Customer relationship management tools represent items or processes a company implements to create a connection with consumers. These tools can be either standard internal departments or technology that collect customer data or feedback. Traditional customer relationship management tools include a customer service department, surveys, or outsourcing. Newer tools include websites and social media networks, among other technology. Companies can use multiple tools in order to saturate the market with customer relationship tools.
A customer service department is typically the front line in terms of customer outreach. This department has enough staff members to handle phone calls or other inquiries about the business and its products. The department synthesizes the gathered data for review by upper management. In most cases, this tool represents a reactive stance in terms of establishing a customer relationship. The business simply waits for customers to contact the business in order to react to issues.
Surveys and outsourcing are two related customer relationship management tools. A survey is typically a paper document companies send to customers. Several questions or other information on the survey seek information on the customers' thoughts on the business and its products. Outsourcing this process to a third party is common because the outsourcing company often has the tools and items necessary to gather information quickly and cheaply. These steps are typically a proactive stance in customer relationship management.
Technology adds a new wrinkle to customer relationship management tools. Companies can use a corporate website as both a proactive and reactive response for customer relationship management. The website allows a company to inform consumers on sales, changes, and other information relating to the business. The biggest issue, however, is the fact that companies must wait for customers to visit the website in order to take advantage of the information or feedback forms. Companies can use the website with some success if it is set up and managed properly.
Social media networks take technology — and the use of websites — to a whole new level for customer relationship management tools. These networks usually provide standard websites or tools that a company can use to inform or query consumers for information. Depending on the social media platform, a company can either send direct notes or e-mails in a proactive manner or simply advertise a link to its social media page. Either way, both methods provide a company new customer management tools to reach consumers. These tools are often additional to websites because social media may be a more frequent location for consumers to visit on the Internet.