For a manufacturing company any enterprise for that matter, controlling waste is always a top priority. During periods when the economy is sluggish, there is an even greater need to streamline processes and find ways to mitigate or eliminate value-diminishing activities.

Waste does not only result from the misuse or disorganization in the handling of material or tangible assets, it also rears its head within the customer relationship arena. Lost opportunities from sales, marketing or customer service perspectives, improper or late order fulfillment or simply allowing customer needs to slip through the cracks can be equally as damaging to the “bottom line” as wasted material resources.

CRM software addresses customer-facing efficiency issues

Where inventory control software and other types of shop management software direct the work process and material management sides of a manufacturing operation, customer relationship management (CRM) software controls the client interaction end.

Enterprise resource planning software (ERP software) automates and integrates every function within an enterprise from finance to equipment operation. Although it is available as a “stand-alone” product, CRM software is often included in an overall ERP solutions package. CRM software may incorporate certain aspects of a shop’s manufacturing software such as inventory updates and production level assessments. However, it is geared mainly toward organizing, managing and providing easy access to customer data and statistics.

Some advantages of having an effective CRM system in place are:

  • The ability to track client contact at every stage of the sales process.
  • The provision of analysis and reporting on the purchasing habits of customers.
  • Quick response to customer inquiries and support issues.
  • Pricing and product information and updates can be automatically generated and sent to prospective or existing clients.
  • Sales and marketing strategies can be designed that are specific to customer desires.

When CRM is incorporated into a job shop software suite, the time, effort and costs associated with sales, marketing and customer support endeavors can be significantly reduced. By blending client behavior and trend analysis together with specific product-related data, a once-fragmented customer relationship structure can be transformed into a lean and efficient system.