Maintaining Good Customer Relationships Keeps Your Business Merry
How was your Christmas haul this summer? Did any cards or gifts stand out? Did anyone guess what you were really interested in or did you get a lot of same old same old? Maybe you can’t even remember, or maybe you didn’t get anything at all (horror!).
If a CRM (Customer Relationship Marketing) is like Santa with his elves in the North Pole factory, and a wishlist system was in charge of the gift-giving, we’d all be smiling for months. However, a lot of gift-givers take a much different, less disciplined route (if they take one at all!), which of course leads to poor results in the matching of cards and gifts to recipients.
What CRM is All About
CRM could solve all Christmas gift-giving woes…though you’d probably still need to deal with normal family issues like drunken Aunty Betty and Uncle Jim’s bad jokes! CRM is all about your business:
- Knowing who your customers are
- Finding out what their needs and wants are
- Delivering products and services to meet those needs
- Communicating on a regular basis, in a very targeted and personalised way to your customers.
- And keeping track of the communication so you have a history of what was said or offered when
Why would you want to do this?
A company who knows its customers well can offer incentives at the right moment to convert a sale. A company who communicates with its customers well can spend less on advertising. A company who remains at the forefront of customers’ minds can retain customers rather than losing them when the opposition runs a crazy margin-cutting sale. Knowing and speaking with your customers regularly is smart business. But to do all this, you need a systemised approach (no one likes receiving the same Christmas present three years running!).
Ways to go with CRM
There are a few ways to go and what you decide to do will depend on the size of your business now and the size you want it to be.
If you only have a few customers (and only want a few customers), handwritten notes in their files might be a good starting point, as long as you review them and add to them regularly, and reach out to those customers on a consistent basis.
If you’re a fast-growing company or a company who could make more of your current customer base, there are two options.
Some like the idea of a complete technology solution involving new hardware and software, extensive technical support for integration into backend systems and training of staff. To others, a simple suite of software integrating with your current customer database and systems works well.
Either way, unfortunately, it can cost you thousands to set up. There is no point in installing anything unless you have your own house in order and people and processes are working together to serve the customer.
For a Successful CRM: Keep Your House in Order
Any system (be it manual or computerised) will fail, however straightforward or simple, if your house is not in order. Therefore:
- Clean up your database or start one if you haven’t already! People switch jobs and email addresses, they might have remarried and now have a different name, they might not be working at the company you’re trying to target anymore or might now be living in a different suburb. It’s important to get as many details right initially so you don’t waste money when you start communicating.
- Clean up your act. Great customer service is crucial because it’s no use investing in CRM if the customers are turned off the moment they make contact
- Identify the customers’ “moments of truth”. A moment of truth is any point at which they make contact with your company whether through a member of the staff or even your website. Eg: Calling for a quote, calling to place an order, calling for customer service, checking on an order and checking on a service.
- Provide consistent levels of service at each moment of truth. A bad experience for a customer at one moment of truth can cloud a great experience had at five others
- Map out your business processes, identify the critical ones to customer relationships and perfect them.
When you have done all this, then think about a technical solution to support what you are already doing on a manual basis.
Above all, make communication regular and relevant to the individual customer. Make sure you get in contact monthly – this is the key to great customer relationship marketing, and therefore, retained and new business. Oh…and apply CRM to your Christmas purchases next year and watch those eyes light up!