Before you embark in investing your hard-earned capital into a complex CRM project, you first need to make sure that your infrastructure, culture and business procedures are ready for it. And what better way to start with an easy to navigate, simple CRM?
All businesses are to some extent reliant on technology these days, but CRM can be more than that. It can be a philosophy that can be applied to all customer interactions with the aim of getting the most out of every customer contact.
C for Customer
The first rule of good CRM is the first letter of the abbreviation: C stands for customer, and to make the most of CRM in its simplest form you need to put the customer at the centre of everything you do. This might sound obvious – patronising even – but it’s certainly something that’s worth examining in your business.
A strategy here can trump any number of software solutions – customer needs must come first. This strategy must come from the top of your organisation, but be adopted from the bottom up to succeed. The first step in any successful relationship – and that’s what this is all about – is caring about the other party.
Measure your relationships
You should also be prepared to measure the way your relationships are working (or not). So, even if you decide you don’t need a complex CRM system, you should have some processes in place that will evaluate how customer interactions are working for you – are you logging leads? Are you evaluating leads to find the best prospects?
Simple CRM processes are easier and more rewarding when it comes to interacting. Therefore, optimise your customer interactions as far as you can and your staff and your customers will get more out of them. Work out which sort of customer interactions are the most valuable and focus on those for your sales and marketing teams.
Good training encourages adoption
Training and knowledge is a key factor in good customer relationships, and thus in getting more out of interactions. Well-informed staff with strong ‘soft skills’ will make the most of their customers naturally. That means investing in training and giving people the time to talk if necessary, but it’s something that should pay off. Retail businesses who tried this approach found an unexpected benefit in a massive decrease in shop lifting.
You should also be prepared to learn from others and to look at your own practices as a customer. See what works for your competitors and try to mystery shop your own customer experience too. If in doubt, ask the people who really know – the customers themselves.
CRM should be part of everything you do if it is to succeed, it is much more than just a piece of technology.
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