Positive customer experiences differentiate your business from competitors. Consistently creating those experiences can be challenging, especially with all the other priorities and responsibilities that you and your team face every day.
The good news is that if you’re using a CRM platform you already have the means to enhance the customer experience.
This article will look at what exactly CRM experience means and the practical ways your CRM can help improve the customer journey.
Table of contents
What is CRM experience?
CRM experience refers to harnessing a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to provide customers with the best possible experience at every touchpoint.
CRM encompasses all of the different processes a business uses to track, manage and maintain relationships with its contacts. Usually, these will be contacts in the sales funnel, whether they’re prospects, new customers or loyal advocates.
While you can use a spreadsheet (or even pen and paper) for your CRM, using dedicated CRM software makes it easier to build those customer relationships and track them throughout the sales process.
Some people use CRM software just as a database for storing customer details. However, even without the features a tool like Pipedrive offers, you can easily use the information you store to enhance the customer relationship.
Your CRM is a treasure trove of information on your customers, their activity and their preferences, data you can use to tailor your service to them. As a result, your CRM and the customer experience are closely linked.
The connection between customer experience and revenue
With all the different tasks that businesses already have to deal with, why improve customer experience?
Today’s businesses face an ever-increasing number of competitors, both locally and globally. In the MarTech space alone, there are over 8,000 tools. Even if you create a truly unique product, it won’t be long before other companies offer a solution with similar functionality.
While most features can be replicated, and competing on price can easily become a race to the bottom, it’s not as easy to copy how you treat your customers and the way you make them feel.
Offering excellent customer support is a good start, but this limits your opportunities for positive interactions to when things are already going wrong. Customer success teams take a more proactive approach to this but typically only come into play with existing customers, not prospects in the early stages of the sales process.
The solution is customer experience. According to Harald Fanderl, senior partner at McKinsey, this means looking at all of the interactions a customer has with your company:
“It’s all about putting customer needs at the center of what a company needs to do, and then ensuring along all the touchpoints, and even more so along all the relevant customer journeys, that the customers have a flawless experience.”
A top-tier customer experience supports happy customers and the bottom line. Here’s why you should improve customer experience:
Optimizing the customer lifecycle often involves simplifying business processes and eliminating unnecessary touchpoints. As a result, better CRM customer experience management can help reduce overall costs.
For some purchases, especially B2B transactions or expensive products, the customer journey may be weeks or even months. This is where CRMs help you manage and track customer relationships throughout their journey, so you’re more likely to identify positive experience opportunities
How CRM software can improve customer experience
CRM software comes with plenty of benefits for businesses and their teams, helping them become more productive and efficient. It can also positively impact the customer experience in six specific ways.
Building meaningful relationships
Customer relationship management is more than just tracking names and sales figures. The primary objective is to build and maintain relationships.
The key to any relationship is communication. As businesses grow, these conversations become harder to track manually. Communication happens over multiple channels, meaning important details can be easily missed.
As part of a relationship selling strategy, your CRM strategy can help create personal connections with potential customers and track those conversations. A good CRM solution should also record all of your past interactions, whether that’s an email, a phone call or an order.
Here’s one CRM experience example:
Before your sales rep jumps on a call with a prospect, they can take a look in your CRM at a visual history of every email, call and activity related to that person.
If your prospect said they were going on holiday, your reps could ask them about it. If they were considering another potential solution, your rep could ask how the trial went. Your reps could then ask relevant follow-up questions to learn more about the customer and provide a better experience.
Along with basic contact management (such as a customer’s name, email, phone number and social media accounts), your CRM can also record additional information that can be used for personalization.
This might be their position in the company, how long they’ve worked there and any other connections to your network. For those details that don’t fit neatly into any existing box, Pipedrive’s custom fields can record anything that can help you understand your customer better.
When the prospect becomes a customer, your CRM can prompt you to follow up and ensure they’re getting the most out of the purchase. As well as demonstrating a genuine interest in their success, it can also lead to cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
Segmenting for more relevant service
Even with buyer personas in place, you’ll inevitably learn more about your customers as you start recording data in your CRM. As patterns and trends emerge, dividing your customers into different categories makes it easier to offer a more relevant service and a better experience.
Depending on your goals, you could segment customers in your CRM based on a combination of:
Demographics, such as location and job title
Firmographics, such as industry and company activity
Technographics, such as complementary or competitor solutions
Activity, such as downloads and purchase history
Pipeline stage, such as prospecting or post-purchase
You could also use behavioral segmentation to understand and analyze the different customer journeys, giving you more insights into what your customer might need.
For example, you could set up a custom field in your CRM that records the specific pain points or critical issues they face.
If you know a large percentage of prospects are currently struggling with a complex product, you could record that information under the custom field. You could then filter your leads by these pain points and tailor your messaging to address their biggest concerns first.
By creating and delivering messaging that meets those needs, you can help them progress down your sales funnel with minimal friction.
Using automation for low-touch activities
When you’re treated like a person rather than an account number, it contributes to a great customer experience.
While individual, white-glove service might be possible for a small business serving a handful of customers, it quickly becomes difficult as your business grows.
