Finding someone to sell to is easy — the hard part is in nurturing your relationship with that customer and gaining their loyalty. That’s where customer relationship management, or CRM, comes in. It’s not a magic bullet that will turn your business into an overnight success, though.
What you get out of a CRM software is entirely dependent on what you put into it. You have to actually work on turning it into a tool for success. And no, we don’t just mean upgrading to the most expensive edition to get your hands on some nifty new features. Here are four tips on how to do that.
1. Build word-of-mouth hype
It is now standard practice for a lot of businesses to learn as much as they can about a potential client before meeting them. How? Simply by checking that potential client’s social media profile.
In WORK[etc], you can search for and link contacts’ social media profiles using only their email address. You can also filter contacts according to their social media profiles. By doing so, you get a quick overview of what a contact or lead has been up to lately with a single click.
Whether it’s over LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, reading up on a contact’s social media profile helps provide talking points beyond the usual sales pitch. At the very least, a quick look at a prospective client’s Facebook or Twitter account gives you fodder for small talk. Meeting new contacts is suddenly a lot less awkward.
2. Listen to customer feedback
Remember: positive feedback is always welcome, but even bad reviews can sometimes be better for you in the long run. Pay attention to negative feedback from your customers and use it to improve and enhance the customer experience.
For example, the Discussions feature was one of the main additions to WORK[etc]’s new iPhone CRM app. During the beta testing phase, however, initial tester feedback was overwhelmingly negative — the new implementation just did not make sense and was basically a big failure.
Taking the feedback to heart, the module was completely redesigned and recoded. It may have pushed back the release date further, but because we listened to customer feedback and, more importantly, acted on it we’ll end up with a far superior final version of the iPhone app.
3. Be honest with your customers and yourself
Being straight up and honest with your customers about what your product can and cannot do is key to maintaining a good relationship with them. For example, whenever we demo WORK[etc] to a potential client, we lay out exactly what a user can expect from the CRM. We don’t just say the system is customizable — we show what can and can’t be changed, what can and can’t be added.
Sometimes a missing feature or functionality will cost you a potential customer, but that’s way better than promising the moon just to close a sale then failing to deliver. That’s pretty much the fastest way to create an unhappy customer. Word of mouth can be a double-edged sword, especially when we consider how social media amplifies its power.
A happy customer can get the word out about your product, but a complaint or bad review from an unhappy one may also now reach tens of thousands of other potential clients. Customers very rarely give out second chances when it comes to earning their trust, so never over-promise if you can’t deliver. Be up front. Your customers will thank you for it.
4. Keep track of the customer lifecycle
The customer lifecycle is made of the stages you go through from your first point of contact with a customer up to the time you gain their trust and get them to buy from you again. Keeping track of these stages and at which points your customers are currently lets you align your processes and tailor them for better customer experiences.
To illustrate, the customer lifecycle goes like this:
As you may have noticed, the customer lifecycle goes through every department of your business. Everyone from marketing and sales to finance and support must be in sync, as a complete picture of the can’t be seen if one part is missing.
Managing the customer lifecycle in WORK[etc] is easy since the system is built to be used by every department and team, from marketing and sales through to finance and support. WORK[etc]’s activity stream, which captures and logs everything you do for a client from the very first email you sent to the latest support ticket you received, makes tracking your relationship with any client or customer even easier.
A CRM system should be more than just a glorified storage space for contacts — it should make managing your business easier and more efficient. With a little elbow grease and the right system, you can turn it into more than just another tool gathering dust in the shed and into an indispensable weapon in your arsenal.