They say, in business, that ‘the customer is king.’ While that may sound a little hyperbolic, there is a very good reason for this to be adopted as the mantra of your own enterprise. It’s not that the ‘customer is always right,’ it’s that your Customer Relations must be a priority for your business in order to ensure commercial success. By valuing the customer above all others, your business is prompted to focus all efforts on meeting their needs and ensuring the positive view they have of their experience with your organization.
Customer Relations are a broad area of your business, encompassing everything your team does within the context of interacting with both existing and potential clients. That includes the strategies you deploy, the activities you undertake, and, perhaps most crucially, the technology you use. In today’s business world, technology is increasingly important in all areas, but with Customer Relations being such an overriding consideration in terms of growth and progress, the software you use is a vital component of your success.
Where your Contracts System and your Customer Relations intersect
Contracts and agreements are a significant part of your interactions with clients – from the very first call, to the closure of a sale. It starts with your employment contracts because it matters who you task with the important role of sales and customer liaison, as well as the people you employ for your legal department. It continues through the anticipation of customer need because even when a sale has been secured, there is always the potential for further lead generation. It ends with the way in which your current client knowledge can help you with future targeting of marketing and sales focus because effective data analysis is the key to commercial growth. This is why your Contract Management System should be considered an integral part of your Customer Relations processes.
In the daily operation of your business, making Contract Management the heart of your Customer Relations provides you with that all-important competitive edge, by creating a platform for both reactive and proactive functions, based on the collation of actionable data.
- Reactive functions – These are your problem resolution efforts in Customer Relations. The role of Contract Management here is to deliver actionable data in response to issues raised by current clients, as well as creating a forum in which the detail of the resolution itself can be codified.
- Pro-active functions – These are the opportunities to meet the evolving needs of clients. The role of Contract Management here is to deliver actionable data that provides a detailed view of customer behavior and market trends, allowing your business to anticipate needs.
Achieving efficiency in reactive and pro-active functions within Customer Relations is the foundation upon which productive client relationships are built and maintained. The inspiration of loyalty and trust inevitably leads to high levels of customer retention, but it is important to understand that truly effective Customer Relations creates a partnership that is mutually beneficial in the long term. It is not simply a case of engaging customers over an extended period of time. Your business must work with each client to create a flow of productivity that is evenly distributed and balanced, and data is the best tool for the job.
Harnessing the power of data
Any business operating within any industry accumulates a massive amount of data with regard to both contracts and Customer Relations. The very best Contract Management Software features highly customizable reporting functions to deliver detailed data analysis about your clients on every level – from granular to a general overview. These reporting functions allow you to truly harness the power of your data.
- Tracking – Accurate tracking of the data involved in your customer relationships and interactions allows you to monitor the different stages and details of deals and sales. This creates a pro-active process that decreases the instances of lost or missed sales, with the resulting increased success rate leading directly to increased revenue. These gains are further enhanced by increased efficiency resulting in shorter project timescales, shorter lead times, and lower overhead costs.
- Analysis – By undertaking a detailed analysis of client data, you can form predictions about client behavior and market trends, based on past interactions, dealings, and contract outcomes. Learning about the needs and requirements of your clients, particularly with regard to purchasing trends and budgetary fluctuations, helps you anticipate their needs – ensuring your pro-active approach, and improving their customer experience.
- Automation – Employing the automated features of Contract Management Software allows you to process detailed client data more efficiently, with less human error. Costs are therefore reduced because you are able to better deploy your staffing resources while spending less on rectifying and following up on mistakes.
- Review – Automated, detailed reporting of your client data enables you to keep Customer Relations under regular review. This allows for the continued assessment of client behavior and needs – facilitating both reactive and pro-active responses.
There is a very valuable, additional benefit to harnessing your client data, and that is the generation of sales leads. When the critical analysis is applied to your customer information and contract histories, it should be undertaken with the aim of creating a more strategic, highly targeted approach. This makes every client interaction and every contract an opportunity to further refine sales processes, and to further tailor services to meet customer needs. Through this methodical enhancement of Customer Relations, the expansion and growth of your business can be achieved in a steady, manageable, and sustainable way.
In our ever-shifting economic climate, the scalability of sales processes is a prerequisite for commercial sustainability. This means that your sales teams and processes should incorporate enough flexibility to be able to adapt to changing economic circumstances. Scalable sales is the most effective way to insulate your revenue stream from the stresses of global market fluctuations as well as internal shifts, such as staff turnover. Your client data can help you unlock scalable sales, within the context of your Customer Relations.
