In an age when data is just a click away and competition is bigger than ever, we have to put more and more effort into building long-term relationships with our customers. At the same time, we often forget that it’s harder to find a new customer than to retain an existing one. But with all those e-mails, calls, and appointments you have to deal with every day, how do you really devote yourself to each client? I can honestly say that without the support of a quality system, it is almost impossible. So let’s go back to the basics.
What is CRM anyway?
C – Customer
The peak of every entrepreneurial endeavour. It’s true, we all want to offer a new, cool or improved product or service to the market. But we can develop the best solution in the world – without customers, it won’t matter much.
R – Relationship
We need to be in touch with our customers, we need to listen, we need to gather feedback, and track their satisfaction with the service provided or product sold. Also, we will often try to establish relationships with prospective customers. The key is to always give our customer or prospect a personalised approach, because people love to work with people.
M – Management
How do we manage our clients? There are people who can maintain quality relationships with 5 clients, and there are people who can maintain quality relationships with hundreds of clients while still relying on their own memory and information storage methodology. But, what happens when someone else needs access to that information? What happens when you want to transfer a task to your colleague? What happens when you need to report on the data you have stored “in your head”?
When we think about what CRM is, we like to joke and say that even a piece of paper can be a CRM system if we write valuable information on it. But, the challenge lies in what happens when we have a pile of different post-it notes, notepads, spreadsheets, emails, digital notes on our phones and computers.
The key is to organise that valuable data:
- define a centralised input location;
- define how this new data will be related to other, pre-existing data or data which is yet to be gathered;
- make all of that data available for easy sharing, reporting and analysis.
At first, spreadsheets do seem to be a good choice for organising large amounts of data, and they also give us possibilities to filter it and analyse it in a very quick way, but why can’t we look at them as a proper solution for all our challenges? They get outdated quickly, they get lost very easily, you pile them up quickly – just as you would with pieces of paper or business cards you got from prospective customers during the last event you attended. The risk of data duplication is enormous – you might have data on a certain client in multiple different spreadsheets, without even realizing it. And another thing, they’re a hassle to use in collaboration with others!
1. It is your central customer database.
It allows your employees to quickly enter all relevant data about their leads and contacts. Of course, it can also help you organise that data, categorise your customers, and keep everything up to date.
2. It allows you to log and track all interactions with your customers.
Besides being an organised customer database, it allows you to log customer interactions. You can log notes from a phone call or meeting, you can set up follow-up tasks and log important emails. That way, next time you call your customer, you can make them feel very important if you know or “remember” everything from your past interactions. This really allows you to build long-term relationships with your customers.
3. It helps you analyse all that data.
What gets measured gets improved. After you organise your customer data and interactions, you can measure your success, you can report, you can predict, you can detect areas of improvement in your business processes. (So here’s also a little sneak peek of topics you’ll be able to read in future posts!)
And one more thing…
To be honest, these are just the basic benefits you can get out of a good CRM system, but if you do small improvements that make a big impact, you’ll soon realize that there is a number of different new ways CRM can help you improve your business.