Here’s a test: go to your search engine of choice and enter “CRM” as your search term. If your results are anything like mine, what you’re going to find are pages and pages of offers of automated CRM solutions: CRM software, CRM tools, CRM downloads, CRM products.
It’s almost as if we were determined to take the relationship right out of CRM, isn’t it?
For a few years now, I’ve been talking about putting the R back in CRM, the relationship back into customer relationship management. The business world is becoming more and more competitive every day—and let’s face it, not every company creates widgets that are light years ahead of everybody else’s widgets. The edge that most companies can create in today’s marketplace is around always following best practices—and getting back to the basics of creating an outstanding customer experience.
If you’d like to create that kind of experience for your customers, here are five steps you can implement that will help put the relationship back into your customer relationship management:
1. Create the best product or service that you can. This may sound like a no-brainer, but without it, all the CRM in the world isn’t going to make you successful. Follow Steve Jobs’ advice to make something that is “insanely great” and you’ll be able to sell it … and thus sow the seeds of good CRM. It’s also a no-brainer to realize that your CRM efforts will be made easier by having a product or service that you can stand behind, that generates few complaints, and that people want to purchase or use.
2. Know your customers. Who are they, and what do they need? Being able to anticipate the next problem for which you might be able to supply a solution is part of excellent CRM. Also, knowing these same customers well enough to avoid problems is even better! The best customer service used to come from the small-town shops that knew their customers inside-out and could anticipate what product might suit them next. Why can’t you do the same thing today?
3. Communicate! Too often the communication tapers off after the first sale, and customers receive lackluster emails urging them to buy from time to time. Communication is key. Part of chatter marketing is putting #2 and #3 together to send messages that are crafted to a particular customer’s preferences, or to send transition marketing cascades to new customers, or to follow up with customers who have left your website without making a purchase. Finding the right balance between a comfortable number of emails and too many emails will depend on your product(s) or service(s) and on your customers themselves; but steady, reliable, well-timed communication is key.
4. Create tools that will help your customers. Your website should never be static. You should be constantly on the lookout for what will make the customer experience a more positive one, be it a Facebook badge, an easy-payment option, or an autofill screen. Ask your customers what they want, listen to their answers, and respond. Automating your email marketing so that certain customer behaviors will trigger immediate responses is a big part of outstanding CRM.
5. Track customer behavior. Analytics are a marketer’s best friend. Test, retest, and then test again. Find out which emails are the most effective, sent at what time of day on which day of the week. Find out which webpages are the most visited, and by whom. The only way that you’ll find out what works is by seeing the numbers, adjusting your emarketing, testing again, adjusting again.
So there you have it. Putting the R back into CRM is good for everyone: it creates an outstanding shopping experience for your customer, and is the best thing for your bottom line, too!