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Using Your CRM as a
Business Intelligence

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Charlie Spaneas

Our decisions are only as good as the information we use to make them. Imagine making choices about your healthcare using blood pressure, cholesterol, and other measurements your doctor took five or more years ago. In the business world, the importance of tapping relevant and timely information is regarded with such importance that it has spawned the entire field of business intelligence.

These days, business intelligence involves the strategies and technologies required to capture and use data to decide everything from investments to product launches to operations. Simply put, business intelligence is the fuel company leaders rely on to direct their businesses in the most profitable way possible.

Data from a CRM can help improve your decision-making.

To be clear, a CRM is not a business intelligence tool. But the data that is collected and housed in a CRM can most certainly be used to make better decisions. In fact, in a guide outlining a step-by-step approach to successful business intelligence, Gartner highlights the importance of integrating data from CRM and ERP as a way to improve decision-making.

For smaller organizations, in particular, tapping data that is in a CRM to guide decisions can be a real competitive advantage. One example comes from the improved forecasting that regularly updated CRMs can provide to company leaders.

Companies that don’t have a CRM struggle to gauge the demand for their products and services, often relying on the best guesses of their sales team or historic data. By contrast, CRM data gives decision-makers forecasts based on actual numbers and concrete orders. This provides a level of certainty about customer demand that can inform much more precise decisions.

For example, manufacturers relying on hard data from their CRM will know the right volumes and types of raw materials required to quickly and fully supply the products their customers want. This translates into happier customers and helps companies improve their efficiency by reducing raw material waste and reducing backorders.

CRM data can keep you ahead of customer trends

Updated and accurate information from a CRM also helps companies better anticipate when customer demand is changing. Indeed, data from a CRM can highlight when a range of customers is no longer ordering or re-ordering your products.

This is the sort of information companies need to reach out to customers to ensure there are no problems and seek feedback about their future needs. When those conversations take place, it helps leaders make better decisions about inventory and potential investments in production capacity.

CRM data is also critical for better-serving customers. The right CRM will provide your sales and customer care staff visibility into your supply chain, including the actual delivery of products.

Visibility lets you know when there are potential problems, like a late delivery. All customers, but especially your most important ones, should know ahead of time if their expectations aren’t going to be met.

This CRM-provided data can help company leaders proactively make investments or take actions to ensure that their most important customers will remain happy.