The Distribution Blog

6 Ways a Good CRM Improves the Customer Experience

February 24, 2023

Table of Contents

Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to do business with a company that has its act together?

Chances are, they’re using a top-notch customer relationship management (CRM) system. But here’s the thing: Many companies treat their CRM as just an internal tool without realizing that it can greatly impact their customers.

Trust us; it’s not just about making the company’s life easier — it’s about improving the customer’s experience too.

The Case for Good Customer Experience 

When your business provides a positive experience, your customers aren’t the only ones who reap the benefits. In addition to being able to charge higher prices for a better experience, you’ll also be fostering customer loyalty and increasing your wallet share.

Below, learn about six ways a robust CRM helps distributors like you provide excellent customer experiences that benefit both the buyer and you. 

1. Improved Communication 

Customer information shouldn’t be retained in your employees’ memory or notes; it should be logged in a CRM for all to see. That way, it won’t matter who a customer talks to — customer service, inside sales, outside sales, or another team member — because everyone has access to the same customer information and purchase history.

When you utilize your CRM to its fullest extent, your buyers will be able to hear “let me pull up your file” instead of “let me ask someone from my team and get back to you.” This makes it so they don’t feel like they’re starting over whenever they have a new conversation. Instead, customers get to experience seamless interactions.

Ubiquitous access to customer data also makes for more helpful, knowledgeable sales reps and strengthens your team. When reps record customer and conversation details in your CRM, other team members can see this information and help identify additional sales opportunities.  

2. Faster Time to Resolution 

For distributors with product catalogs containing thousands or even millions of products, issues are bound to arise as items make their way from your warehouse to the customer. This is especially true given the supply chain challenges plaguing businesses post-pandemic.

These issues could be related to: 

  • Mistakes or errors with the product itself
  • Shipping problems
  • The sudden need for a substitute product or a different quantity of the product 

Reps can more readily resolve these issues when they have all relevant information at their fingertips without the need to ask someone else or search deep within your legacy system. It shouldn’t take digging through product catalogs and asking colleagues for help to find a product substitute in cases of stockouts or backorders.

Of course, this comprehensive product data will only supplement the rich customer data found in a well-managed distribution CRM.

With this extensive and diverse information, reps can easily navigate to find the information they need to answer customer queries with speed and efficiency. Sales and customer service reps can simply pick up where the last conversation left off and work the inquiry without jumping through hoops.

Ultimately, when your team can provide efficient problem resolution with minimal roadblocks, the more customers will be willing to spend on your products and favor you over the competition. 

3. Personalized Experiences 

One of the top CRM frustrations for distribution leaders is the lack of — or poor — integration with their company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The data stored in your ERP is gold. But it takes properly integrating it with a distribution-specific CRM to properly mine for sales insights — untapped opportunities that can drive your business forward.

When your systems aren’t connected, as with many legacy CRMs, you aren’t getting a holistic picture of individual customers. However, when your tools are tightly integrated, reps get a 360° view of buyers that allows them to engage them with more personalized experiences.

Imagine the time a sales rep can save by being able to access all of this information in a single place:

  • Order history
  • Browsing activity
  • Open quotes
  • How other teams are engaging with them
  • Products they should be buying or reordering

Gleaned from the customer data in your CRM, the ability to offer personalized experiences helps customers feel known and taken care of, avoid seeing or hearing irrelevant information, and have their needs consistently anticipated. The type of personalization we’re referring to includes letting customers know when they’re about to run out of a product they reorder frequently, suggesting a substitute that’s less expensive for them (and has higher margins for you!), or following up about a product they browsed online but didn’t purchase.

And you thought CRM was just for managing customer relationships! 

4. Seamless Process 

Here’s what happens when distributors choose a CRM that makes data entry arduous:

  • The CRM isn’t used
  • Important company knowledge is stored in sales reps’ heads
  • When a rep retires or quits, all their knowledge walks out the door with them  

Legacy CRMs and systems that aren’t integrated tend to require arduous manual data entry. Reps have to jump through hoops to get the customer, supplier or product information they need. As a result, they can’t be as efficient and may even skip steps to cut corners.

When reps view the CRM as administrative rather than a tool to provide excellent customer experiences and grow sales, they may miss opportunities and make mistakes due to the lack of shared information.

On the other hand, an integrated CRM wrangles all necessary customer information for the sales rep, removing the tedious data entry work and the risks of lost opportunities and errors. In other words, don’t underestimate the value of a CRM that automates as much data entry as possible.

Not only does this automation make for a seamless workflow, but it also reduces errors, prevents opportunities from slipping through the cracks and, of course, grants reps the extra time and energy to focus on the customer experience. 

5. Proactive Outreach 

Even if you stack your team with talented, experienced sales reps, without the help of an agile CRM, your reps may not have the insight they need to identify new sales opportunities among current customers.

A CRM designed specifically for distributors allows reps to anticipate customer needs based on data and suggestions made by the system. A CRM that facilitates proactive outreach is especially useful if:

  • The system detects a risk of customer churn
  • A customer is due to reorder a product but hasn’t yet placed an order
  • A customer is underspending in another relevant category
  • There are wallet-share gaps, as it can identify products that similar customers typically purchase

To sum it up, a smart distribution CRM will consistently provide your team with additional relevant product suggestions to spark up meaningful, personalized conversations that lead to revenue. The best systems will even give reps suggestions on what to say — not just what to sell.

This extreme benefit to your team will only enhance the customer experience, as customers will leave their interactions with your reps feeling seen and understood. 

6. Faster Rep Ramp Time 

With a large percentage of the salesforce retiring within the next few years and new reps being hired to replace them, distributors should be thinking long and hard about whether or not their existing tools make it easier to be productive.

Again, this is where a good CRM can be a critical part of your success. When your system is full of rich customer and product information, is easy to navigate, and is intuitive to use, getting new reps up to speed on business operations and their accounts is easy. As a result, they become consultative salespeople without years of training.

Start Creating Great Customer Experiences with the Right CRM 

To reiterate: Your CRM isn’t just about internal processes — although a distribution-focused system is way more intuitive, actionable and enjoyable to use for your sales reps.

On the other hand, when your CRM platform helps foster personalized conversations, proactive outreach and efficient problem resolution, customers will notice your speed, attention and helpfulness. In turn, customers will associate your organization with positive experiences, leading to strengthened relationships, repeat sales and more revenue.

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