At nearly every turn, manufacturers are inundated with information about the latest technologies promising to catapult their organizations to new levels of efficiency and productivity. It can be difficult to weed through all the options to understand which systems will actually bring results.
One such system is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. While it truly can bring many benefits to an organization, what most discrete manufacturers want to know is, “Will it be worth the investment?” In other words, what’s the ROI?
In a survey of 400 manufacturing professionals, 43 percent indicated they saw ROI on their CRM implementations in just one month, and 95 percent showed ROI within a year. Outdated systems, however, threaten to diminish results for many. It’s estimated that a third of manufacturers’ systems are 6–10 years old and most operate on multiple platforms, leading to redundant and error-prone data entry and lack of departmental collaboration.
Consider how much technology has evolved in the past decade. CRM systems have evolved, too. If your CRM is outdated, or you’ve yet to implement one, you’re likely experiencing the following pain points. Let’s take a look at how CRM can help.
1. Tenuous Supplier Relationships
Manufacturers rely on their supply chains to get products to market on time. When expectations are unmet or, worse, not communicated clearly, it can lead to misunderstandings and strained vendor relationships. Modern CRMs can integrate with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to collect supply chain data and offer insights into inventory, production scheduling, delivery, and more.
CRM data can indicate which vendors experience the fewest delays and associate them with a preferred vendor list. It can also serve as a way to capture correspondence, delivery tickets, order information, and costs, revealing potential issues that need to be addressed or shining a light on high-performers. Accurate data allows an organization to hold its vendors accountable and potentially reduce the number of suppliers or make a case for seeking new ones.
2. Working in Silos
CRM helps create transparency across departments. It’s not uncommon for the sales department, marketing, and customer service to work independently of each other. Salespeople keep track of leads, follow up, meetings, etc. on their individual laptops or notes. Marketing implements its promotional campaigns through a separate platform. Customer service documentation about issues with a product or client is housed in yet another platform with each representative creating his or her own system for organizing the data and determining what’s important to note. Do you see the problem? Every customer touchpoint from one department to the next ends up starting from scratch, leading to frustrated clients and employees alike.
When each department tracks information in a CRM, sales can gain insights into the leads that marketing attracts by knowing what content pieces they’ve downloaded, how often they’ve visited the company’s website, or if they’ve clicked a custom link in an email, giving details about what they’re researching and interested in. Likewise, real-time data about service issues are documented to inform others about potential impediments in a customer relationship or opportunities for timely follow up to ensure issues have been resolved. This kind of cross-departmental collaboration is what leads to better communication and stronger customer relationships.
3. Poor Productivity
Unorganized data and information contribute to poor productivity and inefficiencies. When information is readily available, whether in the office or in the field, more time is freed up to perform critical duties that contribute to an organization’s bottom line. Modern CRM systems offer robust mobility, allowing sales or service representatives to access customer data on-the-go. When greater communication happens between departments, there’s less need for costly meetings, redundant processes, and additional administrative work.
4. Slumping Sales
Sales teams can become more effective when customer and sales data is organized in a single platform. Because sales can track marketing activity and view customer service issues, they’re able to gain a greater understanding of a client’s interests, past history with the company and potential pain points to help lead conversations and handle objections from an informed perspective. No more being blindsided on sales calls because a salesperson wasn’t aware of past service issues or delayed orders. This kind of full disclosure inevitably results in shorter sales cycles and greater client retention because of the proactive approach that leads to more trusting client relationships.
5. Less than Stellar Customer Service
The process of winning a customer can take months and sometimes years, and the acquisition costs can be considerable. It’s well known that keeping customers is far less costly than winning new ones, yet poor customer service experiences can tarnish relationships and send clients seeking elsewhere to meet their needs.
A CRM database allows customer service personnel to manage and resolve issues within the system, and even assign issues to a particular representative so that a customer can work with the same person every time to build rapport and understanding rather than having to explain an issue again and again to someone new. The historical data included in the CRM gives sales and customer service equal access to information about customer interactions to improve the customer experience and form stronger relationships.
The functionalities available with today’s CRM systems are far more robust than systems of the past. The Cloud and mobility in itself has made a significant impact by creating access to real-time data from anywhere and allowing for instant updates and easier upgrades. Newer systems are also more intuitive and user-friendly and, unlike in the past, manual uploading and syncing with other systems is no longer required and is now typically automated, leading to better quality data and accuracy.
A true CRM solution will have the capability to scale with your growing business and provide considerable ROI. Wipfli can help you integrate the latest technology with your existing systems for optimal results. Reach out to one of their experts today for a no-cost assessment.