As a business how many different systems do you use to manage your customer relationships?

Recently I was involved in a consulting opportunity with a company that used Microsoft Outlook for managing contacts; they had no concrete system to manage customer notes, interactions or any other pieces of vital information that can be used for targeted marketing initiatives. When I probed further, I found out that field agents capture notes using MS Word and all such documents are saved on individual machines at the user level – In other words, if John and Mary are dealing with the same customer, one doesn’t know what the other has been talking about.

Worse still, their financial system had no links with their already disparate contacts management system (what system!). Now, from my experience in the Small to Medium market this is not an isolated case – lack of appropriate systems to manage customer data is the beginning of digging yourself in a hole you cant get out very easily.

You see, if you don’t have the right kind of information about your customers there is no way you can make the right decisions about how to keep them and win more of them customers.

Marketing, by far, is the most important and also the most overlooked area in a business. Marketing is not just about winning new customers but also about keeping existing ones.

You may have heard this before – “It is almost 85% cheaper to generate more revenue from an existing customer than to acquire a brand new one” – I don’t know who said it, but it’s true. I have experienced this statistic in our business and many others like us – so this statement is very true. A man with experience will always win against the man with the argument – so please just accept it.

Now consider this – A poorly informed marketing department is incapable of launching the correct marketing campaigns to attract the right kind of customers. Lack of information about customers acquired by the efforts of the marketing team create a situation for the Operations team who have no idea how to manage this customer. With lack of customer service, you lose this customer to a competitor. As a result you are forced to compromise on your sales revenue in order to keep up with the competition. This has a deadly impact on your bottom line – which leads to the CEO having to make some rash decisions.

Do you see how this chain reaction started from just one thing – Lack of right information.

Now this is where integrated marketing comes into the mix. Integrated marketing is a fancy term for describing a marketing model that is driven by information shared within several departments of the business.

In other words – information gathered by the field agents during sales pitches, customer notes logged by the service and ops teams, financial and accounts information added by the billing team, and strategic decisions made by the executive team – all are used to carry out a marketing strategy.

However, the concept of integrated marketing goes beyond a mere audit trail of everything there is to know about a customer. Integrated marketing is about having the right information and being able to spot opportunities for marketing to your existing customers to increase revenue per customer; and then carrying it out using integrated systems such as email marketing, SMS marketing, social media marketing, blogging, search engine marketing and many other online marketing strategies. The final objective is to have an integrated system that is linked across departments to capture information and has a multi-purpose delivery model – email, sms, blog, social media etc.

Tell me something. If you had the choice of increasing dollars/customer/year compared to winning “X” new customers each year, which would you choose?

The best and only way to increase revenue per customer per year is to market to your existing customers before you go out looking for new ones. Remember the 85% quote above – I’m telling you it works.

Now imagine if you have the ability to look into a system and pull out all the transactions you have had with a customer, view all the products or services sold to this customer, you have enough notes to understand this customers’ business and needs, you also know the decision making trends in this company and best of all, because you are constantly communicating with this customer – you are on “top of their mind”. This is a marketer’s dream – To be at the top of the mind of customers.