Fostering and Strengthening Client Relationships

Healthy client relationships are a crucial part of the success of your business. Fostering and strengthening these relationships requires more than just capturing the financial transactions of your business. It involves using customer relationship management software. Accounting software can only do so much. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is often mistakenly categorized as a sales tool by most business owners, and while it is a fantastic sales tool, a CRM is also mighty in helping to strengthen client relationships. CRMs help businesses understand their customers better than your ERP does.

CRM & ERP – what is the difference?

CRM software ensures companies record every interaction with present and prospective clients. CRMs capture every minute detail of the company’s engagements with clients and prospects. Integrating a CRM with your ERP ensures that customer satisfaction levels are high. The ultimate goal when implementing a CRM is building trust with your customers for the company and maintaining a healthy long-term relationship with them.

An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is pre-packaged business management software used to improve the enterprise’s overall performance. While not every business is an “Enterprise,” most medium to large companies require an ERP system. A prominent feature of an ERP is the shared database between accounting and operational transactions that provide an array of functions used by the organization’s various departments.

Nearly all growing businesses will need both ERP and CRM either as a single platform for both or an integrated solution. Just as we see entry-level software users having outgrown their solution and turning to ERP systems like Spire, the same can be said for businesses managing their customer relationships either within stand-alone tools like Microsoft Outlook, Excel or even areas within an ERP that weren’t necessarily designed for that.

CRMs – More Than Just a Sales Tool

Companies with relatively straightforward financials and a large customer base requiring frequent contact would need a good CRM to help manage all the customer interactions.

The benefits of having integrated CRM are high. Collaboration is one of the top reasons to have a CRM. Sales, customer service and accounting can collaborate on a customer account or have transparency throughout the departments when working on a sale or new customer. Automation within a CRM eliminates duplicate work and human error while offering consistent branding and communication throughout the organization. Improved customer experience can easily be seen in a short time as customers like it when company representatives know their account details. Ultimately, build lasting relationships by consistent contact with your clients and prospects using little effort. All of these benefits lead to increased revenue for the company.

CRM client acquisition benefits:

  • Maintain centralized database
  • Manage communications and interactions with prospects
  • Automate data entry
  • Follow-ups
  • Better organized contact data
  • Segment prospect
  • Create sales forecasts
  • Scale sales process over time
  • Monitor and maintain the acquisition process

 CRM client retention benefits:

  • Maintain detailed history of account (before they became a customer)
  • Audit trail of all communications
  • Follow-ups
  • Better internal team communication
  • Create sales reports beyond just dollars & items
  • Opportunity to improve sales cycle, onboarding of customers, customer lifetime relationship
  • Monitor and maintain retention process

Automation and Integration

Does this sound familiar to you? A prospect reaches out via your company’s website, your team receives an email notification and proceeds to enter the details manually into your lead capturing “system.” Perhaps all leads get entered as a “lead” without any identifiable metrics to see how interested someone is. Or even to identify that they may already be a customer.

Your company has four strong pillars with four different sets of data! Your marketing team has customer information, and your sales team has different information on the same customer. Yet, the customer service and accounting teams also have a completely different set of customer data. Spreadsheets or other documents on a team member’s desktop are not visible to other departments. Siloed departments with a lack of transparency contribute to customer dissatisfaction and lost sales opportunities.

An integration between your CRM and ERP will provide transparency between departments, and specific automation tools within a strong CRM will automatically place that “Contact Us” lead and nurture it according to the sales processes you have in place. Automation can extend triggers to launch particular tasks and activities throughout multiple departments, improving efficiency, response time and follow-ups, all critical ingredients to customer satisfaction.

Dashboards & Shared Data

Cost per lead and ROI on promotions are important measurable pieces of data that can help you improve your customer relationships. Not knowing where a sale came from or how much of an investment (in both time and money) you made in a particular campaign or promotion can sometimes result in inaccurate reporting. CRMs provide metrics that your accounting software won’t, particularly with email campaigns. Details such as:

  • Open rates
  • Click rates
  • Conversion rates
  • Shares or forwards
  • And more

This type of data can be shared throughout the organization and allow for improved ideas on providing stellar service, knowing what customers are interested in, and helping various departments with their projections, from cash flow, purchasing and customer service.

Valuable and insightful data tends to exist in several different areas. Department heads waste time retrieving required data from multiple resources; ERP, Google Analytics, MailChimp, or others. A good CRM will allow for dashboard reporting and, when integrated, can also pull financial data from the ERP. One dashboard report with data from different departments can be a powerful and insightful tool.

Dashboard reporting has become a very trendy term, and while they mean something different to everyone, dashboard reports should offer real-time results. If you’ve wanted a dashboard report for your department, consider defining what that report would look like for you.

For example, businesses need to know what they want to see at an individual role level – dashboards for the CEO are not the same as the warehouse manager. These basic categories help define what most dashboard reports offer:

  • Operational: The most common dashboard type, with metrics updating in real-time showing data related to daily operations. An operational dashboard provides a detailed look into the business’ performance. This type of dashboard allows a large amount of data without too many drill-downs.
  • Analytical: Use data from the past to identify trends that can influence future decision-making. Usually, those who want an analytical dashboard require a level of understanding that a typical user may not have.
  • Strategic: Track performance with your key performance indicators to better align actions with strategy. If you are looking for a dashboard to share with your whole organization, consider creating a strategic dashboard.

Therefore, healthy client relationships are crucial and they are completely manageable when businesses use a CRM integration with their accounting software.

Spire Integration Partner Gemini Logic has built an integration between Spire and HubSpot, a user-friendly and powerful CRM. Together, these software solutions offer functionality that allows businesses to foster new client relationships and strengthen the ones they have. To learn more about HubSpot Connect for Spire, click here.

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