Home page > News > Releases > Bet on customer relationship

Bet on customer relationship

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Communicate, develop interests as well as loyalty and sell: determining activities for the company’s long-term viability. However these activities are often scattered or put in the background of numerous companies’strategy. Yet an optimized and controlled customer relationship turns out to be essential in the current economic context.

The obligation to adapt
The reduction in volume of orders and its consequences on the economic activity are worrisome issues which hit the headlines of economic news. They are often mentioned when it comes to explaining a restructuring plan or other cessation of activity. The song remains the same: the economic activity decreases, bookings become sparser, leading to a decrease in production and loss of jobs. As a result, it is the entire economic activity that is, little by little, affected.

A global solution relies on macroeconomic measures. Moreover its nature is international and the levers for a sustainable improvement are mainly political, though each company has to act in this context to protect itself and in the end, ensure sustainable growth. For this reason, the sales force of the company becomes a crucial stake for its future. It is necessary to be able to identify the company’s prospects, to make sure that we meet their needs, to develop their interest and secure their loyalty.

Rethink intelligently our sales strategy The sales are involved in a more complex process which enhances them and directs them. It is what we call “Customer Relationship Management” (CRM), namely a set of activities interconnected that we shall present according to the following continuum: marketing activities, sales activities, customer service activities. These actions are overlapping with the core business of the company and help it to evolve.

Good management of the customer relationship is indeed characterized by its adequacy to the company’s culture and business. It is a front window which should give a clear, coherent and transparent vision of the business and the internal expertise. An efficient and beneficial customer relationship builds itself through thoughtful competitive and strategic positioning.

The process of customer relationship suggests above all a work of self-positioning which consists in asking oneself several fundamental questions:
- What are the typical needs we can satisfy? How will these needs evolve?
- Who are the prospective customers with these needs?
- What are the added values with regard to our offer of service compared to those of our competitors?
- What is the specificity of our expertise?
This work will perhaps allow the company to redirect the offer of service; it will serve in any case as a solid basis to develop a targeted and successful commercial speech.

A philosophy which is not free from risks
At the beginning of this process, the first crucial point is the ability of the company to generate precise information as well as centralizing it so as to use it in a better way and to share it better between the different actors included in the process (salesmen, commercials, support, etc.). At that point, the company is able to have a precise view of its address book; it is also able of distinguishing its contacts according to their importance (prospect, contact, customer, privileged customer).

Thanks to these steps, it can build more detailed projections on the amount of customer oriented actions and proactively trigger relaunching and communication processes.

The customer relationship implemented goes well beyond the commercial side of it. It goes from customer service to making an offer, sales, the relaunching process and the analysis of results. The customer relationship has to be considered as a business in itself, or rather a set of interlinked businesses. These businesses require good profiles, adequate tools and efficient processes, in the same way as the core business does.

The long-term objectives are simple: secure the loyalty of the customer and maximize the sales with them. It will give the opportunity to limit prospection efforts, in a context where demand decreases and competition becomes rougher.

The customer relationship is not a new necessity born from the economic context but, however, it has become a stake charged with strategic importance. This specific stake requires particular attention and appropriate investments.

Our approach: a structured framework for SME’s sales
The main competence of Consultis relies on the optimization and the implementation of business processes. Given the report described above, we elaborated an optimized generic business process to manage the customer relationship based on a widened theoretical framework and our experience in the field. It means that one single and same process can be implemented in a homogeneous way and in various contexts of action. The structure of the process will not change but the way the activities are implemented can be adapted.

Thus our approach aims at deploying an optimized practice which allows an evolutionary management of the customers’ accounts, by integrating all the essential actions upstream (commercial actions) and downstream (customer service) with regard to the management of these accounts.

The process mentioned above is divided in several basic activities which are: 1) Marketing ; 2) Sales force; 3) Customer service; 4) Business intelligence (a transverse process consisting in the analysis and the management of strategic information)

In this view, vendors, account managers and people responsible for marketing can be guided whilst being assured that they are performing well, that their approach fits and that each action is planned, followed and recorded. The commercial manager or the sales director can at any moment be aware of the situation for each contact, each customer. Furthermore, they will have an estimate of potential orders’ value, an indispensable tool to manage commercial activity.

The originality of our approach consists in supplying the necessary elements of support too, more precisely the tool: an open source CRM software suitable for SME’s (simplicity of use, essential information, flexibility, network accessibility). At a time when control and immediate availability of information are crucial, it seems obvious to us to integrate the use of our tool in such a process.