Every business should be implementing new growth strategies as the market finally picks up steam. Your CRM system can be a valuable asset if utilized properly. On the other hand, it can be a growth deterrent if mismanaged. Simply put, your CRM system should acquire, grow and retain profitable customer relationships in order to create a sustainable competitive advantage.
Without a doubt, customer loyalty is a major ingredient of profitability. Creating customer loyalty needs to be an integral part of your business strategy. Understanding your customers’ basic requirements is fundamental to ongoing business success. You must put your customer at the center of your business and direct your CRM system to manage your customer communications at a very tactical level. It will ultimately help you build value and keep the communication channels open.
Unfortunately, CRM use is too often clumsy and costly for businesses. In most cases it has become an email machine that only generates spam while providing little incentive for customers to react to the messaging.
Consider the following when evaluating your present CRM initiative:
1. Have a Plan: A clear cut, defined strategy is a must. The CRM plan you create must focus on the long term picture — improving customer retention. If you’re CRM-generated mailings, emails, calls and follow-up don’t build customer trust, strengthen the relationship or increase customer value, you missed the target.
2. Don’t Neglect Training: Get provider training on both tactical and strategic use of the CRM system for users and managers. You need to know what this investment should do for you and hold staff accountable for those results. Don’t let a rookie steer the boat.
3. Communication Relevance: Collect data from your customers that you can later use to target your marketing efforts — and then target. Marketing to five smaller groups with relevent offers may take more initial investment, but the ROI will be far greater than when you market with one mass-mail offer to your entire customer base.
4. It’s Not a One-Way Street: Expecting customers to call you as the only offered reply format from one of your communications is naive. Rather, enable them to click into your website directly from your email and schedule the service or purchase the product online. Let them touch “0” on their keypad to respond to a voicemail message. Give them a special text code for replying to an offer or communication. Track that code throughout the customer interaction.
5. Email Blasts: One-time email blasts don’t encourage repeat business or build retention. They only alienate your customer base. Consumer spending, even on sale items, will continue to be replaced by a reason-to-buy at all. Ensure that your communications all have a targeted, pertinent reason.
6. Personalize: Addressing a letter or email using “last name, first” such as Jones, Bill or some other awkward salutation tells the customer the message is computer generated. You’ve lost the customer right there. Ask customers how they want to hear from you and then be sure you set the CRM to communicate with customers in that format, whether mail, email, text, phone or print.
7. Accountability: Even a basic desktop contact management system will market your business to customers, but only if you use it! Hold your team accountable, and hold the CRM manufacturer responsible for providing campaign result accountability.
Like the romance of dating, the pursuing, wooing, and winning of customers for life is a long-term strategy. The CRM is an ideal tool for supporting this profitable goal. When you use your CRM to make it easy for customers to do business with you, you’ll not only win their business, you will earn it repeatedly.
Using these criteria to examine your CRM, how do your current programs and processes measure up? What areas need an even closer look?
What others methods have you used for evaluating your CRM’s efficacy?