Having a solid customer relationship management (CRM) process is a vital practice of any successful business. After all, without your customers, your business ceases to exist.
Happy customers feel important — like you remember them and have true concern for their needs.
One time I went to get my hair cut with a stylist I hadn’t seen about five years. We were chatting while she was cutting my hair and she said “So, your daughter must be about 7 now?”
I was completely blown away. I couldn’t believe she could remember such a small detail about me. I was surprised she had remembered me after all this time, let alone the fact that I had a daughter. It didn’t dawn on me until later that she had obviously taken notes after our last appointment. There’s no way she had actually remembered — but that’s what a good CRM can do.
A good customer relations management process will go a long way towards staying organized and being able to treat all your customers as if they are your ONLY customer.
What Is Customer Relationship Management?
A CRM is a software that allows you to keep track of all your customers and the little details you need to remember about them and where they are in the sales process.
Take my hairstylist as an example. In her CRM she makes notes of each client’s last appointment; such as the date, how they like their hair, what exact color she used, etc. This will prompt her to follow up if the client is due to return to the salon but hasn’t made an appointment — and prevents her from asking the same questions over and over.
But it does more than just follow the sales process — she can also record personal information so she can pick up the conversation right where she left off. She can record what they do for a living, what shows they mentioned they watch, if they have any vacations coming up, etc.
That way when they sit down in her chair again it’s as if they are best friends. The stylist remembers all the little details of their last conversation. She can ask how their vacation went or if they enjoyed the season finale of their favorite show.
It makes the client feel important — which keeps them coming back.
Why Is Good Customer Relationship Management Important?
Good customer relationship management is important to your business for a number of reasons. You already know that customer retention is important.
Choosing a CRM method and finding the time to perform the necessary duties to that method is an entirely different problem. But a successful customer relationship management process will fulfill that need for you.
Saves Time And Increases Sales
The right CRM process will help you have all of the information about each of your clients in one easy-to-access location.
If your memory is like mine, pulling customer data off the top of your head just isn’t going to happen. You talk with a client and think you’ll remember all of those little tidbits of information they shared.
Then your mind gets flooded with other information and the majority of that client conversation disappears. You find yourself struggling to remember. Did you mention your latest product release to that customer? What was their response?
If you have to call them again and ask, you’re wasting their time and yours. Not to mention it doesn’t look good for you that you’ve forgotten the conversation you had with them.
When you know exactly where they are in the sales process, for example that you’ve sent a sample and need to follow up, then you can easily give them a call at the proper time and ask how they are enjoying the product.
Without a system in place, you just send out the free sample and hope they contact you if they want to buy. Which is not the greatest process for maximizing sales.
Organized Contact Management
Organization can be a challenge for busy managers and business owners. Potential clients, new clients, existing clients, former clients; how to keep track of them all?
That’s what a good customer relationship management program will help you do
While you may be a whiz with a notebook and pen, or a spreadsheet program, a CRM program brings organization to a higher level. It also allows for easy editing, say, when a client turns from “cold” to “hot”.
Having all of your clients’ contact information and notes in one place means you’ll be able to easily add, delete, and modify your contact’s information as needed.
Allows Your Team To Work Together
If you have a team involved in sales or customer service a CRM is a must. Having everyone on the same page with all your customers is extremely important. You don’t want one salesperson calling a customer and then two days later different salesperson calls again.
A good CRM allows your team to work in concert to guarantee happy customers. Let’s say that you sell a complicated computer software that can be hard to set up. You could have your CRM automatically notify a member of your IT team to reach out two days after the sale to see if the customer has any questions.
Or the sales team for a landscaping company could be automatically reminded to call a customer three months after a big installation to make sure all the plants are still looking good — and to see if they need any other work done, of course.
Now that’s customer service! And it can all be set up automatically through your CRM.
Visual Tracking Of Customer Needs And Sales Opportunities
Another important benefit of a good CRM process is that it allows for quick access to visual tracking of customer needs and sales opportunities. With a few clicks, you’ll be able to access information that shows you which clients are currently using which products.
You’ll be able to tell who might benefit from products they’re not using, and whether or not you’ve talked to them about using those other products.
And you’ll also be able to learn what they said about a product recommendation. Did they give you a flat out “no”? Did they give you a “maybe” that you need to follow up on?
All of these pieces of information are important to a business that capitalizes on great customer service and potential growth.
Promotes Long-Term Customer Relationships And New Customer Opportunities
The organization that comes with a good CRM process does wonders for promoting long-term customer relationships.
When you can call a client and remind them about a specific need they mentioned, ask them about current product use, and also ask how their son Billy’s first year at Villanova is going, you’re showing them that you care about all aspects of their life. And that’s just good business.
