No matter your industry, what you sell, or who you sell it to, your relationships with customers are critical to your success. Maintaining those relationships efficiently is just as important, which is one of the key reasons I recommend using a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. The right CRM will provide you with the tools necessary to manage relationships, personalize interactions, and build a useful, one-stop library of knowledge on each of your valued customers.
So yes, CRM is a big deal, and something every small business should strongly consider. Here is why, and how it works.
Information, Anticipation, and Relationships: Why Your Business Will Benefit from a CRM
Your CRM serves many functions, but its most basic utilities are pretty straightforward. It stores data on customers, allows you to track trends, and provides a centralized location for data so that one rep can pick up where another leaves off with a given prospect. We talked a bit recently about why we always start with why, and your CRM is a great tool for figuring out why in the first place. Here are a few examples of how it works:
- The Repeat Returner – “Hello, I just purchased Product A. The packaging was creased and you spelled my last name wrong on the packing slip. Please send me something free to rectify this injustice.” Returns and refunds happen. It’s part of the business, no matter what business you’re in. But some people, like in the example above, are just fishing for a handout. With a CRM tool in place, you simply check the customer’s record, see that they’ve complained after every purchase, send a polite reply, and get on with your day. CRM is especially useful if you enjoy the many benefits of eCommerce for your business.
- The Repeat Customer – “Hey, I visited your store last year. You gave me a great recommendation on what to buy and how to use it. Now, I need help with…” There are few better feelings for a small business owner than having a customer return with positive memories from a long-ago transaction. Yet those magic moments go to waste if you can’t build on them in the future. CRM allows you to track the tendencies of customers, and deliver personalized service based on previous interactions.
- The Lost Lamb – Time to turn the tables. You’re prepping for a sales call with a huge potential client, and need to nail every detail. Only, a few key files have gotten lost in the shuffle at the worst possible moment. Seriously, stop worrying about losing key data, whether physical or digital. Your CRM tool allows you to keep all of that stuff in one place, and provide access to any employee who needs it.
- The Lone Ranger – “It’s been great working with you, but it’s time for me to move on to a new challenge. By the way, I’m taking all of my files and customer data with me, and my company-issued laptop crashed yesterday so I tossed it into the river.”
Yes, even the best employees occasionally move on to something new, and even amicable splits can lead to major data gaps. No, having one key employee leave doesn’t have to put everyone left at a disadvantage. With a CRM tool, it’s as simple as logging in, checking customer data, and having someone new pick up where the departed employee left off.
- The Studious Scholar – What keeps repeat customers coming back for more? Why do you perform well with some demographics, but lag with others? What can you do to convert more prospects? With enough data about the past, you can also make better predictions about what customers will want in the future. This data also allows you to understand what’s working, what’s not, and what you can do to improve performance, so study away!
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CRMs are a very versatile tool, and a great fit for any business that places priority on customer service. We all love having access to relevant data that can help us improve how we do business. With an integrated CRM system, you can keep all of that data in one convenient place, and constantly add to the knowledge base of your business.
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