As an entrepreneur you will always need to be in contact with your customers. You want to ensure that everything your company does related to customers is on the highest possible level. You want to be sure they are satisfied because of your activities. You want to expand your business with new customers, contacting your potential customers.
How you can do this? It seems like a simple task. But, in the reality it is not so simple.
Customer Relationship Management Definition – What is CRM?
It is hard to have a definition that will cover everything related to customer relationship management. The term cover topics related to marketing, sales and analytics. So, as a first when I want to describe to my clients what exactly customer relationship management means I use the word process. Yes, I want to give much broader description related to this term. Only in such a way we can cover everything that your company is doing related to customers.
So, as a first thing customer relationship management is a process inside your company. You are implementing this process to better manage relationships with your customer. That means that this process will have practices, procedures, strategies, and technologies. They will be used from your company to manage and analyze customer interactions and data in the period of customer life cycle.
Having this in mind, customer relationship management will focus on:
- Data collection from internal and external database that will need to be organized in the right way so you can easily access and analyze them;
- Interactions with customers as any type of contact you are making with them. This include interactions before they become your customer until the end of your collaboration with them.
- Analyzing of each interaction will give you insights about the results of your efforts related to the customer relationship.
- Improvement of the next interactions will ensure continuous improvement of the process in your company.
Customer Relationship Management Strategy
You need a strategic approach when it comes to customer relationship management. The strategic approach means that you will know:
- What you want to achieve?
- How you can achieve that?
- How you can continuously improve your relationship with your customers.
Having this in mind, ask following questions:
- Who are my target customers? Always start with your target customers. You don’t want to lose your time in managing relations with customers who don’t matter for your business. From the starting point focus on your most important customers. They are persons who will help your business to make exponential growth. For example, you can say that your target customers are young persons who work for strong companies. They are persons with larger salaries that want to solve specific problem that your company’s products solve.
- What are my goals related to the relationship with them? Next, when you know your target customers think about the goals you want to achieve managing relationships with them. Is it sales growth? Is it retention improvement? Is it improved relationships? These are most important things you will need to translate into SMART goals. For example, the goals can be to improve customers satisfaction for 30%.
- How I can achieve that goals? Now, it is much easier. Start brainstorming all things you will need to do to achieve goals related to the relationship with your customers. In most of the cases, you will have two general activities when it comes to customer’s relationship management. They are interactions with customers and learning more about them from all possible available data.
- How I can put in place systematic approach in achieving those goals? When you know what you need to do to achieve your goals, you can start creating processes. These processes will shape your customer relationship management efforts in your company. Put all your activities on a piece of paper and start connecting the dots. The useful tool here can be Scapple app. Doing this you will come to more ideas how to improve all things related to better customer relationship management system in your company.
- How I can continuously improve relationships with my customers? And the last question you will need to answer here is related to continuous improvement. Because you already have your process maps related to your customer relationship management system, think about including checking points (as quality control and feedbacks) that will enable continuous improvement.
When you have the right answers on these questions, you will need to create a plan about your customer relationship management. The plan doesn’t need to be something complex written on 50 pages. It can be the list with the bullet points you will need to implement in the next period of time.
Customer Relationship Management Tools
Now, you have a strategy for customer relationship management system you are trying to integrate inside your company. The next question is what tools you need to use to succeed in the implementation of your strategy?
One of the biggest mistakes I have seen entrepreneurs make is their whole focus on the tools instead on the strategy. Why? Simply, because they think that if they find the tool (technology) they will succeed. But, in my practice it is not true. It is not true because different businesses have different customers. Even in the same market or industry they have different customers. They have different needs, wants, habits… In such a case you will always need to do something different from your competition.
As I already mention at the beginning of this post, customer relationship management will need to focus on data collection, interactions with customers, analyzing of each interaction and improvement of the next interactions. So, as you can see you don’t need some specific tool to implement this in your company. You can use what you already have in many cases as I have already explained how to use Gmail as a CRM tool when it comes to collect contact details and make notes about interactions with each of the contacts.
You can also use Evernote. For example, if you don’t have too many customers you can create a notebook related to customer relationship management. Each note will cover all data related to the specific customer, interactions with them and results from each of that interaction. You can also create one note as a table of contents note where all your note titles with customers will be linked from that one note. Probably I will write more about Evernote as a CRM tool in some of the next posts.
For analytics purpose, you can use Excel or anyone spreadsheet tool. You only need something that can give you possibilities to calculate basic statistics with data collected as a part of your customer relationship management efforts.