How to use your CRM data to gain an advantage over your competitors

These 8 stats prove that outstanding customer experience can help to protect the customer base against competitors’ raids. With CRM in place, such service doesn’t rest entirely on sales people’s shoulders.

Established buinesses are being increasingly being disrupted by ambitious market entrant who are keen to challenge your customers’ loyalty.  So how do you protect yourself and your customers from attack? Drawing on CRM consulting, this article suggests in detail how to apply one of 5 commonly overlooked capabilities of CRM software to achieve a strong competitive advantage with an outstanding customer experience.

Step 1: Classify customers to prioritize efforts

To keep customer value and required resources balanced, a company can start with grouping their customers by priority (for example, by using the valuable/vulnerable matrix by HBR). Initially, executives will have to define a set of key factors for both value and vulnerability specific to their company. The value can depend on

  • the number and frequency of purchases
  • revenue
  • LTV
  • strategic importance
  • opportunity size
  • or even the capacity to provide customer reviews

To assess vulnerability, you can analyze customers’ responsiveness to communication in terms of frequency and mood.

How to make it work

With the classification rules approved by executives, sales people can start logging value and vulnerability in customers’ profiles (for example, by putting high/low in dedicated fields or by using an automatic in-CRM calculator based on the rules). In its turn, CRM software will make this data visible for all the touchpoints (service support, field workforce, account managers, technical specialists) to allow every employee to prioritize their tasks with regard to customers’ value and the company’s sales policy.

To further automate routine tasks, the CRM system can be tuned to suggest high-priority tasks to sales people via a to-do dashboard, again, by following the predefined rules. This way, the company will ensure that valuable accounts get exceptional service in the first place. Finally, the VP of Sales can use CRM reports to monitor how the four groups in the valuable/vulnerable matrix perform and timely react to changes.

Step 2: Use CRM to make your service stand out

Once valuable customers are monitored organization-wide, it’s time to follow the tips below to deliver an excellent customer experience.

#1. Make interaction regular

To leave your customers no chance to switch their attention to a competitor, make sure you stay in touch with them via regular emails, news, events, etc. In-CRM workflows and notifications are widely used to keep sales people tuned to such reminders.

Still, a timely ping is not the only means to retain customers. To spot the customers who need warming up, a sales manager can generate a list of those who purchased within the last X months and compare that with the list of valuable customers. This way, they will learn the key accounts that are likely to switch to competitors and can promptly take action. This real-life case shows how a properly tuned CRM system can spot such accounts automatically so as to save sales people’s time.

#2. Add value with every interaction

The storage and analysis of extensive customer data in a CRM allows sales force to put together all the variables (demographic, psychographic, behavioral, etc.) to discover what products and information to offer to the customer and how to do it in the most appealing way. In this regard, a CRM system can be used to automatically suggest up-selling or cross-selling opportunities and the best communication channels, as well as to deliver relevant special offers and content directly to customers via emails or the website.

To make sure marketing materials don’t drown in customers’ mailboxes, some CRMs also allow tracking email openings and clicks on the enclosed links. If a customer doesn’t open emails, say, for 7 days, maybe a sales person should try another way to contact them? Or if the customer opens an email, yet ignores the links and text, may be the content is odd to them?

#3. Be quick to react

According to Forrester, 77% of respondents consider respect to their time the key to exceptional customer service. With artificial intelligence, a CRM tool can analyze the texts of sales agents’ letters, identify unanswered questions or service issues, and prioritize them based on the set rules (like those for value/vulnerability mentioned above). This way, a company can address customer needs faster and contribute to a long-term relationship with key accounts.

#4. Stay consistent across all touchpoints

Today marketing is mostly about multi-channel communication. Yet, a wider accessibility doesn’t equal a higher customer satisfaction. The study by Accenture showed 89% of customers got frustrated because of the inconsistency among channels. Using a single CRM to manage the customer data flowing from different channels allows a company to build an aligned customer experience across touchpoints and gather more details to personalize service.

For example, if a customer reports an issue to the support team, the sales agent or account manager will need no second explanation from the customer thanks to CRM records. Likewise, СRM can prop up an outstanding service in hospitality and catering. Just imagine that every time a guest enters a chain restaurant, the system recognizes them and waiters instantly get on their mobile devices a profile with the most important data (like food and beverage preferences). Then, by logging the bits of customer data gathered during the evening, waiters can easily improve guest profiles in real-time.

#5. Address frustration on social media

Only 30% of customers share positive reviews via social media. At the same time, 95% of bad experiences enter the global network with 63% of them being read (Zendesk). This means, to protect the customer base and turn current customers into brand advocates, companies should strive to deliver a great experience, but know how to recycle a bad one. According to Convince and Convert, an answer to a social media complaint raises customer advocacy by 25%. Just like these stats, the example of Paul Young and CitiBike shows that great service today is about being with the customer when they need it most. A CRM can collect brand or product mentions every time they appear on social networks. And then CRM analytics and alerts will help sales people to stay aware and respond to the point.

Do you know other ways to use CRM for customer service outside the six above? Feel free to share ideas in comments.

Darya Yermashkevich


Darya YermashkevichCRM Technology ObserverScienceSoft

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Darya is a CRM Technology Observer at ScienceSoft, an IT consulting company headquartered in McKinney, Texas. Darya started off as a business blogger researching into web portal solutions, HRM, ITSM, and CRM technologies. Now she shares her hands-on experience based on real-life CRM analysis, as well as insights into the CRM industry in her business writing with a particular focus on customer experience and advanced use of the CRM software.





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