Most organizations have in place a “CRM” or Customer Relationship Management system. A CRM solution is used to track customer information, customer documents, relationships, and potential deals. However, when organizations implement these systems, they often neglect a key issue – how to manage and organize the actual customer documents that flow through a CRM system – the raw material that actual creates value.
Effective Customer Information Management begins with sound document and content management practices. A document management strategy is the critical first step to effectively managing customer documents and ultimately, improving customer satisfaction and increasing customer value.
6 reason why effective management of customer information needs a robust document management infrastructure:
- Much of the most powerful information about customers is locked up in unmanaged documents that are scattered about the organization. The data about a customer is usually well-managed, but can only tell you so much. Real insights come from all of those customer documents – application files, PDFs, images, and emails, for example – that provide the context for all of that data.
- The sheer volume – and variety -- of information available about customers is increasing by the day. Information is growing by a factor of 10 every two years. If you don’t start to build a strategy to manage this growth now, when will you?
- Customers have more avenues into organizations – email, FAX, Twitter, Facebook, phone, web – than ever before. Customers grow quickly frustrated when their information is scattered across multiple, disconnected systems. Think about the last time you called a company with whom you have done business for years, and were asked over and over again for the same information.
- As a result of all of these multi-channel inputs, customers are more directly exposed to back-end business processes (like finance and sales and marketing) than ever before. It used to be that we could keep the messiness of our back-end processes out of view from customers. As more and more customers choose to do business with you directly and on mobile devices, those back-end processes are exposed.
- The stakes of mismanaging customer information – whether through breaches or privacy violations – are growing daily. Every day there is word on a new privacy or security breach. Unmanaged and disorganized documents represent a huge source of potential embarrassment for companies. In addition, more and more governments are entering into the fray with new regulations about customer information. Trying to deal with these new – and often conflicting requirements – is a losing proposition.
- When systems fail, customers have more powerful avenues to communicate frustration than ever before. Customer expectations are now defined by their best experiences on-line and on mobile devices. Companies that fall short are only one viral Tweet or Facebook post away from ridicule and an erosion of confidence that can have a direct bottom line impact.
Organizations increasingly rely on SaaS (Software as a Service) CRM solutions (like Salesforce) and point solutions (like Microsoft Dynamics) to manage customer relationships. For many organizations, this means that the customer documents associated with key relationships winds up locked up in a content silo within the application, unavailable outside of the application.
This is important because looking at the complete journey of a customer – from origination to sale to fulfillment – requires that key customer information be available across processes. This means that important documents and content needs to be findable and available to these processes, and managed in a coordinated and structured way.
This task of managing, organizing, protecting and utilizing customer information won’t be solved by simply installing a Customer Relationship Management system. You need to pay attention to the customer information that flows through that CRM system. And that means you need a document management system as part of your CRM – and this solution needs to be easy to implement, integrate, and use.