In an increasingly competitive market, smart businesses understand maintaining good customer relationships is essential to success.
Loyal customers are vital to any successful business. They not only provide return business, but are also great advocates for your brand. For your small business to succeed, managing customer relationships is essential.
Whilst old-school businesses may have relied on a Rolodex and a salesman with a great memory to maintain customer relationships, today’s businesses have technology at their fingertips. With just a few clicks, customer relationship management (CRM) tools can help you organise and analyse customer data, make payments easier for your customers, send out communications, and much more.
“Technology means it has never been easier to build a deeper connection with your customers. Likewise, technology has made it easier for your competitors to build a deep connection with your customers too and lure them away,” says Kochie’s Business Builders resident small business expert David Koch. “In this digital era, the key to business success is knowing your customer better than your competitors.”
Attracting new clients is often costly for small businesses. During tough times, your loyal customers keep your business afloat. Maintaining good relationships with your existing customers therefore makes financial sense. For this reason, Koch suggests customer management tools are now a “critical and fundamental foundation of every business”.
“Building a profile of your customer’s habits, preferences, cohort and individual nuances allow you to build a sophisticated strategy which will lead to sales,” he says.
A good CRM tool ensures your marketing and customer service resources are used to maximum effect. It can provide the data your business needs to make effective decisions, like who your top customers are, their purchasing behavior and preferences, as well as your top sales items. This kind of data can help you detect pain points and opportunities to grow your customers and business.
A CRM tool can also make life easier for your customers. Dashboards that allow them to view invoices, review their account history, and make payments online eliminate much of the back and forth communication and paperwork traditionally required to settle payments. Late payments – often a pain point for many small businesses – can be virtually eliminated. There’s no more invoice to chase up as your customers can pay you directly when the invoice is received online. A great tool to boost your cash flow!
Koch suggests managing customer relationships can provide big wins for your business and brand.
“It’s a basic business principle that customers who feel valued are more likely to repeat business and provide good word of mouth. This, in turn, builds goodwill, which attracts customers which adds to the value of your business,” says Koch. “Implementing CRM is a win for everyone.”
Kochie’s Top Tips for Keeping Customers Happy
Understand your customers
Who are they? What is their age, gender, occupation, hobbies? Where are they? How much do they spend? Why do they buy from you?
Communicate with your customers
Maintain touchpoints with your customers. Use social media and EDMs to deliver special offers. Use e-news to share personal milestones or customer stories. Send surveys to get feedback on any sticking points and to assist you in providing solutions.
Develop a customer service policy
Encourage a customer-centric approach in your business. Make sure all your staff are on the same page with this. Consider implementing customer service guidelines to ensure a consistent customer experience.
Keep a record of all your interactions. It makes it easier for someone else to pick up the ball should you get knocked out by illness or need to take time away from your business. It doesn’t need to be complex – even a word doc will do, however, many CRM systems will provide this feature.
Handle complaints with aplomb
A complaint is an opportunity to turn a bad experience into a good one. Often the most loyal customers are those you have resolved a complaint for. Provide guidelines and procedures for your staff to follow in the case of a complaint.
Keen to drive customer engagement, improve sales and discover data driven insights for your business? See how Sage One online accounting software can provide the CRM you need to make the most of your customer relationships!