To facilitate growth, small and medium sized businesses must work to build systems that will streamline processes to create efficiency and promote productivity. Businesses often invest in a number of tools to gain insight into their operations and customers, through customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions. Both CRM and ERP offer a number of benefits to a business, but to make the most of what they have to offer, integrating your solutions is the answer.
Why CRM Matters
CRM focuses on customer data, designed to manage contacts, leads, events, and more. It places all customer data in a central location so sales, marketing, and customer service teams can work together. Since every dollar spent on CRM yields $8.71 CRM can help your business grow exponentially.
CRM gives you the power to truly understand your customers. With it, you can discover valuable information about what your most active customers are doing, and what incentive your potential customers need to convert to paying customers. Customer profiles allow you see what they’re looking for so you can adjust your products and services to serve them better.
New leads are quickly and easily added to the system and categorized to better target your marketing efforts, cut down on response time, and move to the next opportunity faster.
Understanding your customers better gives you the information you need to find cross-selling and upselling opportunities, and to leverage more sales from your existing customer base. Since it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, keeping the existing customers happy is a critical component to success.
Because CRMs integrate well with other tools, lead data can automatically be captured from your website’s contact form and sent to a sales professional for follow up. As each customer moves through the funnel, marketing materials can be adjusted accordingly, to nurture the lead and develop a relationship with the person.
When a customer purchases your product or service, your customer service team is automatically updated and equipped to provide a better experience for the customer. Quality customer service is paramount. U.S. businesses lose $41 billion a year due to poor customer service, and 44% of consumers take their business to a competitor as a result.
Why ERP Matters
ERP focuses on improving efficiency across business processes to reduce costs. The right ERP allows businesses to share information across all departments, improving workflow and better integrating operational data and processes in business. Traditionally used by large corporations, even small businesses can benefit from implementing ERP. Accurate ERP systems that show real-time information for daily operations help companies reduce operational costs by 23%, while also reducing administration costs by 22%.
When everyone in the business can access the same information, rather than segmenting important information to department-specific areas of the business, the business ultimately runs more efficiently. Without an ERP approach, each department has to re-enter data as an order moves from processing to fulfillment, or as a client makes their way through the sales funnel. This is not only tedious, but increases the risk of error, which could create unnecessary customer service issues.
Consistent information across all areas of the supply chain saves valuable time on all levels. For instance, as the business grows and changes, the human resources department can determine the need for additional staff recruitment, and senior management can get a clearer picture of operations, allowing them to make more informed decisions about investment and resource allocation.
Since investing in ERP can be a costly undertaking, it’s important to meet with consultants from various companies to be sure you clearly define priorities and plan a system that will work best for your business. Implementation time will vary on a variety of factors, including the size of your business, required customizations, training, and process changes.
Once implemented, ERP automation tools can analyze your company’s big data to identify potential pain points, allowing you to improve business processes.
Harnessing the Power Through Integration
Combining the use of a CRM with ERP enhances business workflow in a number of ways. In the traditional business setup, CRM is left with the sales and marketing team, and finance and operations handle ERP. Though this approach works, it’s not the most efficient way to do business. It creates disjointed “islands” of information, segmenting areas of the business that should be working together.
Using CRM and ERP together in your business creates an even, central flow of information accessible to everyone who needs it. Removing data barriers improves productivity and cuts wasted time in customer service.
Both CRM and ERP can help your business save money. CRM allows you to laser-target marketing efforts to avoid spending time and money on customers who won’t convert. ERP streamlines processes so you’re not investing in unnecessary software and equipment to run the technical side of your business. That frees up capital to invest in other areas of your business to foster growth: additional staff, more marketing and promotion, product/service development, etc. With the streamlined processes and key customer data, you’re also setup to increase overall profit.
Ultimately in any business, the customer is all that matters. Unless your business can serve them quickly and efficiently, you cannot expect to remain in business long. Your CRM helps improve your targeted marketing efforts to bring more customers into the business, and your ERP makes delivering on those promises simpler.