In addition to building sales and increasing profits through the gathering of data, CRM systems are also valuable for maintaining and nurturing a loyal customer base. But how is the architecture of such a system designed, and how does each part integrate with the others?
CRM system architecture can be broken down into 3 broad categories:
All communications between a business and its customers are recorded, organised and processed in the collaborative section of the software. This means communication by telephone, in person, and by email.
Customer relationships can be nurtured using data already provided by them which demonstrates their shopping patterns and behaviours, likes and dislikes, the times they are most likely to buy, and how much they spend on average.
Businesses use this information to provide enhanced customer service, cross-sell products based on previous buying history, and offer targeted deals to segments of their customer base. Customers can be segmented by various criteria including geographical location, age, gender, and profession, and can be targeted via personalised emails or newsletters offering discounts and deals.
This category within a CRM system deals with the automation of business processes including customer service, data on competitors, industry trends, customer account information and management.
Data is collected and stored within the database, ready for use in day-to-day operations such as management of customer accounts, in addition to overall strategic planning. Detailed information about special customer needs, destined for the sales force, is also stored here. Use of this type of data further enables a business to personalise its approach to customers.
Analytical CRM might result in cross-selling certain items to particular customers based on their previous buying habits, or imparting information relevant only to certain segments of a customer base.
This part of the CRM architecture is also invaluable for identifying changes in the industry as a whole, so that businesses remain agile and respond quickly to changing market demands. Data can be analysed in a number of ways, and graphs, reports and diagrams produced to better illustrate the results.
This is the basic architecture of a customer relationship management system, but the rise of social media and mobile working has brought other, more defined systems to the market. Popular ‘add-ons’ to the basic structure of a CRM solution might include cloud based systems that are accessible from any device.
The key word in CRM is integration – integration of data so that it can be put to use in a way that benefits not only the business, but also customers, suppliers and the workforce. Using mobile technology and social media was the obvious next step in this process, and targets a whole new potential customer base.
CRM Architecture as a whole
The underlying aim of a well-structured CRM system is to provide an enhanced customer experience and enable businesses to gain valuable information as their customers shop. Business owners can use this data to increase sales and boost their bottom line, analysing marketing campaigns, and offering added value to existing and potential customers.