In the past, I’ve been asked, “Could any industry or company benefit from a CRM?”
When I hear that question, a few more come to mind:
- “Could any company benefit from having all of their contacts’ information in one database?”
- “Could any company benefit from tracking their leads more coherently?”
- “Could any company benefit from a clearly defined sales funnel?”
- “Could any company benefit from automating repetitive-yet-necessary tasks?”
Since the answer to all of those questions is, of course, a resounding “yes,” I think it’s safe to say that any company could benefit from a CRM.
So, if you’re in the utilities or energy industry, wondering whether your company can truly benefit from a CRM, here’s my answer: “Without a doubt, yes!”
Your first step, then, is to find the best CRM for your company. You can do this by identifying exactly why you want to use a CRM, and then confirming that a specific CRM solution can actually help you accomplish those goals.
To help you out, we’ve taken a look at four common challenges faced by utility companies—we’ll discuss below exactly how the right CRM can help overcome them.
4 Things To Look For In A CRM For Utilities Companies
1. Monitoring Inventory & Expenses
Product and service demand is uneven and unpredictable. So staying on top of your inventory and your expenses can be challenging, especially since you probably have to consult, at the very least, two or three different programs to see where you stand. Well, how would you like to go from looking at all of those different programs to just one?
Let’s be real—a CRM is not an inventory system, and it’s not an accounting system. But, you can use a CRM to help you monitor inventory and expenses. To do that, you need a CRM that is either highly customizable or a CRM that has an open application programming interface (API).
A highly customizable CRM gives you the ability to add all kinds of extra fields that are necessary to your company and the ability to make reports based on those fields. This would give you one place to store and access all your data and organize it in a coherent way.
To put it simply, an API is the way two different computer applications “talk to each other.” An open API lets you create your own code using industry standard methods to update a record, query the database, or delete a record in another application.
A CRM with an open API will allow you to connect your CRM to your inventory system, accounting system, and any number of other systems you use in your industry or company. In a sense, you build a network of applications, allowing them to “talk” to each other. So, when an update is made in the CRM, it will feed relevant information to the appropriate applications. Then, you can send alerts notifying managers about inventory needs, expense benchmarks, etc.
2. Supervising Managers, Drivers, & Sales Staff Members
Your sales representatives and managers need to be motivated and able to manage their schedules without someone’s supervision. And you need to know you can trust your sales team and drivers when they are out on the road. (You know—that they actually go where they say they’re going.)
Essentially, you want to be able to track your team’s activities and make reports from them. To do that, you need a CRM that is incredibly easy to use in the office and on the road, so your team will do just that—use it!
Without accurately tracking team member activities:
- You can’t get an accurate picture of what the people in your company are doing on a daily basis.
- You can’t determine where your team members are succeeding or where they could be more efficient.
- It’s impossible to see which team members need coaching/improving.
With a CRM, it’s simple for sales staff to update a contact’s record if they have a phone call with them, schedule a usage analysis, sign a new client, address a customer complaint or difficulty, etc. And, since your drivers and some of your sales team are out on the road on a daily basis, you need a CRM that is accessible via mobile phone or tablet. (Some CRMs do not have a mobile app. Be sure to look into this when you’re selecting one!) This way, a driver can access the CRM through their mobile phone, and instantly update a contact’s record when an installation has been completed, an issue has been resolved, etc. A salesperson can instantly add notes from a meeting, schedule an email to be sent to a lead or client, or indicate that a deal has been closed.
If your team can’t easily add their activities into the CRM on the field, they will most likely choose not to use it.
3. Analyzing Customer Needs & Satisfaction
In order to establish and maintain relationships with key customers and business partners, you need a simple way to stay aware of their needs and level of satisfaction, and a simple way to communicate with them.
One great thing about a customizable CRM is that you can create notifications for specific things. For example, if you want to be notified every time one of your accounts submits a need for assistance, you can create a notification for it. Or, let’s say you want to actually talk with your key clients and partners on a regular basis to make sure they are satisfied with your service. You can assign yourself a repeating task to call a client every two, four, or six months—whatever you choose—and have the CRM remind you of those calls when the time comes.
Another way to track customer needs and satisfaction is to create custom fields for those things. Now, you’re obviously not going to give your customers access to your CRM to mark an appropriate field of service satisfaction and indicate whether all their needs were met. But, you can do any of the following:
- Have the customer fill out a survey on your website.
- Have a service technician give the customer a survey to complete.
- Have a service technician answer survey questions based on their impression of the customer’s satisfaction.
Personally, I think the best option is to have the customer complete a survey on your website. This makes the process as seamless and as accurate as possible, because:
- The customer gives their own answers, as opposed to a serviceman giving his or her impression of the customer’s satisfaction.
- The customer’s responses are stored online and cannot be lost among other paperwork or made unreadable by spills or tears.
- The customer can be completely honest about their experience (since they submit their answers online and not to the person who actually completed a service for them).
Great CRMs have landing page integrations, meaning you can put your survey form on a landing page on your website and the CRM automatically updates the customer’s record with their responses. The best CRMs allow you to create reports about those surveys (with the ability to pull specific responses or data from specific dates or periods of time).
4. Analyzing Competitor Activity
Because of the internet, consumers now have access to all kinds information, including information about your company and your competitors. In order to grow your clientele and ensure you’re maintaining the loyalty of your customers, it’s critical to stay on top of what your competitors are doing. While a CRM doesn’t have tools to show you the actual activities of your competitors, it can help you analyze competitor trends.
For example, internally, we have tags within our CRM that we mark contact records with if we’ve lost a deal to a competitor or if we’ve gained a client that has moved to our company from one of our competitors.
Having this information allows us to look at our own processes and determine what we need to do better, and also determine what we are doing well that is attracting new customers so we can continue to do well and improve.
A Worthwhile Investment
The right CRM for your company will make work easier for your team members, but will come with an investment from you. However, when you consider the return on investment you’ll receive from simplifying things for your team, it will make the initial investment worth every single penny.
We’d be privileged to show you a CRM that can do everything mentioned above and more. Try Leads 365 for free and see what it can do for your business.