What Is CRM?

In this post I"m going to be explaining just what CRM is and give a few examples of how a typical CRM works.  To start with, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and its primary purpose is to help your company keep absolute control over your customers information and needs.  Some CRM systems do a really good job at this, some are a bit slack in certain areas, but just what exactly do we mean by absolute control?

To answer that question lets walk through a typical interaction with a customer at nizeX.  The phone rings and it's Mr Smith from ABC Corp.  Before I begin speaking with Mr Smith, I need to either locate manually or automatically (depending on phone interfaces) his customer record.  You've dealt with this at most companies you speak with where they ask for certain information so that they can locate your record.  Once located we're going to begin the "Log Call" operation where we are asked to enter a topic title for the conversation, who we're speaking with and what we discussed.  This is typical information you'd expect any system to ask for with the exception of the Topic.  Lizzy actually uses this to help interlace phone calls so that we can see how many calls were made for a particular problem or issue.  Most systems on the market today do not actually do this and its something we're proud Lizzy is capable of doing.

During the conversation we determine that we need to call this customer back tomorrow to discuss their issue further.  So we click a button to move to our calendar where we can see everything currently scheduled and can choose a time that we can most likely complete the call.  Again, most systems don't actually take you to your calendar but they do at least give you a day to choose to call them back.  While on the phone we start talking about a second issue and in Lizzy we can simply click a button to create a new topic and start that conversation thread.  Noting that we have scheduled a call back on the first topic but the second might actually get resolved during the conversation.  This allows us to keep our notes clean and concise based on what we are discussing instead of mixing everything together into one text field.  We hang up the call and resolve the second topic, leaving only one topic open with a call back for me to call them tomorrow at 1pm.

Before I get a chance to call him back, the customer calls in and starts a discussion with another rep.  The rep sees that there is an open topic and that the customer is calling about the same issue so they opt to create a new conversation and attach it to that topic.  This rep is smarter than I was and they can actually answer the customers question today.  The problem is resolved and they close the call.  When the call is resolved, Lizzy will automatically remove the scheduled call back that I put on my calendar and free up the time slot because I no longer need to contact them.

Another example is a sales call comes in and a sales rep takes the call.  All of the above steps still apply, however, during this call the rep decides that there is actually an "Opportunity" to sell a product to this customer, so on that same topic, they create an opportunity.  They answer a few basic questions about the opportunity and now they have an extra piece of information that not only they, but the entire sales staff can see in the channel.  It helps them to keep up with the serious prospects instead of just logging calls and trying to keep up with everything manually.

Now the managers and owners of the company can easily keep track of how many calls are being made, both in and out of the company, what has been discussed, who their "High Maintenance Customers" are, how are reps comparing to each other, how do they perform on closing deals and so forth.  Instead of trying to manually manage all of this data, they have a CRM system that does it all for them.  And in the case of Lizzy's CRM system they can go even further into actually creating the invoices, quotes, PDM tickets and even allow Lizzy to keep track of all their Accounting and Inventory needs as well.  Obviously these things go way outside the area of CRM but you get the point.

Hopefully this has at least introduced you to the concept of CRM and shown how Lizzy stacks up in the hunt.

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