How to Use Your CRM to Build Better Customer Experiences

Filed in Customer Experience on June 28, 2016 by

Machine learning. Artificial intelligence. Behavioral science.

These buzzwords foreshadow the rise of smarter software and for marketers this means powerful ways to reach our customers. In the near future, your CRM will be a behavioral modeling engine, using predictive technologies to help sales teams make the right move at the right time. It will know both why and when prospects engage, allowing you to take personalized selling to a new plateau.

But what about right now?

There are untapped opportunities sitting in front of CRM users today. Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, says “The reality is a lot of our customers still don’t have a comprehensive customer database, their core employees are not connected in a robust way with their customers. That remains the biggest opportunity.”

Are you one of those customers? The platform offers you powerful ways to understand the customer journey, engage at the right time and personalize your outreach—and now’s the time to start getting the most out of these features. Follow these steps to start building a better customer experience using the tools you already have.

Visualize Your Customer Journey

If you haven’t mapped your customer journey, the process will be revealing, if not a bit painful. You’ll find gaps where bridges must be built, but each of these opportunities is a new chance to create a stronger connection with your prospects. If you’ve already built out your customer journey think about revisiting it at regular intervals. Your market grows, your audience matures and their needs change. You don’t want to be the last to know.

Building a great customer experience starts with understanding the customer journey, so how do you start charting this map?

  • Ask. Your customers will answer questions about their needs, and all you have to do is ask them. Surveys promoted on social, tradeshow/ convention outreach and the standard NPS polls you’re already conducting are all great ways to start that conversation. Make sure you capture the answers in your CRM, marketing automation platform, or whatever makes sense for you. Don’t just ask customers, ask your platform. What metrics matter to your organization? Make sure you’re capturing them properly.
  • Listen. Asking isn’t worth anything if you aren’t listening too. Listen to the negative responses as well as positive feedback. Listen to your data as well. It is easier to misread data than you think.
  • Guide. Sometimes customers don’t know what they want until they see it. Take a leap, take a risk and fill in parts of the customer journey that you know will build a better experience.

Map the entire journey, from the first interaction with your brand to customer advocacy. As that lifecycle progresses, does your message change? How does your connection change as the prospect becomes a customer?

As you build the flow of your customer journey, give yourself the flexibility to change as the data you collect fills out a deeper narrative. Maybe you see an uptick in customer support tickets that traces back to inconsistent messaging, engagement in the wrong customer channels or a poor cadence in marketing messages. Let the rich behavioral data mined by your platform inform future interactions.

Use Rich Behavioral Data to Predict Customer Interactions

Rich behavioral data is critical to building the best user experience but it can be hard to pin down. What does it look like? Where does it come from? You’re already collecting behavioral data even if you aren’t using it to predict customer actions.

Engagement rates, user flow through your site, drop-offs, NPS scores and social engagement are all valuable pieces of behavioral data. When you plug this into a CRM or marketing automation platform, you can start to build a stronger narrative around your audience.

The future-tech may not be here yet, but you can use the data you’ve already collected to make informed decisions and spot holes where customers are failing. Once you’ve established a customer journey and made sure you’re continuing to mine behavioral data, it’s time to put it all together.

Build a Real Cross-Channel Solution

Creating meaningful connections with your customers means going cross-channel with your customer experience. You are probably already engaging across email, social, retargeted ads, SMS, and banners, focusing your time, effort and money on digital campaigns. There’s a good reason for that; we know digital outreach is table stakes, and those channels can be cost effective and drive customer engagement.

But the best-in-class leaders are using more than just digital. They’re focusing on physical, tactile engagement as well. And they’re bringing on-demand, personalized and scalable campaigns to the world of direct and dimensional mail.

Studies show that engagement, retention, and perceived value are all higher with tactile pieces. This is why these leaders are using solutions, like PFL’s Personal Marketing Center™ (PMC), that integrate with their existing CRM or MA platform, are easy to use and offer the rich analytical capabilities for real insight into campaign efficacy. Solutions like PMC give professionals tools to truly “connect in a robust way with their customers.” By building those connections on behavioral data you’ve captured and mapped, you’re able to provide the relevant experiences that drive prospect engagement and build customer advocacy in a real, meaningful way.

You’ve Got to Start Somewhere

No matter where you are in the customer lifecycle mapping process, there’s value in looking at it again with a critical eye. Remember to capture the data you need to deliver on the promise of individual connection. Make the necessary, sometimes challenging changes to begin leveraging that data once you have it systematically cataloged. And use the best of breed solutions, like the PMC, to keep your outreach relevant, timely, trackable and seamless.

So what are you waiting for? Get to it!  

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