Online Customer Relationship Management
CRM tools help small business owners manage and analyze customer interactions
Establishing a strong customer relationship is arguably the most important factor in building a successful business. It’s more important than branding, it’s more important than marketing, and it’s even more important than the idea itself. You could have the most brilliant idea in the world, but without customers or a strong following, you’d have no business at all.
Many new technologies help small business owners (SBOs) manage and analyze customer interactions, customer relationship management (CRM) tools being the most popular. It is highly recommended that SBOs look into these new developments to help improve their customer relationships.
What is CRM?
CRM refers to practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle. The main goal of CRM is to improve business relationships with customers by assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth.
CRM systems are designed to compile information on customers across different channels — or points of contact between the customer and the company — which could include the company's website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials and social media. CRM systems can also give customer-facing staff detailed information on customers' personal information, purchase history, buying preferences and concerns.
Many new business owners are using CRM to help improve relationships with customers by adjusting their business models to meet the needs and wants of their consumers.
Entrepreneur Lori King, owner of branding and promotions company loriking.biz, says that she’s explored CRM to help better improve her customer relationships.
Why use CRM?
CRM is an essential tool in the development of a new company. It allows the business owner to gain a better understanding of their customers.
“You need to listen to the client and find their needs,” King says. “CRM can factor in by storing this information for easy recall when meetings come up or when new products come out – and you know, because you listened, that this is something that would benefit your customer.”
Companies from a variety of industries can reap the benefits of CRM, says Kim Walsh, Global Director of HubSpot for Startups. Any entrepreneur, whether they are working in the tech sector or not, has the ability to use and profit from HubSpot’s free CRM software, which scales alongside your business.
Customer service a cut above
“Customer service is the number-one ingredient in any business,” says King.
However, it is important to remember that customer service extends beyond the external relationship. King says that SBOs must train their employees to ensure that their business is providing the best customer support possible.
“Customer service is also internal,” she adds “It is important to support your sales, accounting, marketing teams and their interactions. That kind of training goes beyond the sales floor and shows up in results and how employees treat clients.”
Privacy is priority
As CRM and marketing continue to evolve, business owners must also remember to keep client privacy in mind. “With all this data we store on clients, it’s our responsibility to ensure the safety of that privacy, so using CRM with strong security is important, as well as around your own offices,” says King.
A final word of advice
Network. “CRM (systems) aren’t much use if you don’t have any data to put into them,” King says. “Gather those business cards, talk to your new leads. Get that information to make your CRM work as best as it can, to help you follow up, and to find opportunities.”