As post-recession productivity continues to suffer, businesses turn to CRM technology to boost output

By Mike Richardson

Research commissioned by Maximizer Software found that productivity in the United Kingdom and Europe continues to languish in a stagnant economy, with Eurostat figures showing that worker output rates have yet to recover five years after the peak of the recession – a situation unheard of in the aftermath of previous downturns. In the UK, Office for National Statistics showed that productivity in late 2012 was still 3.7% below its pre-downturn peak.

A major stumbling block to solving this problem is determining and then addressing the underlying causes. One of the main factors that some economists have highlighted is companies holding onto labour. One of the reasons for this ‘labour hoarding’ is that companies are keen to hold onto experienced staff to see them through the tough times and are reluctant to incur the costs associated with making redundancies and then recruiting new staff when conditions improve.

The research indicates that many businesses, in fact, have even been taking on new sales, marketing and customer service staff in order to retain existing clients, as well as move into new markets and broaden their geographical reach. These are customer-facing areas where efficiency can quickly be improved at a relatively low cost by applying or upgrading CRM technology. Research from AMI Partners in 2007 showed that companies with CRM systems have generated 140% higher revenues per employee than those without.

The main benefits the CRM systems provide – the immediate access to customer data, the streamlining of operations and the comprehensive view of the business for management – is critical for companies aiming to raise productivity and, in turn, profitability. In addition to generating comprehensive customer data, automating of administrative tasks and facilitating business reporting, many CRM systems now incorporate more advanced technical features, including mobile and social media functionality.

CRM in general, and the spread of mobile technology in particular, has allowed sales teams to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time on selling as they can update information and tap into up-to-date data easily and on the go. Research from the Yankee Group revealed that salespeople spend 74% of their time on non-revenue generating activities, including 26% on administrative tasks. Having a proper CRM system in place – especially one that can be accessed remotely – means sales reps can access real-time information wherever they are, allowing them to prep for last-minute meetings and answer any customer queries almost immediately.

For most businesses, existing customers are their most valuable asset and keeping them happy is crucial. CRM systems address customer service efficiency by making it easy for service representatives to view all of the information relating to a particular customer. This enables them to address issues more effectively, thus fostering loyalty and customer satisfaction. Another key feature that increases productivity is sending automating email updates to customers. Regular contact increases loyalty and systemising certain communications means there is one less job for the customer service team, allowing them to focus on more hands-on tasks.

Marketing, which can suffer when budgets are tight, is yet another area in which productivity can be bolstered by CRM. The result is improved segmentation and the generation of automated emails – messages triggered by purchases, seasonal offers, renewal notices and events – both of which can enhance cross-selling and up-selling efforts. A CRM platform also allows marketing departments to monitor campaigns and measure their effectiveness – with the resulting fine-tuning improving return on investment.

Governments may ponder what they can do to address the productivity slump, but many companies are actually taking matters into their own hands by employing a CRM system to give them a competitive edge. By cutting out inefficiencies, businesses can focus their attention on building and maintaining good relationships with existing customers and finding new ones – whilst enabling employees to work more effectively.

About the author

Mike Richardson is Managing Director – EMEA of leading CRM solution firm Maximizer Software and works out of the United Kingdom. Mike joined Maximizer in 2000 when he created and headed the Professional Services Team. From this solid grounding, he progressed through a number of senior roles, including Operations Manager and European Sales before becoming Managing Director in June 2009. Prior to joining Maximizer, Mike had a diverse career spanning the oil and gas exploration industry, the security sector, and business and IT consultancy for SMEs.

About Maximizer Software

Since 1987, Maximizer Software has delivered Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and professional services meeting the needs, budgets and access requirements of entrepreneurs, small and medium businesses and larger corporations. Simple, configurable and affordable, Maximizer CRM enables organizations in all industries and markets to increase sales, enhance marketing, and improve customer service while boosting productivity and revenues. Headquartered in Canada, with worldwide offices and business partners, Maximizer Software has sold over one million licenses to more than 120,000 customers.

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