CRM - an omnichannel's heart
We can say that when it comes to Internet sales, there is a real "arms race" going on. With a growing number of players in the market, similar services, and products, the e-commerce industry is looking for unique solutions that will help to stand out and increase profits. Most of the activities focus on design, usability, selection of appropriate marketing tools, search engine optimization, etc. This is not a bad thing. But the competition is not sleeping. And the success of a company depends on how much you know about your customers and how quickly you are able to respond to their needs here and now.
From statistic to person
In online sales, customers are very often treated only statistically, where they are kind of representation of the data set at the level of different channels of contact with the brand. Companies obtain these very important data from various, dispersed sources (online forms, e-mails and contacts, hotlines, comments and reviews, order history, shopping carts). However, the lack of a central place to manage customer information makes it impossible to precisely read, verify and use it. This is the only way to get a comprehensive picture of the customer, define and skillfully use insights that will no longer be just a statistical result. Instead, he will be a specific person, whose e-commerce manager will provide exactly what he is looking for. That is why the CRM system becomes so important in multi-channel sales.
What is Customer Relationship Managment?
Establishing the right definition for the term Customer Relationship Management is difficult for the entire industry. But the most important thing is to understand that CRM is not just about customer data management software. It is much more about focusing on the needs of customers, building their commitment and experience through a thorough analysis of the information we collect about them. This sets new standards for customer relationship management, both in terms of technology, organization and content.
CRM – new meaning in e-commerce
As it turns out, the biggest challenge for today's retailers is not the lack of data, but the lack of a single, coherent system that will provide them with complete knowledge about the user and enable them to make strategic decisions. An online salesman has access to a whole lot of information from both online and offline channels. A lot of information is provided by customers filling out questionnaires and expressing their opinions. Others come from conversations between employees and customers (both in a call center, information point or sales register). Sales history can be found in customer relationship management systems while purchasing history resides in the ERP system. In addition, there is extensive behavioral information.
What can you do with all of these data? Of course, merge them into one file, which will only probably transmit a reliable image of the client. But how often do most vendors find the time to actually do this? Once a quarter? Maybe every six months? In fact, this approach doesn't guarantee a full view of the customer, it doesn't allow salespeople to see how the customer's behavior and preferences change along with the marketing strategy applied.
What is essential in a multi-channel retail world is a system that will provide those responsible for e-commerce with a single, unified view of their customers across all channels in real-time. This allows you to optimise every interaction with your customers according to their point of view. And we don't need an analysts' crowd for this.
If, as a Facebook user, I click on an advertisement for a product that interests me and I'm redirected to a corporate website, a chat is launched. The person I'm talking to not only knows what I'm interested in and wants to serve me but is able to recommend something additional that will be consistent with my previous choice. And all this to provide better service and anticipate needs before the customer makes a purchase decision.
From CRM to CEM
Just as the traditional Customer Relationship Management approach, where information analysis was used for statistics and profit calculation, is changing to focus on the recipient and optimize interaction with him at all points of contact with the brand, there is another trend: a gradual transition from customer relationship management to customer experience management. The big generalisation is to maximise customer satisfaction at all critical points of contact with the brand.
Customer Experience Management (CEM) may seem a bit futuristic. In fact, it is as old as retail. The only thing that has changed is the technology we have at our disposal to investigate, evaluate and satisfy individual customer preferences.
People say that it is more difficult and expensive to acquire a new customer than to maintain an existing one. At the same time, not every regular customer is the same. One needs more attention, the other needs support from time to time, the other simply does not want to be disturbed. By exploring the needs, preferences and types of customer behavior, we can optimise the consumer's purchasing path at all critical points of contact.
Using CEM as a strategy we adapt our service to the behaviour of the target group. Such management goes beyond simply improving customer satisfaction. Let's remember that an original service, going beyond the scheme and precisely adjusted to the needs of customers, often justifies a much higher price for the same or similar product or service. At the same time, it builds up a crowd of loyal, loyal customers who recommend the company not only to their friends and family, but in all available media.
Finally, it is worth adding that just as the implementation of the omnichannel strategy involves a significant or revolutionary change for the organization, so customer experience management, which is the essence of omnichannel, is a difficult task. To influence interactions with users at every point of contact, organizations must themselves undergo a significant transformation, adapting their systems, processes and infrastructure.
But the effort is worth the investment. Positive customer experiences may translate into increased brand loyalty, higher frequency of purchases, fewer crises and ultimately lower customer service costs.