In early 2020, the global economy was blissfully unaware of the impending crisis that would soon consume it. Businesses were going about their day-to-day operations, confident in their company’s ability to face any storm. But then the COVID-19 crisis hit, and we all know what happened: everything about the way customers made purchasing decisions changed overnight.
In the space of a few weeks, the crisis was in full swing and thousands of successful businesses suddenly being forced to choose between one of two options:
- completely rethink the way they operate, or
- close their doors permanently.
Those that shifted business processes to align with new customer behaviors were better able to weather the economic storm. And for many, a big key to those adaptations and staying afloat was their use of a CRM.
A CRM can help a business survive challenges because they harness key customer data needed to understand customers’ changing behaviors and purchasing decisions.
In this blog, we will discuss how CRMs can help businesses of all sizes weather unexpected economic storms and come out stronger on the other side.
What is a CRM?
In its most straightforward explanation, a CRM, or customer relationship management system, is a SaaS designed for businesses to manage their customer relationships. Two of CRM’s greatest values is how it can connect siloed data streams to create greater clarity across an organization and help businesses understand how customers feel about their brand.
Tasks often performed by a CRM platform include:
- customer data tracking
- customer segmentation
- record and segment customer interactions
- automate marketing activities
Crisis Management in Sales
Crisis management is all about being able to adapt quickly to sudden changes. And for sales managers, that means being able to recognize when a shift in consumer activity is occurring.
Quickly identifying and adapting to changing customer behaviors is critical for sales executives when an economic crisis hits. Without access to customer data, sales managers are left flying blind – trying to make strategic decisions based on intuition rather than actual customer behavior.
The first thing a business needs to do in a crisis situation is assess the situation and plan accordingly. To do so, access to customer information and purchasing journey is required.
Examples of this type of data include:
- Sales Data
- Marketing Data
- Social media listening data
Know Customer Patterns
Even when markets aren’t in flux, sales managers need a way to see all facets of customer data. This insight can be crucial for developing business strategies during times of prosperity and when responding to a business crisis.
CRM data can help sales managers understand customers’ needs, wants, and pain points. This is important because it allows businesses to anticipate changes in customer behavior and adjust their sales strategies accordingly. And when in a crisis scenario, having a long-term understanding and knowledge of your customers’ purchasing habits can help identify changes to those patterns more easily.
How a CRM Can Help In a Crisis
Before it Happens
The first step in being able to manage a crisis is identifying that one is on the horizon. CRMs can help businesses do this by providing sales managers with data-driven insights into changes in customer behavior.
CRM platforms integrated with a business’s internal systems, such as their accounting software, can provide real-time visibility into changes in purchasing patterns. This kind of data can be invaluable for sales managers navigating through a crisis.
For example, let’s say a CRM platform integrated with a business’s accounting software reveals that customer invoices are being paid slower than usual. This would be a red flag that something might be changing in the way customers make purchasing decisions.
CRMs can also help sales managers identify changes in customer behavior by tracking interactions across all channels. This data can be used to generate insights into how customers are feeling and what their needs might be. If a CRM platform reveals that customer interactions are declining, this could be an indication that something is wrong and action is needed.
During a Crisis
Once a crisis is underway, CRMs can help businesses manage their customer relationships in a number of ways.
First, CRMs can be used to segment customers based on their interactions. This data can then be used to tailor sales and marketing messages to specific groups of customers.
For example, a CRM platform might reveal that a particular group of customers is no longer interacting with the business. This information can help to target these customers with special offers or incentives designed to get them back engaged.
CRMs can also be used to automate marketing activities. This can free up time for sales managers to focus on other tasks.
For example, a CRM platform might be set up to automatically send out marketing emails or create targeted social media ads. This can help keep the business top of mind for customers even when they’re not actively interacting with the company.
After the Crisis
Once a crisis has passed, CRMs can continue to help businesses recover by providing real-time data on how customers have changed their shopping behavior.
How? For instance, the SAP Customer Data Plaform tracks customer interactions and can identify customers who no longer engage with the business. This data can then be used to create targeted marketing campaigns to win back these customers.
CRMs can also be used to segment customers based on their new behavior. This data can then help create custom marketing messages and sales strategies.
For example, a CRM platform might reveal that a particular group of customers is now interacting with the business differently than they did before the crisis. This information can be used to target these customers with special offers or incentives designed to get them back engaged.
Longterm Strategy Development: Can a CRM Fortify Your Business?
Yes! A CRM system strengthens and fortifies a business’s sales from future crisis events. This is primarily by making it easier for salespeople to understand their customer’s behavior from start to finish of the purchasing journey.
But CRMs are not just for strengthening sales teams.
While CRMs are invaluable to sales teams, they can provide benefits elsewhere in a company’s organization. Each business area that interacts with customers or is impacted by customer behaviors can benefit from their organization’s CRM.
Streamline Customer Service
A CRM system can streamline customer service processes by giving customer service reps a 360-degree view of the customer. This means that they can see all interactions the customer has had with the company across all channels. This data can provide faster and more accurate resolutions to customer issues and provide accurate quotes.
Devise Marketing Strategies
A CRM can help key areas of opportunity when devising a marketing plan. For example, a CRM system can track which channels customers are using to interact with the business. This data can then be used to create targeted marketing campaigns and personalized content that reach customers where they’re already spending their time.
Improve the User Experience
How well a customer enjoys their purchasing journey impacts their purchasing decisions. A CRM can improve a company’s overall UX by allowing businesses to track customer interactions and identify pain points. This data can then be used to make improvements to the purchasing journey.
Reduce Supply Costs
CRMs can help reduce supply costs by providing businesses with insights into customer behavior and in-house field efficiencies. This data can be used to predict customer demand, which can then be used to adjust inventory levels.
CRM Solutions: ASAR Digital
In times of crisis, businesses need to be agile and responsive to survive. While companies have always needed to be adaptable, recent events have shown how crucial it is to be able to alter operations and pivot positioning quickly.
CRMs offer a wealth of benefits that can help businesses survive a crisis and come out stronger on the other side. For more information on CRM capabilities and how they can benefit your company, contact the expert team at ASAR Digital.