The time which we are witnessing now is truly one of its kinds. After all, this is the age which has turned the table of authority upside down. While all these years, the businesses have been ruling the roost – now the power has come into the hands of the customers. (That’s why this period is called the Age of the Customer)
And what are the customers doing with this power?
Controlling the Entire Buying Process
You can see it yourself. For instance, there’s a large chunk of growing customers who are increasingly conducting online research before entering a store to purchase a product. The lifelong concept of sales pitch has taken a backseat. And the salesmen who are still delivering it are facing the negative brunt. The control doesn’t end here. Post sale too, customers have taken the control of their relationships, sharing information with the vendors as and when they want on their preferred channels.
Customer control over data sharing is a straight consequence of what has happened till few years back when companies have misused their customers’ information for own benefit. Now with the reins of power in the hands of the customer – they are excellently controlling which organizations have information about them. They are taking all the necessary steps to reduce the chance of being bombarded by commercial messages.
What implications have this brought for the vendors?
The legislation around the world has supported the customers’ stand for data security. In such a scenario, a big challenge for the vendors’ lies ahead where they need to reshape their data collection processes to comply with customer expectations. However, we should not forget that applying too much restriction on customer data collection can put the companies on the back pedestal. With insufficient data, they can find it complex to learn about their customers and improve service offerings.
So basically, there needs to be a middle way out that controls the inflow and outflow of information (much to the relief of the customers) and simultaneously helps the vendors deliver a useful service.
What do experts suggest?
Experts like Joanne Jacobs and Geoff Albes have written multiple articles on the same topic. Paraphrasing the words of Joanne, here’s what she has stated in relation to customer data protection –
Businesses need to ditch their outdated marketing techniques of sending repetitive, noisy messages. For the simple reason, that this concept doesn’t work anymore. Moreover by doing this, vendors will do the same GRAVE mistake of breaching in the customers privacy.
Targeted marketing can be a more valuable conversion strategy than carpet bombing audiences with marketing messages. In view of the fact that targeted marketing is all about sending relevant content to the customers as per their needs and requirements, this can give a strong feeling to the customers that their interests are being served. Inevitably, this can foster them develop lifelong relationships with the vendors.
CRM Software Solutions
CRM software solutions are the biggest technological weapon that benefits both the vendors and the customers. Implementing which, businesses enable their customers to control information, specify their needs, and succeed in this age.
CRM software becomes responsive to the needs of the customers and gives them the power to manage the vendor. And this is precisely what impresses the customers. It makes them more delighted and satisfied. With complete control of personal data, customers feel their interests are rightly getting served by the vendors.
On the other hand, customer control over personal data ensures that the data is accurate. So business decisions arising from that data have a higher success ratio. Not to forget that the current lot of CRM software comes with social media integration facilities. So the companies always have the option to keep a constant tab on what their customers are posting or sharing in social communities and easily integrate social media activity into customer data.
All in all, using CRM software solutions, vendors find it much easier to deliver a personalized customer service that inevitably translates into strong customer loyalty.
Joanne concludes –
In this age of the empowered customer, the smart vendors are using the CRM software solutions not as a giant advertising database. Rather they are using it as a means to give information control in the hands of the customers.
With the BIG companies setting the standard, now it’s turn of the small and medium-sized businesses to follow the same route too. In fact according to one of the recent surveys conducted by a datacenter group – there’s a steady rise within the SMBs for CRM application development. Apart from improved sales and marketing, the SMBs are focusing on developing the CRM software to use it for controlling the inflow and outflow of customer data and deliver a personalized service.