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customer relationship management

Customer Relationship Management is the Key to Retaining Customers

Let’s Make this (Customer) Relationship Work

The customer relationship is one of the most important relationships a business will have. As companies grow, expanding their customer base, their sales and marketing activities can become vastly more complicated. Companies that have more than ten customers and two employees probably need some way to manage those customer relationships in a way that benefits the business and the customer. Business has come to know this as Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

Customer Relationship Management is just that, a way to manage your relationships with your customers. CRM is useful because it becomes impossible to remember all the data and details associated with their customers. Knowing customer details can truly mean the difference between business success and failure.

[Editor’s Note: For more information, please read “Becoming Customer Centric“.]

Having names, addresses, phone numbers, billing & shipping info, etc. are just the basics required for your sales and marketing activities to win in any competitive environment. To efficiently scale and grow, many businesses need to go even further.

  • What did the customer buy before?
  • What information have we sent them in past interactions?
  • When is their birthday?
  • What is their [fill in the blank] kids, pets or spouses’ names?
  • What are their likes and dislikes?

Why do I need Customer Relationship Management?

Why? Because no matter the size of your business – people inherently want to do business with people they like. Any personalization that comes along with your business relationships increases the chances the customer will view the relationship positively. Positive relationships can lead to repeat customers. Businesses need and rely on customer data to help personalize and develop stronger bonds with clients.

Think about visiting your local neighborhood restaurant only to have the owner greet you by name. That feeling of belonging simply gets better to have that restaurant remember your birthday, your favorite drink, or to ask how you enjoyed your vacation. You would come to love that restaurant, you would want to go back again and again and to recommend it to your friends. Those same feelings can hold true in any customer-facing business – even if you are an insurance broker, attorney or consultant.

[Editor’s Note: For more information on targeting sales and marketing efforts to your business’ needs, please see “Targets Sales and Marketing Should Drive Your Company’s Growth“.]

Okay, so I need it. How do I get started?

I’ve had small and medium-size clients use everything from Microsoft Excel to expensive CRM software like Salesforce. What system, software or procedure you decide to use will be based on several factors for your business – type, size and customer requirements, etc. Here are 3 things that will ring true no matter the solution you choose:

  1. It doesn’t work unless the data is uploaded and people are committed to using the system. That takes time, training and dedication to getting it done. Train everyone that needs access to the data, then train others as a redundancy. Don’t skimp on this ever.
  2. Customer Relationship Management data must be kept up to date, so build it into your daily sales and marketing process. Don’t think you or someone else will/can go back and enter the data later. Later always comes, but the data never gets entered. Or worse, bad data happens when someone enters data from memory but forgets details that can be important.
  3. The CRM must be flexible because you’ll need to be able to grow with it, and maybe even into it. Especially with smaller businesses, it’s important that everybody understand the CRM system. No business can afford to simply stop and start over when the only person managing the CRM changes jobs, calls in sick or worse are hit by a bus.

[Editor’s note: You may also be interested in “Overcoming the Biggest Consumer Sales and Marketing Challenges”.]

Finding the Right Product for Your Business

Many people use Excel when they first start out. It’s free and that’s great if you are a whiz at Excel. Sadly, most people are not. Look at what others in yours or related industries are using. These should be the starting point for your list.

  • For the smallest businesses, I like Hubspot and Insightly, because they offer a free version for one or two users.
  • For medium-sized companies with some level of marketing sophistication, the premium features of Hubspot and Insightly can be good options. Plus, you could add in Zoho and Salesforce as real possibilities.

If you want to see how important CRM is to business just Google CRM statistics 2018. I warn you you’ll see lots of stats from CRM companies themselves. They are all basically saying the same thing, using a CRM correctly gives your business the best opportunities for growth.

It is up to you to build the relationship with your clients. CRM helps you manage that relationship and to leverage that relationship into growth.

About Scott Steer

Scott Steer is a New York-based marketing strategy/engagement/activation consultant focused on optimizing omni-channel marketing.

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