If you’re considering a CRM system for your own business, it is important to understand the difference between the different types that are available, and which one is right for you. There are three types of CRM system: operational, analytical and collaborative.
Operational CRM systems focus on simplifying the customer experience, particularly in relation to sales and marketing. They help to manage the whole customer journey, from their first click on your website, through your lead forms and sales funnels, and then once they are a customer. They typically provide automation – for marketing, sales and service – thereby reducing the workload of your staff and continuing to provide a consistent level of service, even when the company is scaling up.
Operational CRM systems are the most common type. They are ideal for helping teams better understand their customers by nurturing the relationships with them and for making processes more efficient for the company’s staff. They are an important tool for lead generation in particular as they deal with past customer interactions such as previous marketing campaigns, purchases and service satisfaction. As with all CRM systems, accurate data entry is key and this can sometimes be time consuming, particularly for small businesses.
How an operational CRM could work for you
Imagine you have 1000 emails to send to promote an upcoming sale. If you had to manually write and send these individually, you’d need lots of staff or lots of time. An operational CRM system allows you to create standardised email responses – personalised with your customers’ names – and send them quickly. Your customers get the information they need faster and you don’t have to invest in additional staff.
Analytical CRM systems analyse your customer’s data to gain insights. These insights can help to identify trends in your customers’ behaviours, clarify their wants and needs, narrow down their buyer personas and discover upsell opportunities. This in turn leads to a better understanding of what the common customer problems are and how to solve them. By responding to this data and personalising or customising your approach to suit your customers, sales and retention will increase. The data gleaned is also vital to identifying accurate lookalike audiences to market to.
Analytical CRM systems are great for mid-size and large businesses who need to understand a large amount of data which would be too much for an individual to manage. They can be more difficult to understand than operational CRM systems but the benefits are clear: increased customer satisfaction; increased sales; increased retention. This comes at a cost though, as they are in a higher price bracket than operational CRM systems.
How an analytical CRM could work for you
When a customer purchases a product (let’s say, a blue branded t-shirt in medium size) this product information is stored alongside the customer’s details within the company’s CRM system. The next time this customer purchases from the same brand, or in the same colour or size, the CRM would recognise these as the customer’s preferences. This information can then be used by the company to automatically send the customer discount codes or coupons for the particular brand or product type and information about other similar products, satisfying the needs of the customer and improving their market share.
Collaborative CRM systems ensure that all members of a business have access to the same up-to-date customer data, whether they be in different departments, countries or even continents. This integration saves customers from that dreaded experience of having to repeat themselves every time they talk to somebody new (we’ve all been there!)
Collaborative CRM systems tend to be more focused on customer satisfaction and retention than making sales, although they undoubtedly still contribute to the sales process through the relationship development they facilitate. They are great for businesses with many departments, especially those with multiple locations or channels. However, it is imperative that a customer’s records are updated after every single interaction with a business, or you could fall at the first hurdle.
How a collaborative CRM could work for you
Imagine you are a telecommunications company and you receive some customer complaints about a bad connection. With a collaborative CRM, the customer service team can establish how many customers are experiencing the same problem. If this is widespread they can contact the technical support team and request a fix. The technical support team can access the CRM system to see who has been affected by the issue and try to resolve it. Say the issue now requires a physical maintenance team to attend a particular location – they will be able to confirm exactly what the issue is and where to attend. When the issue is resolved, the maintenance team can update the CRM system and the customer service team can contact each customer using their preferred channel (phone, email, online chat) to advise of the solution. This information can then be shared with the marketing team, who can tailor future messages.
Pro tip: One thing to remember is that any CRM is only as good as the data within it, so make sure your data entry is spot on.
Want to know more about CRM systems and whether they are worth it? Take a look at the pros and cons here.