Virtual collaboration, the majority of employees working from home, digitization of the working world – what would have sounded like the New Work dream in 2019, this year presented many companies with major challenges overnight due to the Corona crisis.
And not only everyday office life has changed: Consumer behavior is changing. Sales, marketing and service have to adapt. Digitization, customer data and a well-functioning CRM are more important than ever.
What is digitization?
Basically, digitization means the conversion of analogue data or information into digital formats, or the transfer of tasks that were previously performed by humans to machines or computers.
The term has changed in the last 10 years and often refers to the introduction of digital technologies in companies, or in business, politics and society.
The Corona crisis is considered a driver of the digitalization of the working world. In fact, the crisis showed that digitization pioneers and professionals remained able to act, while other companies first had to delve deeper into the topic and find new solutions.
How digitized are German companies?
In the 2020 CRM study by BÖCKER ZIEMEN and ADITO, four groups are identified in terms of their digitization progress:
Companies that have largely implemented and completed digitization strategies. Digitization and automation of business processes and other activities are part of everyday business.
Companies that have already thought about their own strategies and started to implement them. A certain degree of automation and digitization is present, although not all business activities benefit from it.
Strategies were considered and, in some cases, implementation started. The company is in the start-up phase or has not yet started.
Companies that show little progress in terms of digitization. Digitization strategies have not yet been started or considered. The uniform storage of digital data is not anchored in the company. There are still many data silos and electronic data such as customer information, orders and service requests are stored decentrally.
According to the survey, all companies are equally aware of the importance of digitization projects, regardless of whether they are aimed at business customers or private customers.
Corona as a driver of the digitization of the working world
Almost every second medium-sized company had to digitally adapt business models, products and services at short notice due to Corona. (Telekom Digitization Index 2020)
The biggest challenges that companies face when digitizing the world of work are:
- Find solutions for virtual collaboration and ensure consistent productivity.
- To maintain the customer relationship and satisfaction even with exclusively digital touchpoints.
- Create digital business models.
What solutions are there for digitizing the world of work?
CRM systems are considered the most important software tool for the implementation of digitization projects. This is also shown by the CRM study 2020 mentioned above. 31 percent of the companies surveyed use CRM systems to carry out digital projects, such as the development of new products, the digital refinement of existing products, the improvement of marketing and sales processes and the use of digital channels in the to establish customer contact.
A CRM system creates the conditions for a quick and efficient implementation of digitization projects throughout the company.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are used by an average of 25 percent of companies. Here, resources such as capital, personnel and equipment can be planned as needed.
Document management systems also only play an average role. Around 20 percent of the companies surveyed use this type of solution when implementing the digitization of the working world. This allows electronic documents of any kind to be managed with database support.
Like many other digitization measures, home office options in Germany were only hesitantly introduced by many companies before the Corona pandemic. It was (and is) a major challenge for these companies to create conditions for their employees overnight in order to maintain work processes.
In many companies, the right technology first had to be procured or implemented correctly. And that’s not the end of it:
How does virtual and digital collaboration work?
1. Edit documents together
Send documents back and forth by email? This means that you end up with a wide variety of file versions on the computers of different employees. Better create a central location for all documents and store and edit them via a central CRM system.
2. Manage customer data
Excel lists and data that are only available on the computer of individual employees. Annoying in the office, a complete show-stopper when working from home. In the 2020 CRM study, 42 percent of those surveyed stated that their customer data is stored in 2-3 systems, and 6 percent even in more than 5 systems. The storage location is also interesting: 12 percent of the participants stated that they save customer data in Excel or Outlook. This promotes data islands from which erroneous and redundant customer data arise.
When it comes to digitization, it makes more sense to use a central node for all customer data that every employee has access to, even when working from home. This not only enables better teamwork, but also cross-departmental work.
3. Virtual Communication
Working from home also changes communication. While on-site appointments with customers can quickly be switched to video calls, communication with the team is more difficult in the digitized world of work. Of course, you can also replace meetings with video calls here. But how do you keep track of tasks, responsibilities and deadlines that were often clarified in brief consultations in the office?
Just asked in the chat, a query by email, a quick phone call with a colleague and you can find more information in the project management tool of your choice. In the end you get all the information, but obtaining it is not very efficient, takes time and every employee creates their own data island.
