Using CRM to Achieve Green IT and Green Business Behaviors
Green Business Behaviors To Eliminate Waste and Expense
When energy prices were on the rise in 2007 and 2008, we heard an awful lot about the move to "Green IT." People began connecting the dots between computing and energy, and much was heralded about the win-win advantages of doing things in a green way: it's good for your budget, and it's good for the world.
And while that's true, it appears the hunkering down of the last two years has caused many to defer green initiatives, especially if they involve investments, as they tend to their core business and try to keep afloat on the stormy seas of a sour economy.
That's somewhat understandable, but it's also short sighted and inexcusable. The adoption of green business behavior (I prefer that to "green computing," which only tells part of the story) is something that can be done incrementally and can start paying off immediately in terms of a better bottom line - which is what the goal was all along, right? And, as with many things in business, green business behaviors can start with customer facing business processes, and your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
Green CRM? It's Already Green
CRM software systems aid your staff in working more efficiently; reducing business cycle times, redundant activities, rekeying of data and production of hardcopy documents such as quotes, orders, invoices, and reports, all of which are now frequently distributed and shared electronically.
CRM systems automate and manage staff and customer interactions across a multitude of internal departments and customer facing channels, so that staff incur less manual time doing these things. So, on a basic level, if you're people are getting their jobs done without having to burn the midnight oil, you don't have to pay for the lights for as long as you would otherwise. Simple.
That's one fairly basic green practice. Here's another one: using a CRM solution with a good service component, and coupling it with well-trained and empowered agents, can be green. Good service processes enable you to limit the frequency of technicians' visits, and allow your technicians to plan their daily calls to burn less gas. While you're saving fuel, money and time, your customers are also getting more things handled through the call center without the need for a technician's visit. Thus, you save money, limit your contribution to carbon emissions and end up with happier customers.
Even sales force automation is green in its own way by cutting down on the amount of travel your reps have to do to get face-to-face time. By allowing them to focus their energies on the customers who truly need face time, your sales people are more efficient, their expense accounts are smaller and they create less CO2. Similarly, linking your CRM data with your marketing presentations, and a telepresence solution, can dramatically decrease costs and carbon emissions associated with airline travel.
Another CRM trend that is definitely green is the increased adoption of software as a service (SaaS). Allowing the vendor to manage your applications through its datacenter – in a multi-tenant shared services environment along with the applications of other businesses – maximizes efficiency far better than your in-house, single tenant IT infrastructure. For example, much of the energy used by data centers goes for cooling, and cooling the hardware needed to run multiple businesses' applications is not much greater than cooling the hardware to run one business's applications. The same economy of scale goes for things like lighting and facilities security. Meanwhile, your business saves its up-front costs and has no need to invest in hardware, staff or facilities. SaaS CRM systems also support anytime, anywhere access to customer information which can encourage telecommuting or home office workers, and thereby reduce carbon emissions associated with the daily commute.
These are just a couple examples where minor shifts in business behavior can lead to both an improvement in your company's impact on the planet and improvement in your bottom line. It makes perfect sense that saving anything – power, water, paper, man-hours – translates directly into a savings at the bottom line. When it comes to Customer Relationship Management, it also translates into efficiency improvements that help service, sales and the satisfaction of customers. It's a win-win combination, and if there's an argument internally about leaning toward green, it may help to emphasize that conservation goes hand in hand with the extra green that goes in your pocket.
We'll talk more about this in the near term, and that will include a conversation with Denis Pombriant, the most vocal CRM voice around the idea of sustainability. In the meantime, I challenge you to look around your processes, your people and your technology – in other words, around the things that make up CRM – and look for ways that small changes can save energy and resources while improving the way your business works. A little creativity can pay big dividends – for your customers and for mother earth.
Saving anything – power, water, paper, man-hours – translates directly into a savings at the bottom line. When it comes to CRM, it also translates into efficiency improvements that help service, sales and the satisfaction of customers. It's a win-win combination, and if there's an argument internally about leaning toward green, it may help to emphasize that conservation goes hand in hand with the extra green that goes in your pocket.