What is CRM and why is it important?
In simplest terms, customer relationship management (CRM) is the process that companies use to house and track all their communications within their organization and/or with outside partners via a system. In some cases, it may be referred to as corporate relationship management, but the concept is the same. It’s a strategic management resource that can connect brands to their customers or businesses to their clients, providing a stronger and longer-lasting relationship with measurable performance metrics.
Think about how a furniture store sends a follow-up email, enticing customers to complete a bedroom set they just bought a nightstand from. Or how a vendor knows exactly how many units a company ordered this time last year and asks if it’s time to replenish them. How does the email sender know what businesses did in the past and what might make their life easier in the future?
A CRM can be the difference between building a lifecycle with customers and clients or letting those relationships fall through the cracks for competitors to steal. Its benefits range from operational (e.g., automating communications), to analytical (e.g., analyzing customer data), to collaborative (e.g., sharing information across departments). In a world where 90 percent of companies do not acknowledge or inform the customer that an email has been received, keeping tabs on relationships may be the differentiating factor in how businesses operate.
What does this mean for U.S. government agencies?
For federal, state, and local governments, a CRM can make transparency for relationships with its clients, partners, and vendors, and collaborating within its own units seamless. A CRM for government agencies means better tracking of projects, more efficient workstreams, and takes the guesswork out of who’s talking to whom. If government agencies want to measure the efficacy of their partnerships to determine what’s working and what’s not, they should consider these four reasons why a CRM may be the gateway to success.
1. Strengthen relationships with streamlined processes and information sharing. At its core, a CRM helps track what stage a relationship is in with defined variables that an entire organization can rely on. This makes following up with partners easier across teams because each team member can see what communications have already been completed and what needs to happen next. For government agencies, this means that there are no gaps if someone moves to a new project or leaves the agency entirely, as their entire relationship would be tracked at each stage within the CRM.
2. Track, measure, and report success. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the bottom line for any business, who wants to measure the success of their projects and determine how effectively their money was used. A CRM means anyone can pull reports at any time to track how a project is moving along, what resources are still needed, and, with clean data, potentially how each dollar has been spent. If government agencies want to continue funding projects, then defining their return on investment (ROI) is crucial.
3. Maintain professionalism and provide best in class customer service. With a CRM, the government can create a uniform approach in responses to partners that provides personalized communications with timely follow ups. Sixty-six percent of customers choose other businesses because they feel ignored when interacting with companies. By creating templates with approved language and tokens to automatically fill in partner data, employees can make sure they are using consistent messaging across the agency, regardless of the point of contact.
4. Ensure security. Not only can a CRM database track communications and data flows in real- time, but users can set up data backups. Should there be any kind of disaster, client information can be safe and secure with the right IT infrastructure in place. Along with cybersecurity training for teams and designated CRM administrators, a CRM can help government agencies ensure their data is sealed tightly.
How has COVID-19 changed the role of a CRM?
The importance of a collaborative tool has become paramount as more employees in all industries head for remote offices with the possibility of remote/in-person work becoming the norm. Being able to share data, track project progress, and relay performance metrics has become more than just a want — it’s a need. Companies have quickly found that without a true database solution in place, they are drowning from lack of efficiencies. Now the race for the best client experience begins, and only businesses with defined processes with user-friendly CRMs, clean data, and trained employees will come out on top.
WBD knows the value of a CRM for government agencies.
Washington Business Dynamics (WBD) is proud to support our client United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in its efforts to expand its CRM process into an enterprise-wide system that provides better real-time visibility into, and more strategic management of, sometimes high-risk, high-profile, external Agency relationships, including those with private sector partners. Through this development, WBD seeks to amplify USAID’s Private-Sector Engagement (PSE) Policy and that private sector engagement will accelerate across the Agency.
As a leader in the government consulting space, WBD knows the importance of strategic CRM and how to implement it. With a comprehensive process of auditing, proposing, implementing, and optimizing, WBD can craft the right CRM solution for government agencies and beyond.
Author: Jessica Lewis, Lead Consultant at WBD, is a CRM and strategy professional engaged with the firm’s Private Sector Engagement Support award with the United States Agency for International Development.