By harnessing your client information through accurate, customized Contracts System reporting, and by refining your sales approaches in response to those findings, you can tailor your operation to take the necessary, more flexible path. More efficient strategies and activities within your Customer Relations means you are able to deploy your resources in a targeted way – reducing costs, and ensuring your enterprise is lean, adaptable, and better able to make those reactive and pro-active responses that your customers expect.
It is by meeting and exceeding these customer expectations that your business achieves a competitive edge. In a crowded market that offers services and products of similar value at similar prices, it can be the customer experience that determines whether a sale is lost or won. The insight you can gain from analyzing client and market data can provide just the level of tailoring to your customer interactions that your client is looking for.
Looking ahead on a two-way street
Any client on the verge of entering an agreement with a supplier will be swayed by forward-thinking policies, and the embracing of technological advancements. Those businesses that operate on the cutting edge, and take full advantage of improvements in software systems will always lead the field. This, coupled with an approach that sees Customer Relations as a two-way street, will make all the difference to your sales margin.
While the focus in your own enterprise is the effective management of your Contracts System and Customer Relations, it is important to remember that your client has those same things to manage. Their agreements and relationship with you will also be one of many, so it is imperative to remain mindful of this and make your business as easy to deal with as possible. Using technology that is forward-thinking and fit for purpose is the clearest way to send that signal, and close those sales.
The right Contract Management Software will streamline your customer interactions, minimizing the time invested on the part of both parties, and therefore reducing the resources required by each. This creates the foundation of the mutually beneficial client relationship, and the fact that it is due to your own investment in an effective technological solution is a win for your business. These time-saving, efficiency-increasing Contract Management Software features should include:
- Contracts created by configurable templates, with standard and alternate language and terms included.
- Centralized corporate standards and governance.
- Automated routing and approval processes.
- Secure, browser-based access to documentation for authorized users, with encrypted data transfer.
- Support for multiple languages, locations, and currencies.
- Electronic signatures.
Most importantly, accurate, customizable reporting should be a core feature. With optimal use, this will ensure that deadlines and milestones are never missed, and your client’s experience of collaborating with your business is improved as a result.
Integration of Contract Management and Customer Relations processes
From the perspective of your business, the full and seamless integration of your Contract Management and Customer Relations processes should be the ultimate goal. This achievement leads to a highly streamlined operation in which the closeness of these key business areas is not only acknowledged but is harnessed for the benefit of all parties.
At the most basic level, a lack of integration causes unnecessary duplication. When Contract Management and Customer Relations are functioning as separate entities within one business, many components of data will need to be added to both systems. This consumes time and resources that would be better used elsewhere, as well as increasing the risk of error or mismanagement. This duplication of effort and documentation can also cause confusion at the point of signing on the dotted line. Moreover, such a segmented approach can constitute a failure in terms of compliance and governance requirements.
The synchronization that results from the process of system integration means your team can boost productivity through increased vigilance. Errors and mistakes are more easily avoided, meaning that risk, across the board, is reduced. Resources are more efficiently deployed, leading to shorter project timescales, and increased revenue. Your sales teams and their legal department colleagues are able to work together in a more cohesive fashion, creating, accessing, and editing the necessary files in a centralized location, through secure, instant access. Most importantly, the trust and loyalty in your client relationships is bolstered, creating opportunities for further collaboration, ensuring onward contract renewals, and generating additional sales leads.
Boosting your brand
With so many variables and uncertainties in the world of business today, it is incumbent upon organizations of all types, sizes, and industries to take the necessary steps to ensure consistency and sustainability. Making Contract Management the heart of your Customer Relations processes is a key part of creating your own strong ethos, as a significant part of your brand.
In making the choice to incorporate streamlined Customer Relations as a core part of your brand image, you not only boost your relationships with your existing client base but also provide a solid foundation for both the approach of new, targeted clients, as well as the attraction of inquiries from those that are possibly outside your current area of focus.
This is because, given the choice, it makes much more sense in commercial terms to work with a supplier that values improved customer experience, and which works to provide the same. By engaging your clients – those both old and new - with an integrated Contract Management and Customer Relations system, your business is able to do so in a way that encourages accurate data analysis, and structured, forward-thinking.
Symfact Contract Management Software provides full integration with your existing systems, including your Customer Relations processes. With a focus on reporting and accurate data analysis, this software can increase revenue through higher rates of sales agreements combined with lower operating costs. The high level of customization features also means that this software system can be a significant boost to your brand-enhancing a reassuring, client-focused ethos by making Contract Management the heart of your Customer Relations.