It Starts With Employees
I have written several CRM articles detailing technologies and strategies for improving customer relationship management (CRM) including the use of webcasting, ways to improve your brand website and conference presentations. However, it may be important to take a step back, and address the fact that CRM really begins with your employees.
Many people say a business is only as good as its employees, and this is particularly true in terms of CRM. Employee engagement, support and appreciation all trickle down to customer relationships, so it’s crucial for businesses to foster strong employee relationships in order to be successful.
Here are three ways to improve CRM through enhanced employee engagement/development:
1. Training and Education – Standardizing resources and offering opportunities for advancement and growth are definitely factors that are important to many employees. Learning new skills can help employees stay motivated and improve job performance, which will ultimately benefit the client. For example, if an employee learns how to use a new software program or can introduce a new marketing concept, these skills and ideas can be applied to enhance a client’s business. Additionally, new-hire training can benefit customer relationships. If employees are thoroughly trained from the start, clients will experience less of an adjustment period when someone new joins their account team.
2. Communication – Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customer.” Therefore, how you communicate and interact with your employees should be just as friendly, respectful and supportive as you would act toward a client.
We always want our customers to know we are there for them, to answer questions, offer assistance and to help them succeed. The same should be true for your employees. Keep the lines of communication open between you and your employees, encourage feedback and hold regular meetings or check-ins. Just like you pour over customer analytics and ask your clients how you can better meet their needs, the same should hold true for your employees. This will help improve operations/processes and relationships internally that affect your external customer relationships.
3. Appreciation – Who doesn’t love a freebie or special perk? Who doesn’t like to make the workday a little more fun? Who doesn’t want more flexibility and convenience in their lives? Okay, you get the point. Find ways to bring enjoyment to the office, boost morale and keep your employees motivated. Our office has the occasional “Beer Friday,” quirky office contests and lunch ordered in on special days. We’re also pretty flexible about appointments during the workday and working from home, if necessary.
If your employees are happy and enjoy coming to work, this will be apparent in their client interactions (e.g., they’ll be more likely and willing to help, develop new initiatives and speak positively about work, etc.). If employees are unhappy, it may become noticeable to customers, and I certainly wouldn’t want to work with a company with that.
If an organization can’t make their employees happy, how can they make their customers happy and effectively handle clients’ businesses?
Bottom line: If employees are acknowledged for a job well done and feel valued, they are not only much more likely to stay at a company, but they are more likely to provide important contributions to their team and go out of their way for clients.
So, next time you are investigating CRM software options, you may want to invest some of that budget in your employees.