How to Build a CRM Strategy For The Contact Center

How to Build a CRM Strategy For The Contact Center

Post summary

  • CRM strategy extracts incredible value from data you already have
  • The contact center isn’t always where CRM strategy is born – even though they do manage most customer relationships!
  • Strong areas of focus include upselling, reduced acquisition costs and customer loyalty

What is CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. 

That can mean one of two different things:

  1. CRM is a strategy for improving how a business relates to current or potential customers. It’s usually intended to improve sales, customer retention or some other business goal. 
  2. CRM is a piece of software that aids that strategy. 

In this post we’re going to look at both – because you will need the right CRM software to make your CRM strategy work. 

Why does CRM strategy matter?

In a nutshell, CRM strategy is closely aligned with business success. 

Do you want to make more money per sale, or keep customers for longer? Do you want to attract better prospects or improve first contact resolution?

Ultimately, all of that comes down to CRM strategy. 


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Understanding Lifetime Customer Value

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is one of the most important concepts in a CRM strategy. 

In simple terms, CLV is that total cash value a customer represents for your business over the course of your relationship with them. 

Typically, the most important factors are of CLV are: 

  • What that customer spends
  • What acquiring that customer costs
  • What serving that customer costs

The often overlooked factors include:

  • The profit margin of the products that customer buys
  • The customer’s ‘added value’ (do they make a lot of referrals, for example) 
  • The cost of retaining that customer

How to create a CRM strategy

#1 Define clear objectives and actions 

This should be a fairly simple first step. 

Your broad goal is to increase CLV – so is there anywhere you have a shortfall?

The best tool for identifying a shortfall is industry benchmarking. If your competitors’ average customer churn is 5% and yours is 7.5%, what’s causing that? What’s the problem that you can overcome? 

All you need to do is complete this sentence: ‘We want to do <objective/timeframe> by <action>.’

A full version could be: ‘We want to decrease churn 10%  within 18 months by contacting customers nearing the end of their contract.’

As with any project, success depends on the clarity of your objectives. And good old SMART goal setting never fails. 

To summarize: 

Step 1: List the ways you improve the customer experience / lifetime value

Things like:

  • Feedback scores
  • Retention rates
  • Frequency and size of purchases
  • Customer sentiment
  • Cost of acquisition

Step 2: Establish what flaws are currently holding you back

Gather information by:

  • Listening to calls
  • Surveying customers
  • Interviewing agents and team leaders
  • Studying call disposition/reason codes
  • Using voice analytics and/NLU to understand friction points

Step 3: Brainstorm potential responses

Would it help to:

  • Redesign call handling processes
  • Invest in more automation
  • Reach out to customers preemptively
  • Focus on lead nurturing
  • Train agents in cross-selling

#2 Invest in CRM Software

It’s almost unthinkable that any large contact center is still getting by without CRM software. 

Frankly, most of what you will want to achieve will be out of reach if your business still depends on a workaround like spreadsheets. 

Not because it can’t be done, but because the effort and expense will make it totally impractical. 

So how do you choose the right software?

Your choice of customer support software ultimately depends on your budget and the features you need. 

Based on reviews, three systems are most trusted by their users: Zoho CRM, Pipedrive CRM and Sugar CRM. 

Some systems rate high for usability, or are especially geared towards selling. 

The best thing you can do is define your goals and actions in advance, and explore systems which have the functionality to achieve them. 

#3 Connect you CRM software with other core tools

CRM strategy is all about customer data to good use. And that’s not just the top-line data on purchases or renewals; everything is relevant!

Integrating your CRM software with other core tools means that data in one place can inform actions anywhere.

For example: 

you may want data from surveys to feed directly into your CRM – that will help you to identify opportunities to upsell, or customers who are a churn risk. 

Likewise, you need data from tickets in your cloud Helpdesk software to travel to your CRM, because that’s vital information about your cost-to-serve. 

The only meaningful way to connect the many different systems that your contact center depends on is with API integration. It’s a relatively simple process that effectively destroys the big problem of data silos.

Getting good CRM software is important, but it’s not the end of the story!

#4 Find every part that you can automate

What does all this work ultimately depend on?


When your goal is to increase CLV, you can’t spend much money before you stand to undermine yourself. 

That’s why it’s crucial that as much of your process is automated as possible. (Introducing more automation into the contact center is its own reward – ‘not enough automation’ routinely ranks as one of the top three contact center challenges.)

Luckily, once you’ve already secured a CRM system and connected it with surrounding call tools, creating automation gets a lot simpler. 

It’s simple because your automated process can cross those systems and handle several separate parts without human intervention. 

Here are some examples:

Retention calls

Task: place outbound calls to customers nearing the end of the first year’s subscription

As a manual task, this is totally unaffordable. Even with click-to-dial in a CRM system, 

actually finding those customers is too much work. 

With the right automation platform, it’s simple. Customers nearing the end of their subscription are automatically flagged in the CRM. Your integrated auto dialer schedules a call, and places it when an appropriate agent is free. 

Lead nurturing messages

Task: keep leads informed with regular news and updates

Again, writing and sending ad hoc messages quickly becomes a drain on resources. 

So which parts can you automate? Well, not the writing  – yet. But you can send SMS messages, emails or messages in other platforms based on either a schedule or specific external triggers. 

Priority routing

Task: directly connect high-value callers with the right agents

Priority routing is something that a lot of contact centers already have some version of. 

But the gold standard for priority routing not only bases complex routing decisions on all kinds of CRM data – it recognizes and routes customers based on nothing but their phone number. 

What’s the catch?

Traditionally, there has been a huge catch with this kind of automation. 

It’s price again!

The development resources needed (whether in-house or external) to create these kinds of automated processes are expensive. 

And it’s more than just a high up-front cost for labor. 

Starting an automation project means:

  • Creating a brief for a team who may not be so familiar with your needs or your systems. 
  • Waiting weeks for that team to be available. 
  • Waiting more weeks for the team to build what you need. 

The whole process invariably takes weeks or even months to produce the simplest automated processes. 

This, of course, is why No-Code automation is such an attractive option for a growing number of contact center businesses. 

Using No-Code, a single person within the contact center can create literally anything we’ve talked about in a matter of days or hours – without writing a single line of code. 

No special skills – no months long development – no pitching to external teams. 

Just one person and some simple tools. 

In practice that means bringing your CRM strategy to life will take less time than conceptualizing did in the first place!

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