these customers affordably whenever they want? The tools are readily available. Businesses failing to take advantage of them are losing revenue—pity.           

 

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