Here, too, it is important to use a central tool, such as a CRM, in which all information is available and comprehensibly bundled. If you use different tools for collaboration, it makes sense to connect them to the CRM via an interface in the course of digitization.
How is Corona changing the customer journey?
Canceled trade fairs and events, distance regulations, lockdown – analogue encounters are currently hardly possible. This may change the customer journey for your customers. Marketing, sales and service have to adapt.
What is a customer journey?
The customer journey (customer journey), also buyer journey or user journey, defines the individual phases that a (potential) customer goes through with a product, a brand or a company before he decides to buy a product or service and beyond .
Due to the Corona crisis, the customer journey is almost exclusively digitized for most companies. Digital contact options for the customer with you are therefore becoming even more important. Customer data is becoming even more important and marketing and sales must be even more closely interlinked. This works, for example, via a CRM system in which customer data is available across departments and can be maintained.
What are the consequences of the corona pandemic for marketing?
A large part of the analog touchpoints (points of contact with customers) of the customer journey are currently omitted: conferences, trade fairs, events. Instead, in order to generate leads, digital touchpoints must be created or optimized. Content and campaigns must therefore be geared to the current situation.
Lead nurturing is the keyword here: maintaining existing contacts with prospects or customers. This also means that leads have to be collected via social media, landing pages, content marketing.
Also read the expert article by Norbert Schuster: From lead to deal
Tips for your marketing strategy
Improve your email marketing. Whether manually for specifically selected customers or automatically for a larger number of customers: keep your customers informed with important, useful content – and keep them in conversation.
Send personalized messages. The corona pandemic has shown everyone how important personal contact is – and right now it is missing. It is all the more important to find new creative ways to send individual messages to your prospects and customers.
Use your customer data from the CRM to optimize not only your marketing but also your sales. Your CRM provides insight into the following questions:
- What did the customer find out about?
- Which products has the customer already bought?
- What other products have other customers bought who bought this product?
- How long ago was the last purchase or the last contact?
- Which email links did the lead click?
- What content did the prospect download?
How does sales succeed despite the Corona crisis?
The customer data in the CRM system is also of great benefit for sales and strengthens the sales strategy.
In addition, digitization is the be-all and end-all. Because sales talks at trade fairs, events and at the customer’s site are hardly possible. According to the Covid-19 Sales Pulse Check study by Camelot IT Lab, 58% of the sales employees and executives surveyed see the digitalization of sales processes as the best perspective in order to be able to act more professionally in future crises.
Use digital communication channels as well as virtual events and webinars. In the above study, Prof. Dr. Christian Schmitz, scientific advisor of the DIV German Institute for Sales Research, also two essential performance levers through remote selling, via telephone or video calls:
- Sales reps reach a higher number of contacts
- At the same time, a higher number of contacts with A and B customers is possible
The digitization of sales processes also has advantages.
Show your customers right now that you are a strong, future-oriented partner – and above all, be understanding and respond to the current needs of your customers.
Your CRM shows you, among other things, where cross- and up-selling potential lies with the individual customers. In this way you can make helpful and suitable offers to the customer.
What does the service have to offer during Corona?
Good service is particularly important in times of crisis. Customers are currently still unsure and want direct interaction. Successful customer service also has a long-term effect on the positive brand perception of your company.
Show your customers that trust in your products and services is justified. Here, too, digitization with a CRM offers many functions that take your service to the next level:
You know the customer history
Your customer does not have to explain his problem several times and every employee has all the information about the customer ready. Independent of department and place of work.
You have solutions at hand
Exchange, reimbursement, price reduction – which solution is the right one for the current situation is stored in knowledge management. So you can react quickly.
You have an overview of the status of all complaints
In the CRM you have an overview of all customer inquiries. This allows you to prioritize and manage incoming complaints and view their current status.
Conclusion: Use the crisis as an opportunity for digitization
The Corona crisis came unexpectedly. For each. But right now you have the chance to reposition yourself, improve processes and not only survive the crisis, but emerge stronger from it. The digitization of the working world creates new possibilities, potential and opportunities that you can use.
And also if you have to react quickly: Take the time to define your goals, digitize processes in a thoughtful manner and implement the introduction or further development of your CRM system. It’s worth it, because digitization makes your company adaptable, able to act and thus survivable in times of crisis.