Deliver an Exceptional Customer Experience with These Key CRM Features

February 19, 2021

In 2021, customer satisfaction is no longer just about great customer service: it’s about the entire customer experience. And just when we thought we may have had a handle on exactly what we need to do — and when and how — to improve our customer experiences, along came the pandemic of 2020 and everything we thought we knew went right out the window.

If you’re like most businesses, the coronavirus has changed just about everything that once felt normal. Your offices or facilities may be vacant or at minimal capacity. Your Monday morning water cooler chats may have been replaced by Slack messages and Zoom calls. Your brick-and-mortar storefront likely sees fewer customers, and you’re probably looking for more technology solutions to facilitate sales and transactions while giving your clients more contactless services and product delivery.

In the era of COVID-19, how can you deliver exceptional customer service and improve customer experiences when it’s increasingly challenging to engage face-to-face? How do you make customers feel important — even essential — to your success? If you’re not already using customer relationship management software, or you're not using your existing CRM solution to its fullest capabilities, you’re likely already setting yourself up for a big challenge. That’s because many businesses don’t understand exactly what a CRM is or what it can do for you. Because of that, it can be difficult to know which core features you should look for in a CRM.

What’s a CRM?

A CRM is a customer relationship management tool. It’s primarily a software solution that enables you to automate and manage a number of customer-related functions, from management of your customer database to the ability to create and deliver customer-specific marketing and sales information such as emails, website messaging, social media targeted, call reminders, meeting scheduling, and much more.

Why do you need a CRM?

A CRM can give you insight that’s difficult to achieve with spreadsheets, calendar reminders, sticky notes, and disparate word processing tools, email clients, and contact lists. Think of it as a one-stop shop for all of your customer data and engagement tracking.

CRM Features to Improve Customer Experiences

Here’s a quick look at an example of how you might use a CRM to manage a customer engagement, highlighting some of the key features your CRM should include:

  • A potential customer sees a targeted ad on social media, clicks the ad, and goes to your website.
  • If your CRM uses tracking codes, you can track the potential customer’s engagement from the ad to your website.
  • If your CRM is integrated with the CMS for your website, you can even track your potential customer’s journey through your website. Which pages did the person view? How long did the person engage with your website?
  • As the customer clicks through your site, you can use your CMS and CRM integration to deliver a user-specific pop-up message. Because this is the first time this customers’ IP has been logged on your website, you assume it’s a first visit so you can deliver a message featuring a special savings — 15% off the first purchase or services.
  • To get the savings, all the person has to do is enter an email address.
  • Hopefully at this point, because the potential customer wants that coupon, you’ll get a real email address. Your CRM can now associate that email address with the customer’s engagement as a potential lead.
  • Now it’s time to nurture that lead. What will it take to move that customer from a few clicks on your website to a purchase?
  • As the customer engages with you more, (opens emails, clicks links, returns to your website) you can use your CRM to gather more data. For example, you could have the person provide you with additional contact information, such as name, address, and phone number. All of this data can be stored within your CRM. If the person moves to a sale, and your CRM is integrated with your invoicing and accounting systems, you can even use that data to help speed up form-filling to ensure you’ve got the right data in the right place to complete everything you need from payment to shipping.
  • If your CRM has a lead-scoring feature, you can have it automatically score that person’s engagement with your company along the buyer’s journey. For example, which web pages were viewed, which emails were opened, which links were clicked, which forms were filled out? With a lead score, you can gather more information about how likely it may be that this person will move from a lead to an actual sale.
  • Let’s say a person scores high on your lead-scoring metrics. If your CRM has automated reminders and task-setting, you can send an email or text alert to someone on your team to reach out to the potential customer to facilitate the buyer from consideration to purchase.
  • With CRM integration into your ecommerce site and point-of-sale solution, once the person makes a purchase, you can update the buyer’s information in your CMS system and then use it to provide customer support, like help desks or FAQs. You can also generate a new email campaign to move the customer to another purchase, upsell, or get feedback about the experience.

One of the great things about using these CRM features and the ability to track your customers’ experiences with your company is that you have insight that otherwise would be difficult to get. For example, you can see which email and marketing campaigns generate the most leads and which campaigns generate the most new customers. This will help you fine-tune your engagements for future scaling.

And if your CRM has reporting and analytics, you can access the data you need when you need it, using easy-to-understand dashboards that help you communicate success and gaps to your team and upward to senior leadership and other key stakeholders.

You can even share data from your CRM across multiple teams enabling cross-departmental collaboration, for example with your marketing and sales teams.

CRMs are also great because with their power of automation, you can always engage your customers when they come to you, no matter what time, day or night. And, you can ensure the messages you’re delivering to their needs are tailored so they have a unique and memorable customer experience.

Are you considering a new CRM for your company or do you think you could benefit from one that has more features to meet your needs?

Here are some other features you might want to consider:

  • Can act as a document repository: One of the important components of collaboration and organizational culture is making sure everyone speaks the same language and shares the same message. A CRM is a great place to house and share customer-focused documents, for example, an FAQ or pricing list, so others on your team can access that data and share as needed.
  • Enables forecasting: Earlier we mentioned the benefits of reporting and analytics, which are critical, but you may also benefit from a CRM solution that enables forecasting based on that data (and other data integrated into your CRM).
  • Ease of use
  • Has the features you need now and as you grow
  • Has a simplified pricing model that clearly explains user limits, maintenance fees, upgrade costs, licensing, and more
  • Security: Data is king and data is valuable. Threat actors know that and they’ll do what they can to get to your data, so ensuring your CRM meets all of your legal, regulatory, and compliance standards for data security and privacy is a must.

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