5 Tips to Ensure your CRM Solution Streamlines Customers' Decision-Making Process

The New English dictionary defines a decision as “A conclusion or resolution reached after consideration.” ‘Consideration’ is the active word in this definition and implies that all options have been researched before the conclusion is reached.

Over half (58%) of all consumers research a product or service before they make their decision to purchase. These purchases, either on line, direct sales or brick and mortar purchases are all subject to decision research. Your CRM solution should enable you to provide your customers with the products and services most appropriate for them – in other words, making the decision easier for the customer..

While the promotion and delivery of appropriate products and services is desired, the company must remain faithful to the concept that the customer is the final decision maker and not the company.

Simplifying the buying process for customers
The first step to keeping your customer in the decision making process is in understanding how their choices are made – red or black, affordable or customized, etc. Your customer has access to an overwhelming amount of information about your company and more importantly, to your competitor’s products and services. A recent study noted that 12% of the U.S. population (that’s a little more than 37 million consumers) refers to social media or networks before making a product purchase decision. With information, your customer becomes empowered to make a faster and more mature decision. .

Providing too much information can be as detrimental as not providing enough information. Too little information and your customers will seek it and the product elsewhere, too much information and your customer may become confused and seek a simpler solution. –What your company should do is use your CRM software to help deal with the amount of information available by filtering the 'data', interacting with the customer on their own terms and in the manner they prefer. While your company has amassed loads of information you want to share with your customers, they aren’t really interested. What interests them in this multimedia age is ‘simplicity’ – the ability to glean the relevant facts to make their decision. Your customer wants your best product through the easiest decision making process.

Your company should also maintain an open or holistic approach to its customers. If your CRM information is kept in silo form, the risk of missing a significant number of customers or disengaging a number of customers exists. Ensuring your organization’s CRM users have access to a 360 degree customer view will ensure they can share all relevant information with a customer from across departments to facilitate a quick and easy decision making process.

Using social CRM to improve customer perception
Todays’ CRM software can provide your company with a community management platform. This platform works with all social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. By integrating these social networks into your CRM solution users can be assigned to provide customers with quick and meaningful responses.

Why is social media important? In 2012 Facebook had 845 million active users and had topped 1 billion in total users. YouTube has hundreds of million users internationally and Twitter surpassed the 200 million mark in 2012. Companies can no longer afford to ignore the social media phenomenon and those who react quickly will provide one more link to customer loyalty. Through these social media outlets companies are discovering their strengths and weaknesses as perceived by their customers. There was a time, if a customer’s experience was less than positive it was said that the customer would tell ten others about that experience. With social media those ten others have become 10,000 others who now hear of the experience. By monitoring the reactions and postings of your customers and responding quickly to their postings these experiences can be ameliorated. Quick response leads to increased customer loyalty.

A social media platform or community platform in your CRM software will also enable your company to use keywords to capture leads and negative comments from social networks. This will enable your company to continue the design process or sales process with the customers desires in mind. Showing your customers that you actively listen and react to their questions and concerns improves customer perceptions about your company and brands. Again, a methodology for creating increased customer loyalty, that too without additional software and hardware expenses.

5 tips to improve performance by simplifying decision-making for customers
Involving the customer can be the key to success for marketing any product or service. Using a CRM solution, you can assist customers in the decision making process:

1. Specialized multi-channel marketing - make the benefits and values of your product clear and compelling to the appropriate customer audience through their preferred channels.

2. Dynamic sales and marketing templates - ensure information is shared with customers as per internal business strategies by designing auto-populated templates to ensure uniformity regarding product and service details along with company branding in all communications.

3. Collect important customer information - pinpoint how their decisions are made and ensure your messages are reaching the right customer audience. Encourage responses with feedback to help improve marketing strategies and ensure your campaigns are not considered as noise.

4. Make changes in real-time - measure your success in the ability to refine your message based on customer feedback and increase your ability to reach a wider customer base.

5. Collaborate with customers - if responses from your customers are overwhelmingly negative and numerous issues have been shared by them, collate and analyze the information to improve your products, services and offers.

Remember, when you disengage your customer from the decision making process, only you are responsible for the product or service’s shortcomings. Competitors will use this to their advantage and increase customer churn. On the other hand, allowing customers to freely choose and personalize your products or services will ensure a better customer experience and larger volumes of sales in the long run. Implementing a CRM solution for monitoring and optimizing the entire process from generating a lead to closing a sale will also help increase repeat sales and identify bottlenecks across departments.