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CRM For Beginners ? Customer Relationship Management Basics

In order to maintain a successful business, the business must understand and maintain a positive relationship with its customers. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the process of bringing the customer and the company closer together. There are many different areas in which Customer Relationship Management can be implemented. The goal of CRM is to help a company maintain current customers, as well as gain new customers.

Targeted Marketing

Targeted marketing is accomplished through collecting information about the customer. This information can be buying habits or simply demographics. The idea behind this is that a business analyzes what a customer buys and then markets specific products to that customer based on his or her buying habits. Businesses track buying habits using discount cards, and special store credit cards. Targeted marketing can also be implemented on the Internet. Amazon.com has product recommendations based on buying habits, and product ratings. Customers can also be sent e-mails that market targeted products. Marketing the right products to the right customers can significantly increase a business' sales with minimal associated costs.

Call Centers and Customer Service

Have you ever called a business to complain or ordered a product and encountered an automated call response (I.E. "please press 1 for questions, 2 for comments" etc.)? That's CRM. Call centers that take calls and monitor customer/business interactions are often running on hosted CRM programs. CRM managers want to make call centers as efficient and customer-friendly as possible. A customer who can easily navigate through an automated system is more likely to do business with the same company in the future. In the case of a complaint, a customer whose problems are responded to immediately is more likely to forgive and forget a company's transgressions. Customer service is the backbone of all CRM processes and strategies.

CRM Vendors

Not surprisingly, in order to successfully collect data, manage call centers, analyze data, and make changes, businesses need CRM software. There are many CRM vendors in the world. The most widely-recognized vendors are Siebel, Salesforce.com, and Microsoft. Each of these vendors has contributed to CRM in its own way.

CRM Applications

There are many different types of CRM applications. Some CRM applications are Web-based so they can be accessed via a browser. Other CRM applications have programs built in for integrating data entries and data management across several applications. CRM vendors also have specific strategies that are unique to every client. The goal of a CRM vendor is to not only upgrade a company with the latest CRM technology, but also to design the companies infrastructure in such a way that the customer/company relationship can flourish.

Conclusion

Knowing the customer is the key to a successful business. Customer Relationship Management is the process through which a business analyzes their customers and makes changes accordingly. CRM vendors provide applications and advice on the best CRM methods. Most observers believe that CRM practices will continue to flourish as new CRM strategies and technologies are developed. For any business, a successful CRM approach is a must-have.

Matt Hogansworth writes about CRM software and other CRM topics.

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