May 21, 2015
Four Ways to Connect Your CRM with Your Customer and Web Experience

Most organizations use a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics or SugarCRM, to manage customers and the sales process. Your CRM stores a wealth of information about the customer or prospect and their needs, providing sales professionals with at-a-glance information that helps them sell your products and services.

But CRM data can be used for more than tracking customer sales information. It can be used to enhance customer experiences across a range of activities from personalized web experiences and lead generation all of the way to customer support.   So how can you leverage CRM data in your customer experiences? Let's take a look at four ways:

  1. Enhancing or maintaining customer profiles
  2. Managing leads
  3. Campaign personalization and delivery
  4. Customer self-service

CRM and CMS

Enhancing Customer Profiles

You very likely have a customer experience platform (CXM) like Ingeniux, Sitecore, or Adobe and a CRM. Both your CRM and CXM systems have customer profiles. They store a lot of same information, but also information relevant to the particular processes and experiences of each system. The challenge is having more than one customer profile can lead to disconnected experiences across your many customer interactions. Consider profile information updated in one system and not in another, or one system could store customer profile information that is useful to the other system. If you really want a complete 360 degree view of your customer, you want to connect this customer profile information.

You can do this in a couple of ways. First, you can build your profiles in your CXM and then connect to your CRM, pulling in customer profile data that enhances the information you have in your CXM customer profile. As profile information is updated in your CRM, it is imported into the CXM profile ensuring you always have the most updated information about the customer. This enables you to create very relevant personalized web experiences.

Let's look at it the other way now. All that customer profile data in your CXM, the data that captures your known customers' activity on your web properties, like the pages they visit, the content they download, the searches they conduct - all that information is also very useful to sales and support. So you want to get that information to sales and service professionals. You can do this by exporting the profile data to the CRM on a regular basis. Having a more complete view of the customer interactions with your company helps sales and service understand your customers needs and pain points.

Lead Management

You likely have a range of content assets and/or webinars and other events available on your website that require a visitor to register to get access to them. This process of getting a visitor to give their personal information in return for something, like a whitepaper, is called lead generation. 

Lead generation CMS

What do you do with this lead data once you get it? Integrate your marketing campaign registration forms with your CRM system and send the campaign information and associated lead data to the CRM where it is used by sales to manage leads.

CRM systems provide lead management capabilities such as lead scoring and routing that enable sales professionals to concentrate on the best leads for conversion. Connecting your campaign forms to your CRM ensures your customer/prospect profiles are always up to date and sales has the most recent information about what your customers and prospects are looking at (and downloading) from your website. 

Consider the visitor to your website that downloads the latest whitepaper. Their information is sent to the CRM and stored a lead. It's the first time the person has downloaded anything, so they are considered a basic lead. A couple of days later they come back and register for a webinar. This information is also sent to the CRM. Now the CRM knows that this particular visitor has been to the site at least twice and seems to be interested in your product/services. The lead is now scored higher (becoming a qualified lead) and sales know there is greater potential to convert this visitor into a customer (or if the visitor is already a customer, there is a greater opportunity to upsell or cross-sell to the customer).

Your CRM can track the entire marketing campaign across all your channels, showing the impact of your marketing on your sales pipeline.

Campaign Personalization and Delivery

Consumers are demanding personalized experiences when they visit your website and there are a number of different approaches to do this based on how much you know about the visitor.

If you know who they are, it's easy to personalize the experience by having them log into the site. By connecting your CRM to your website, you always have the most recent profile information about the visitor and can tailor the web experience based on what you know about them.   For example, on your website you have a special community area for individuals who have signed up for a loyalty card. For this first time visitor to your site (and for a visitor who hasn't logged into the community area) you'll show information about signing up for a loyalty card and what that means. If your loyalty cards are specific to certain geographic areas, you can personalize the offer based on the visitors' geolocation.

The visitor is interested and registers for a loyalty card. You send that information back to the CRM, where it can be connected to an existing customer (if they are a customer), or used by sales to convert the lead into a new customer. On the website, once the visitor logs in you no longer show the content related to the loyalty card sign up offer. Instead you display content such as getting the latest newsletter, or viewing a special deal in the visitor’s location.

If the person is an actual customer (and not just a loyalty card owner), you can pull information from the CRM that lets you customize the products/services content and ads you want to show the customer.

Customer Self Service

CRMs are often used for case management related to customer support and service. But giving customers direct access to your CRM for support issues can be an expensive proposition.

Often it's more common for companies to provide self-service support capabilities to customers through their websites, allowing the customer to find the information they need to resolve their problems quickly and directly, or connecting them with the right support people to resolve the issue.  

Case level integration between your CRM and website enables your customers to create support tickets that are then stored in the CRM. Although support people are working on cases and entering information in the CRM, customers are creating the tickets and getting their updates through the website support area (you may call it a portal, community, or something else).

Customer self-service on the website provides a great combination of self-service information and case management which can reduce your costs for support overall and lead to better customer experiences.

Closing Thoughts

We often think of the website as belonging to the marketing team. It's a way to build awareness for the brand and offer information on products and services. This is absolutely true. Your web experience is a critical component of your marketing strategy and you want to ensure the content you provide is tailored to the visitor as much as possible. Connecting to your CRM for lead generation and personalization are important approaches to tailoring the experience.

But your website is also used for much more than lead generation. Smart companies see the value in using their websites for communities. These communities may be focused on customer self-service support, or they can be a place where like-minded individuals come to share information topics related to your business. 

It's important to remember that marketing's role is no longer just about gaining customers. According to a recent Economist Intelligence Unit report, in the next 3-5 years, 75% of marketing executives believe marketing will be responsible for the entire customer experience. This means marketing's role is expanding across the company, becoming more accountable to the entire customer lifecycle (from awareness to the lead, to sales, support and retention services).

By integrating your CRM and customer experience platform you can seamlessly manage customer interactions over the entire customer lifecycle. And that's the key isn't it - managing the entire customer lifecycle.  

Posted by Barb Mosher Zinck
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