You may have heard a lot of noise in recent years around the acronym CRM. But do you know what it means? In a nutshell, CRM (in longhand, Customer Relationship Management) is a vital strategy for businesses to transform customer interactions. It is about investing in your customer base and prospects to secure their business as long as possible. And increasing their spending at the same time. But how is that possible in today’s dog-eat-dog business world?
What you will learn in this article
- What Customer Relationship Management means
- Why customer relationship management is a vital business strategy
- The underlying arguments for CRM adoption
- How you can create a customer-focused strategy
- The 7 best customer retention strategies
What does Customer Relationship Management mean?
CRM is almost universally considered an essential tool in helping businesses of all sizes deliver an outstanding customer experience. It is a system that allows small businesses and large corporations to manage marketing, sales, and customers.
Instead of juggling multiple spreadsheets and chasing down the Post-It note you scribbled down last week, CRM unifies everything in one easily accessible space. Everything you do is conducted within the CRM platform, including:
- Logging phone calls
- Keeping accurate records of meetings, conversations, and quotes
All your departments are involved. Instead of them working in compartments, you can share information more effectively. This gives everyone a much clearer picture of what is happening with clients. You can then plan much more effectively and offer your customers the level of contact and support they need.
Why CRM is a game-changer
CRM is a tectonic shift in how companies – even small ones – go about their business. A CRM system that’s a good fit for your company will empower you to manage leads from initial contact through the sales funnel to closing the deal.
You set up a standard list of follow-up actions for each stage of the buying journey. And have everyone in a customer-facing role report their activities, outcomes, and sales projections. The goal of this information gathering is to produce a 360-degree view of every customer. All their data is centrally located and accessible to everyone who needs to know.
The undeniable case for CRM
As you will doubtlessly be aware, winning new customers is an expensive business. Indeed research suggests that it costs around five times more than retaining an existing customer. It makes eminent sense, therefore, to keep your existing customers as long as you possibly can.
The ace in the hole for CRM is its ability to automate many of your business processes. By keeping an accurate record of all your customer interactions, you can keep in lockstep with them.
For example, you will wish to record every product or service they have purchased and when. This enables you to create protocols about how and when you should contact the customer in the coming weeks and months. This permits you to more accurately predict when a customer is ready to purchase again or if there are opportunities for cross or upselling down the line.
Creating your customer-centric strategy
Forward-thinking, modern business takes customer relationships incredibly seriously. They are using CRM to up their game at every phase of the purchasing journey. Thanks to the technology and the real-time data-driven oversight you get, CRM is today the premier method of ensuring your company is customer-centric. And this is achieved by the superior level of personalization and team collaboration you can obtain.
7 top tips for customer retention
Onboarding and education
A well-thought-out onboarding program will go a long way in reinforcing customer satisfaction. Never abandon customers at the checkout. The degree of hand-holding will, of course, depend on the complexity of your product or service. And some customers will need more support than others. So carefully consider both of these points when developing your onboarding and after-sales education programs.
Every customer is an individual, so treat them as such. The rise of digital marketing has allowed much greater personalization of content and offers, so be sure to take full advantage. Using customer data in your CRM system enables you to better target customers with content and tailor-made offers.
Keep in touch with your customers. But be careful you don’t stray into spam territory. Regular communication will help you forge stronger bonds with customers. However, be aware of the frequency and only reach out when you have something of value to say. CRM will help you manage all of this and flag up when a customer is inactive and likely to jump ship.
A program that rewards customers is always a good idea. Special offers, discounts, and incentives (see three above) will help drive customer loyalty. A well-conceived program may also be enough to retain customers who were thinking about switching to a competitor. Plus, you can manage this and all your other customer comms directly from your CRM system.
Class-leading customer service
Being able to resolve customer issues speedily is a critical aspect of customer retention. CRM enables you to be as attentive as possible 24/7. Even an autoresponder acknowledgment that humans swiftly follow up will keep customers on side. Ensure customers have multiple ways to contact you, including live chat.
Being transparent in all your dealings with customers will show your brand care. CRM can help you be consistent in your approach, which is vital to growing trust with your customer base. Happy customers will stick with you and are more inclined to refer others. Unhappy customers will go elsewhere and tell everyone how much you suck.
Feedback, both positive and negative, is a good thing. It will allow you to identify problems and take corrective action. Customer testimonials, too, are powerful as prospects will give more weight to their opinion than your business ads.
Every business needs to retain as many customers as humanly possible in today’s hyper-competitive world. CRM is inarguably the best solution – even for small businesses. Contact us today to discuss how our cloud-based CRM system can help you. There’s even a free trial!