Excellent customer relationships require more than a CRM system

Customer Relationship Management system in place? Tick.
Then my customer relationships are sorted, right? Wrong.

That is because your Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, system is simply a structure to help manage your customer-related activity well. It is not a replacement for good customer interaction and engagement.

Your CRM system enables you to log information about your customers and the communications and interactions between you. It helps you to understand and respond to their individual circumstances, needs and preferences. Set up and used correctly, it puts relevant information about an individual customer at your fingertips, so you can provide a targeted experience every time you engage with them. Importantly, it can identify and flag up times when you need to take action. But it won’t build your relationships on its own.

 

Why are customer relationships important?

It may sound obvious but, without customers you don’t have a business, so building great relationships with them is vital to your success.

Two points that are always worth remembering…

  1. It’s easier (and cheaper) to retain an existing customer than to win a new one
  2. A dissatisfied customer is more likely to share their experience than a satisfied customer

… so investing time and energy in your customer relationships is vital.

Whether it’s in our personal lives or in business, we all know that relationships don’t just happen, they are built. They are usually based on some shared point of interest. In the world of business, this is the service or product you offer which meets the need or desire that your customer has.

To build a relationship, your customer puts in the work to find the solution that’s right for them. You have to put effort in to understanding and offering something which fits their needs and to sharing relevant information with them in the right way and at the right time.

For us, customer relationship management is where marketing, sales, service delivery and support come together.

Initially, it’s about what you offer to your customers. Followed by what you say to customers, when you say it and how that message is delivered. It’s also about what you do, both proactively and in response to what your customers are telling you.

 

Use the knowledge within your business

To achieve the relationships you want with your customers, and to convert potential customers into buyers, you need to bring together the people in your business who know your customers and your market. Pooling the knowledge and experience of those involved in marketing, sales, service delivery and support, you can work out the best way to properly engage and influence those you want to buy from you.

When going through this knowledge sharing process you may also identify improvements to the way your business manages its operations which would provide better services to your customers. It’s a chance to put things right before you have an issue.

If the people within your business who deal with customers are not connecting, sharing their knowledge and working together then you’re not using your assets to the best advantage and you’re likely to make mistakes. Mistakes which someone in the organisation could probably have helped you avoid.

 

Build great customer relationships

To build great customer relationships you need to:

  • recognise that whilst you might have them organised into segments, customers are individuals, so you need to log their personal preferences and history, to enable you to respond to their particular needs.
  • understand what you should say or tell customers and potential customers at key points, by thinking about the buyer journey and the post purchase experience.
  • use all the formal and informal feedback you get, to any part of your organisation, to inform your activity. You don’t want to plan a sales visit when they’ve said that they prefer to be contacted by phone. Or try to sell them something they’ve already told you isn’t right for them.
  • monitor what is happening with individual customers so you can identify trigger points when you need to take action. Knowing what those trigger points are will help ensure you don’t miss a window of opportunity. It will also help you spot problems as they arise.
  • ensure information is shared and used by everyone in your business who is dealing with customers – including those who handle financial matters. Let everyone know they have a responsibility to feedback on any customer engagements and to help keep the information up to date.
  • remember that things change over time. As well as keeping your information up to date, you must continue to revisit your thinking about the products or services you offer, the customer journey and the post-purchase experience. Use the information you are collecting to continually learn about your customers and how you can serve them better.

As we keep saying to our clients, it’s about putting the customer at the heart of everything you do.

Getting the right CRM system is the start of the process and I have also published an article providing guidance on what you need to think about get a CRM system that works for you.

How you use that CRM system is what will make the difference.

Using it as a valuable tool which informs your actions will help you build and maintain excellent customer relationships. In turn, this will help you sell more, profitably.

Need help with your marketing?

FR Marketing delivers marketing with intelligence. Our approach means using all the assets at your disposal to help you sell your products or services, profitably.

If you need assistance with any aspect of your marketing, or would like to know more about how we work, please get in touch

 

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