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www.psi-network.de PSI Journal 7/2016 CRM or Customer Relationship Management is often referred to as customer care or customer retention. Thus not only is the term shortened, but also its meaning. CRM is meant to do more than to simply focus on maintaining “loyal” existing customers. It has to because simply focussing on the existing customer base is by no means sufficient. The acquisition of new customers and regaining lost customers also deserve special attention. Maintaining existing customers, gaining new customers and regaining lost customers – CRM means nothing less. This means that in its implementation, the entire corporate structure must be addressed and organized from a customer relationship management perspective. Market analysis, corporate strategy and planning, internal and external communication, marketing and sales, consultation and interaction, service and customer care and aftersales: All business processes are part of a functioning CRM and should therefore be connected to the system. CRM AS A RESPONSE TO ECONOMIC CHANGE CRM is the necessary response to the radical changes in the economy since the 1990s, which not only the promotional products industry still has difficulties to come to terms with. It has long been very closely linked to the development of the Internet as a communication and additional sales platform. CRM has thus also become a symbol of the paradigm shift of the economy: away from the productoriented dogma of the industrial age to a customer-centric corporate identity of the communication age. But this is precisely the painful pressure spot of the overwhelming part of the promotional products trade, which is part of a product-driven industry and is facing the task of implementing the step from the product age to the age of communication and last but not least to the age of transparency. Within seconds, computers and mobile phones know where products can be purchased. This is where most promotional products distributors still have to make up a lot of ground. For many, the supposed source protection still belongs to the basic definition of their business. However, this has long been eliminated by the Internet. It is thus high time for a new direction without fear or reservations. The promotional products industry has already developed the essential conditions for a qualified connection to the modern economic scenario. What is missing is a new self-confidence and understanding of new tools, in short, a repositioning. ECONOMIC VALUE OF THE CUSTOMER IS MEASURABLE It is no longer just the product which is viewed as important (this is only applies to a limited extent in the promotional products industry). More importantly the customer is involved in added value. He has a measurable economic value, depending on whether he is an existing customer, a potential new customer or a former customer who can be recovered. In economic systems that have evolved through the digitisation of information and processes into complex high-speed arenas, an efficient customer management system is among the top priorities of every company, regardless of its size, its products or its industry. This also applies fully to companies in the promotional products industry. As a rule, it is only a matter of time before small and medium-sized enterprises as well as start-ups have to deal with CRM systems. The aim is to collect customer data efficiently. This includes an analysis of customer behaviour, especially on interfaces that have not yet been recognized. For the promotional products industry, these include of course his online stores and user behaviour with a view to his online presence. The sooner the CRM is successfully initiated, the more dynamic are the chances of success in the market through inevitable sales optimisation. FAR MORE THAN THE MERE ADMINISTRATION Basically, a CRM system goes far beyond the capabilities of mere customer management. Beyond this, a company’s own em- ployees, suppliers and service providers can and should be incorporated. Of course, a CRM system must first be set up. Then, however, all client proposals and responses, all contacts, all questions asked and service requirements, any special conditions for each customer are on the screen at the press of a button. Data profiles and linking profiles enable continuous customer care, completion efficiency, cost optimisation. In addition, an operational earlywarning system and a trend barometer are created. All customer contacts, including those automated by CRM, are always personal, relevant and up-to-date. The newly generated customer profile enables a thematically precise response with the right products at the right time. This in turn opens up promising perspectives for pre-sales activities, cross-selling and after-sales management. ENORMOUS LONG-TERM CORPORATE BENEFITS A CRM system is not an automatic process and does not work by itself. A certain lead time should be factored in. As a rule of thumb, about three months applies for small and medium-sized businesses. Then, however, the initial time investment brings enormous benefits to the company. What is important is the realisation that a CRM software is an essential component of successful customer relationship management, but cannot be positioned alone. CRM systems are precision tools for customer relationship management. They assist trained employees to convince (potential) customers of the benefits and the service profile, to inspire them and to give them the feeling of being understood and being in good hands. In such a business relationship, the price issue is no longer in the foreground. PROPER CRM SOFTWARE IS CRITICAL The market for CRM applications has become unclear. New providers of CRM application are constantly entering the market. The range starts with basic packages for operational process control in sales and marketing. Such solutions are likely to be perfectly adequate for the majority of promotional product distributors. Oversized 9

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