If you’re a small business, you may think that CRM is not for you.

It’s a technological approach to dealing with customers and while you may associate it with cold, call centre contacts, the principles of making the most out of customer interactions makes sense for all businesses, particularly in these tough economic times.

The British economy is overwhelmingly one of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Only 0.1% of private businesses transcend this sector.

But you don’t need to be big to learn from the way big businesses operate, and getting the most out of your customers and turning passing trade into loyal followers is priceless whatever your turnover.

CRM for small business

Most small businesses start out with personal, one-to-one contact with clients. However, as you grow that will diminish. One of the strengths of small businesses is personal service. People like dealing with people. Sadly, your success can kill off one of your great selling points.

For example, a small, independent hairdresser will take the time to learn how to get your hair just right. Success will mean new hands on the scissors and driers as new staff come in and the process of getting to know your style will have to start again – if you don’t just head off for pastures new.

Handling this transition is vital to the success of small businesses who are growing and CRM can play a part in keeping things personal as you scale up.

Relationship marketing for small businesses

Relationship marketing came about when businesses realised that regularly returning loyal customers were worth more than new buyers. Marketing is targeted at people who are already on your side rather than just thrown out into the ether.

CRM software helps automate, analyse and maximise these relationships. It’s the sort of thing you do automatically when you have the time to greet every customer by name and know just how they like things. Look at the way big businesses try to personalise their services, they know how much customers value a genuine relationship.

CRM is not one size fits all

Good CRM will find customers you already have but for whom you can do more.

CRM should find out who your best customers are and reward them with the best offers, strengthening that relationship.

Once you know what your existing customers are like you’ll be better equipped to find people like them and to know what to offer them to come on board. Targeting like this saves time and money.

When you know your customers behaviour you’ll know how to fit in with them. When is it convenient to contact them? You’ll build trust and a genuine relationship. Good CRM should be mutually beneficial.