Customer relationship management and CRMs are not the same thing.
Customer relationship management is what you do: how you work with, serve and support your customers. It is a strategy for building relationships with your current and potential buyers and understanding their needs so you can help them be successful through your product.
Sound time-consuming? Think about it this way: Customer experience is the most essential element of your growth strategy and just plain the right way to do business. Companies large and small can no longer afford to ignore it. As Forrester reported in their CRM trend report, “In 2017 companies are becoming increasingly cognizant of the economic value of managing customer relationships.”
This is where CRM software comes into play. CRMs enable relationship and contact management at scale through data collection, segmentation, automation and analytics. Infusionsoft sums it up nicely: “The core function of CRM is contact management. It gives you the power to actively track and segment a much larger volume of contact variables.”
“When it works,” according to Harvard Business Review, CRM software “allows companies to gather customer data swiftly, identify the most valuable customers over time, and increase customer loyalty by providing customized products and services.”
When it works is the operative phrase. That’s where the struggle gets real.
The problem with both CRM strategy and software is twofold. First, the software industry pressures businesses to adopt tools for manufactured problems that they want business owners to think exist. Second, and as a result of the first problem, too many businesses begin with tools, not their customers, so their strategy is built around an object rather than the humans they are trying to serve.