It shows that you’re organized, on top of your game and looking out for your clients’ needs and interests.
What Are Some Key Steps In The Customer Relationship Management Process Cycle?
There are several steps you can take as you build a CRM process, but the five steps we’ll talk about here are some of the most important in the world of customer relationship management.
Defining Your Target Customer
Your CRM program will surely document your company’s existing client base. But you’ll also want to define your target customer as you work to add to your list of potential clients.
Is your target customer a business? If so, what size business? What type of business? If your target customer is an individual, what type of individual? Single person? Parents with young children?
As you define your target customer, your CRM program can get you better results as it works on generating leads to the right people.
Finding And Connecting With New Prospective Customers
Even though your marketing department is primarily responsible for finding new customers, your CRM program will assist the marketing department as they accomplish that.
For instance, it can help your marketing department staff more easily market through social media channels. Your CRM program will give your sales staff the technology and information it needs to more properly nurture those leads.
Understanding Your Individual Customer’s Needs
Your CRM process should be able to help you understand your customer’s needs as well. The notes on your client’s profile should include what products they’re currently using and how those products are working for them.
The profile should also include information about expanded customer needs. What needs aren’t being met for your client? And how can your company’s other products or services meet those needs?
Are they ready to try an additional product or service you offer? Did you give them a free trial? Did you follow up after the free trial to see if they liked your product or service?
A solid CRM process will be able to answer all of those questions for you.
Managing Current Customer Relationships
Regular management of current customer relationships is just as important to business success as seeking out new leads is. If your clients don’t feel valued, it makes it easier for them to follow offers from competing companies.
For example, a real estate agent might hear that the clients he sold a condo to three years ago just had a baby. Maybe now is a good time to reach out and see if they are thinking about a larger home?
Or a photographer can look up all the clients who have high school seniors to see about doing senior pictures.
Your job is to use your CRM process to help ensure your current clients don’t want to go anywhere else. And if they feel valued, cared for and if they know you’re constantly monitoring their needs to see how you can help them improve their life, they’re more likely to stay.
Using Data To Improve Your Company’s Processes, Products, And Services
In addition to the steps mentioned above, a good customer relationship management process will help you improve your company’s processes, products, and services.
As you engage with clients, you can use the information they share to make your products, services, and processes even better. Make what you offer better before your client asks or leaves for someone who already did create a better product or service.
What Are Some Other CRM Activities?
Besides the activities mentioned above, a good customer relationship management process can help you with other activities.
Social Media Engagement
Whether you like it or not, we live in a world that is dominated by social media. Social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok all take up many hours of our days.
Using your CRM program to reach your clients through the various social media sites gives them regular reminders that you are here for them. It helps you keep your business in their view regularly.
While emails may feel “old school”, the fact of the matter is that over 70 percent of people still use email as their primary means of communication.
Add that in with the fact that email brings a personal touch that other social media avenues don’t, and you’ve got a CRM gold mine for connecting with your clients courtesy of your email list.
The benefits of a solid CRM program are numerous. No successful business should be without one. But which CRM program should you use?
What Are Some Of The Best CRM Software Programs?
There are dozens of CRM programs available. And many companies offer both free and paid CRM software programs. Which one is best for your business?
The answer to that question depends a lot on what you’re looking for in a CRM program. There are three basic types of CRM software programs.
- Operational (assists you with automated tasks like email marketing)
- Analytical (assists you in converting leads into customers and keep customers happy)
- Collaborative (assists with management of team interaction and communication)
While you can find programs that include just one of these CRM operations, many include all three of these operations. Here are some of our favorite customer relationship management programs.
Insightly is a CRM software that is focused on helping companies manage teams and projects. It features the ability for your business to manage varying linear project pipelines.
And it’s customizable too, so you can tailor the pipelines to your company’s needs.
Insightly has a free version for up to two users, or a paid plan with more features and for more users, for $29 per user per month.
Salesforce Essentials is a comprehensive CRM program that can handle a wide variety of tasks. It’s a good choice for the small business, with advanced automation and customer service features.
Salesforce Essentials costs $25 per user, per month for up to ten users. They have other programs that can accommodate more users as well.
Like Salesforce Essentials, Zoho CRM is a comprehensive customer relationship management program. You can use Zoho’s free version for up to three users.
The paid versions, which run between $12 per user per month and $45 per user per month, come with a host of other valuable features.
If you’re committed to helping your business grow and thrive, a successful customer relationship management process is a necessary addition to your business plan. Don’t pass by this powerful tool for retaining and growing your customer base.
Having a good customer relationship management process is essential to any business. It’s important to know exactly who your customers are, what’s important to them, and where they are in the sales process.
This allows you to offer extraordinary customer service that will keep all your customers happy.