Customer relationship management (CRM) is the process of organizing and synchronizing interactions with current and potential customers. Moreover, CRM strives to automate the processes that make up relationship management using technology. Areas of automation and synchronization can include sales, marketing, and technical support.
Research the Possibilities
CRM programs allow businesses to:
- Better understand their customers
- Attract new customers
- Retain customers through better user experiences
- Increase profits
- Decrease customer support costs
The advent of new technologies and customer relationship management software has made it even easier and more cost-efficient for companies to remain in touch with customers and provide them with excellent service. Therefore, the first step in creating or improving a customer relationship management system should involve researching all the possibilities available.
Keep It Simple
With all the powerful options offered in the CRM marketplace, it can be easy to over-complicate a customer relationship management system. When it comes to CRM solutions, one should keep in mind that just because something can be done doesn't necessarily mean it should be done. Managers should look into top-rated CRM services and research their various capabilities. Small business owners should research the different CRM services available that are geared toward small businesses.
Popular CRM Software Services
The industry leader in the realm of CRM software is without a doubt Salesforce. This powerful, customizable software that utilizes cloud computing to automate sales, marketing and communication functions can be found in use in businesses of every size worldwide. Another hugely popular product is Microsoft Dynamics, which offers the added benefit of syncing up with all your existing Microsoft software products.
When it comes to small business, CRM software offerings such as Zoho, SugarCRM and Insightly are interesting choices. These programs provide advantages over some of their competitors by being more flexible and less expensive. For example, SugarCRM allows customers to customize the application at will due to its open source code, and Insightly allows full integration with the suite of Google applications that so many people use these days.
Building a CRM system with overly-complex methodologies and software can end up being more of a detriment than an improvement. Business owners and decision-makers should painstakingly analyze what their goals are in relation to managing relationships with their customers and only implement systems and software that can effectively and efficiently lead to reaching those goals.
Managers can sometimes be overwhelmed by the technological capabilities at their fingertips and forget that, in the end, a customer relationship management system is about human interactions. Yes, CRM software can streamline this interaction process, but owners and managers must remember that the CRM system is only as good as the people using it.
Before rolling out a CRM system, putting employees through a thorough training regimen is imperative. Moreover, managers should always take into account the feedback and ideas of the people who will be using the system. Ultimately, no CRM system can be successful without its users having a full grasp of its capabilities and standing behind its intent.
Space Communication Carefully
A delicate balancing act exists between staying in touch with customers and ending up in their spam folders. If communication is too sparse, this can affect the open rate of your business. On the other hand, if your CRM system communicates with customers too frequently, customers may unsubscribe from your newsletters, product updates, et cetera.
Sending updates to customers every couple of weeks will usually be enough to stay in the forefront of their minds without becoming annoying or overbearing. Sending "value adding" messages also helps in this regard. For instance, being familiar with customers' needs and desires allows customer service representatives to craft messages catered specifically to the customer's interests. Messages like these will be perceived as more personal and responsive.
Provide Amazing Customer Service
Providing amazing customer service seems like a given, but this facet of business management is often grossly overlooked. Customer service is a part of customer relationship management that should be perceived as a privilege and not an obligation.
Great customer service and technical support starts with conscientious and well-trained representatives, but it is key for a company to have solutions prepared in advance as much as possible. Honesty is also essential in this process. Transparency about product issues and a reasonable level of humility can go a long way in the eyes of an upset customer.
Create a culture of acknowledgement and be sure to set attainable goals when it comes to fixing a customer's problems.
Utilize the Customer Feedback Loop
Along the same lines as providing great customer service, a successful CRM program will have a methodology of monitoring customer feedback, wherever it may come from. A company will develop significant competitive advantages if it can provide solutions to customers before they reach the point of contacting customer service directly.
When a customer is led to contact support representatives, make sure to respond to the concerns raised as quickly as possible. Customers will see that they are cared for and their issues matter.
Build a Social Media Presence
Social media presence is an absolute necessity in today's marketplace. For many customers, this is the sole outlet for communication a business will have. Moreover, a complaint or negative experience with your company can be voiced publicly more so now than ever before.
The beauty of social media is its ability to quickly and successfully begin word of mouth campaigns. No other form of marketing is more successful than a customer personally vouching for your company's product. With social media, these positive experiences can reach huge numbers of potential new customers in an instant.
It's essential to keep a close eye on complaints voiced in social media outlets, though. Negative experiences can have the same powerful effect as positive ones. Quick and decisive action by customer support can turn a potentially catastrophic situation into a noteworthy customer relationship victory.
Create a Customer Rewards Program
It is often noted that it is much easier and far less costly for a company to retain existing customers than to engage new ones. There are few better methods for achieving a loyal customer base than a customer rewards program.
Most people are familiar with these types of programs. Who hasn't picked up a card from their local coffee shop offering a free cup of coffee when 10 stamps are reached? While simple techniques such as this can build loyalty, more creative ideas that save a good customer significant money can lead to equally significant growth for your business.
The bottom line is that customers who keep returning for your products or services should be compensated appropriately. These are the centers of influence that can act as CRM agents on your company's behalf.
While a customer rewards program is a great way to thank your customers for their continued support, nothing works quite as well as a CRM tool than a thank you message with a personal touch. Emails and phone calls are good starts, but hand-written notes and in-person visits cannot be topped.
A customer who becomes a friend can be indispensable to a CRM program. These are the people who will stick with you in down times and be honest with you about where your service can improve.
Technology With a Human Touch
Whatever customer relationship management system you choose, it is imperative to remember that CRM is a customer-oriented endeavor. If a part of a CRM program does not improve customer experience, then it is pointless.
CRM software is a powerful tool for organizing customer data and automating customer communication, but a business should always remember that human interaction is the foundation of CRM. Creating a relationship management program that utilizes the resources offered through technology while maintaining the all-important human touch can take your business to extraordinary levels.