Today’s CRM systems can automate a wide range of tasks, assisting your marketing and sales teams so that nothing slips through the cracks. It’s important to choose the right activities to automate. Your customers still crave personal attention, especially when they have niche questions or complex issues.
Before you decide what to automate, you’ll first need to understand your workflows. What tasks do your sales reps and marketers have to deal with?
Pipedrive’s State of Sales Report found that salespeople have a lot more than just sales to handle, with 16% saying they spend most of their day on administrative support.
What do you spend most of your workday on?
A lot of these activities are repetitive and time-consuming, especially if they need to be done several times a day. Many of them can be handled by workflow automation, saving time and money while also removing the risk of human error.
Use your CRM tools to automate data entry for all your customer interactions, such as phone calls, emails and chatbot transcripts. You can also use the information from your CRM to create templates and automate personalized email marketing campaigns without having to manually write each message from scratch.
For example, with Pipedrive’s workflow automation templates, you can quickly set up an email marketing automation every time a new person is added to the CRM (e.g., sending a welcome email to a new prospect or alerting colleagues about a new contact).
Even with the most advanced CRMs, there are limits to what you can automate. Connecting your CRM with other applications (using integrations or APIs) opens up far more possibilities for automation, such as allowing you to:
See details on leads that visited your website
Send updates over Slack when a deal is added or closed
Import LinkedIn contact information
Request e-signatures for your proposals and contracts
Update your project management apps as deals move through the pipeline
Automating low-value activities will help free up your team’s time for more high-touch activities that impact the customer experience.
One source of truth for your team
Throughout the stages of the customer’s journey, they’ll come into contact with various people on different teams. Each interaction will affect the customer’s overall experience. To ensure that the experience is consistent, everyone needs access to the same information.
CRM software is an ideal “single source of truth”, holding all the information everyone on your customer-facing teams could need to best serve the customer. Salespeople are used to tracking and managing their sales activities in the CRM, and although marketers don’t typically work directly with the CRM, many of the tools they use can integrate with it.
This helps both sales and marketing efforts to be better aligned, resulting in a win-win situation for both your business and your customers. Aligned teams provide consistency to the customer experience. Furthermore, highly aligned companies grow 19% faster and are 15% more profitable.
Your CRM can only serve as a shared source of truth if the customer data it holds is accurate. Ensure everyone who uses the CRM is trained properly and appreciates the importance of keeping it up to date.
You can use automation to update the CRM with all the relevant information after every customer engagement to avoid things like human error or missed details. Likewise, integrating your CRM with your other tools ensures information is synchronized in real time for all team members, whether they’re working directly from the CRM or not.
Creating customer-focused processes
When businesses start putting processes and procedures into place, they typically prioritize their needs. What’s the easiest, cheapest or most convenient way to do a certain task?
Using the data from your CRM, you can switch the focus to creating the best possible experience for your customer: one that’s easy for them and makes their needs and convenience a priority. If a customer has to put in too much effort or faces too much friction, they’ll soon switch to a competitor that’s easier to deal with.
An effective CRM experience project will impact all customer-related processes across the business, as well as the people and software associated with those processes. By using your CRM to monitor customer journeys, you’ll soon see any dips in engagement or friction points.
Review those processes and experiment with ways to make them better for the customer. This doesn’t necessarily mean rewriting every process – sometimes, small adjustments can have a big impact on customer experience management.
For example, by tracking what communication channel your customer prefers to use, you can reach out in that channel. If your CRM includes a tool for scheduling appointments, let customers pick a time to chat that suits them rather than putting them through back-and-forth email chains.
Likewise, tracking those interactions and conversations makes true omnichannel communication possible. Rather than making your customer repeat themselves to a different rep or when using a different channel, a quick glance at your CRM will give you all the customer information you need.
Use your CRM to “listen” to your customers. When you’re using the data about your customers within your CRM to make changes on their behalf, you’re making the experience better for them. On the other hand, if your customers don’t feel heard, their experience suffers.
Greater insights into your customer
A CRM isn’t for collecting as much data as possible. Rather, it’s for getting the right data that gives you deeper insights into the real people you’re talking to. Think of your CRM as a place where you can understand more about your customers and how they feel about you and your product.
Your CRM is full of information and data that are vital to growing your business and improving the customer experience. Unfortunately, decoding that CRM data and using it to generate meaningful insights isn’t always straightforward.
Ideally, your CRM will provide you with easily-understood sales reports and customer activity summaries for your main metrics and KPIs. These can reveal what your customers are up to, which products are most popular and who on your team is getting the best results. If you’re more of a visual thinker, visual sales pipeline reports make it easier to see where customers are in the pipeline, so you can take any necessary actions to help them proceed and improve their experience.
You can also add insights from your marketing platforms to your CRM, allowing you to see which messaging is more effective for each segment and making it easier to optimize future campaigns.
As businesses face greater competition, an outstanding customer experience is a key differentiator. With the information and insights in your CRM, you can provide that experience.
When used as the single source of truth for all your customer-facing teams, you can get a better understanding of your customers and the journey they go through. In turn, this empowers you to build stronger customer relationships, get better insights into their behaviors and streamline processes so that they’re optimized for the customer experience in your CRM.