Extensive Product Knowledge: The Often Overlooked Necessity to CRM
3/5/2012 10:49:00 AM
As businesses, we know more about our customers today than we did five years ago. Yet, we still need to improve our customer knowledge to continue to retain,engage and acquire them in large numbers. Companies not only need to have accurate account and contact information and customer-transaction data, they also need to go a step further and gain more visibility into their customer buying habits. We need to know, what types of products are they buying? How are they buying? What vertical markets are they buying in? When are they buying? What are they willing to pay for a product? This is only a snapshot of the typesof information companies may need to improve and support the overall customer experience.
Customer relationships are more than just CRM
What can you do? To help drive the improvement of the customer experience, companies implement Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategies to manage and gain visibility to all customer interactions. They frequently use CRM software solutions to facilitate and capture these interactions in a systematic, automated, unified approach.
But CRM software is only a piece of the puzzle. What else should be captured and currently isn't? Extensive product-knowledge data. Most standard CRM systems include, at best, very elementary product-quote and product-order functionality. I believe this is a major gap in CRM systems today,and I know from my experience this gap is sometimes taken lightly and skirted over by businesses, vendors and consultants alike.
How can we bridge the gap and begin to capture this much needed data to gain extensive product information? You do this by integrating a Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ) solution to your CRM. Think of it as blending the best of CRM and CPQ functionality to produce a robust customer-to-order solution. Commonly, when companies think of CPQ, they think of standardizing the selling process and configuring a product or a service through guided selling methods or engineered-to-order configuration selections. Although this is true, they do so much more.
The value of CPQ is often hidden and not thought about until:
- youcan't produce a product that has been quoted,
- your customer isn't happy with the service you have provided or
- your company can't produce the kind of reports they need to make key business decisions.
Garbage in,garbage out
A pet peeve of mine is the vicious cycle of creating or modifying
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