It doesn’t matter if a business is a distribution service or provides some other product or service. It doesn’t matter if the focus is business-to-business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C). If a company doesn’t already use Customer Relationship Management software they may want to give serious consideration to adding a CRM to their business’ toolkit.
CRM software helps organize and manage information about customers, share information easily between all the members of the team, track sales and customer service activities and set up processes and procedures for ongoing communications with customers. In its smallest, simplest form a CRM’s focus is to store and manage customer communications and data so that sales, marketing and customer service team members are all on the same page. This integration helps companies become more efficient and better able to meet the needs of customers while providing a better overall customer experience. Changes made in the system are made in real-time and can be seen immediately, and because all the data is stored in one central place, less time is wasted hunting down information. Improved productivity and faster responses to customers, it’s a win-win. The key is to remember that the CRM is only a tool to help better serve customers. It’s not about automating interactions with customers. Software can’t replace face to face meetings and phone conversations when it comes to building and maintaining long-term relationships with customers.
A CRM could be as simple as a basic contact management program. One step up from that is a system that provides contact management with a shared database. More advanced CRMs include additional enhanced features such as customer service functionality and sales/opportunity tracking to improve the management of sales pipeline. Some companies may also utilize their CRM systems for contact management beyond customers and also integrate contact management for vendors, professional service providers, strategic partners, networking contacts, competitors, government/regulatory contacts, etc. Some CRM packages include a complete range of calendar and task management/project planning capabilities. Some CRM software may also provide expanded marketing tools for direct mail and email marketing to existing customers and/or prospects in the database. Other CRM systems may provide expanded marketing capabilities through integration with additional third-party software systems.
Not that long ago, CRM systems were very expensive and only the largest companies could afford to invest the time and resources to implement them. Now a wide range of CRM solutions are available at various price points, putting a CRM within reach for most companies, no matter the size. Some CRM solutions are now Cloud based providing quick and easy startup and access on multiple hardware platforms from pc to tablets and smartphones. However with concerns about security, not every company is ready to upload all their vital customer data to the Cloud. Other CRM solutions house the software and data on a server managed in-house. These “on-premise” solutions give a high degree of control over data and the highest levels of security for that data, as well as customization possibilities but require IT resources to setup and maintain. A third option is software as a service (SaaS). SaaS CRM options may allow somewhat less control over data and in some cases lower security and less customization compared to “on-premise” alternatives, but typically require less in-house IT capabilities.
FW Warehousing currently uses Goldmine CRM in conjunction with IntelliClick for email/direct marketing. Before buying that shiny new CRM, make sure it has all the necessary functions. Companies must be committed to using it from the top of the organization down and commit the time and resources to thoroughly train the team on how to use it.
FW Warehousing is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with Midwest warehouse distribution centers in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana totaling more than four million square feet. Founded in 1949 with a focus on food-grade storage, FW later broadened its services to include general warehousing, dry storage, hazardous material and chemical storage, temperature-controlled storage and product distribution and fulfillment. FW Warehousing has more than 60 years of experience in third-party 3PL logistics and has been ranked in the top 100 Third Party Logistic companies in the country by Inbound Logistics magazine.
For more information about FW Warehousing distribution services, visit the Distribution Services page of the FW Warehousing website.