Everyone’s looking to develop positive, profitable relationships with customers. However, very few companies are able to do both. Many organizations are often forced to choose healthy or profitable – but there is a way to obtain both. It calls for a killer one-two punch of personal networking and choosing the right CRM software.
The Value of Customer Loyalty
“Customer loyalty and repeat business are the cornerstones of today’s market conditions,” writes Lou Dubois, social media editor for an NBC local news affiliate in Philadelphia. “In the words of many industry professionals, losing a customer is the absolute worst thing that could happen to your company.”
While this is true, far too many businesses put the emphasis on not losing customers – rather than building healthy, personal relationships. They’ve got it backwards, though. After all, a satisfied customer who you’ve developed a relationship with is unlikely to walk away. You need to flip your mindset from “I don’t want to lose this customer” to “How can I build a positive relationship with this client?”
According to data curated by Salesforce, it costs six to seven times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Consumers are two times more likely to share a bad experience than a positive one. And a customer is four times more likely to purchase from a direct competitor if the problem they experience is service-related, not product or price related. Again, you have to find a way to build positive, personal relationships with clients.
According to a CRM case study on MiroMetrica, personal relationships are important when it comes to guiding customers through the sales funnel. “One of the core tenets of good CRM is remembering that the “customer base” is not a monolithic entity but rather is made up of unique individuals, all of whom have their own preferences and points of view,” the report mentions.
While the MiroMetrica case study focuses on the company’s decision to use a service called MyFax in order to gain insights from their customers without tying up customer service agents, the takeaway remains valuable for companies in a variety of situations. Companies must be able to offer personalized attention without overextending resources. In an age of advanced technology and automation, this can be challenging, though.
Ultimately, there are two ways to attack this challenge: (1) personal networking with customers and (2) effective use of CRM software. Let’s start by looking at networking with customers.
Networking to Earn and Retain Customers
Network with existing customers. Network with potential leads. Network with random people. Just start networking! You never know when someone you meet may become your next big customer. If you’re totally unfamiliar and uncomfortable with networking, make sure you get the basics down.
Always acknowledge your strengths, but don’t be the only one talking. Learn to use social networking platforms, but don’t compromise your professionalism by posting controversial things. Make face to face networking a priority, don’t assume everything happens online. There are plenty of do’s and don’ts, but the important thing is that you start somewhere. Strengthen relationships with existing customers and begin building foundations for future ones.
According to Dubois, communication is one of the most important aspects of maintaining healthy, personal relationships with customers. You shouldn’t only call on your customers when you’re looking to close another sale. Communication should be frequent and diverse. Roughly 82 percent of consumers claim the number one factor that leads to an excellent customer service experience is having issues resolved quickly. Communication is the backbone of resolution – so don’t miss this important component.
Top Things to Look for in a CRM Software Platform
Once you’ve developed a plan for networking, you need to turn your attention to the second component of successful customer relationship management: CRM software.
CRM software allows you to grow your business without compromising customer service. It gives you a forward view of your company and lets you effortlessly replicate customer service processes over and over again for consistency and profitability. Furthermore, CRM software gives you insight into who your customers are and how they interact with you. This detailed information could be the difference between losing a customer and retaining one for years to come.
However, not all CRM software platforms are created equal. If you plan on integrating one into your existing customer service framework, here are some things you’ll want to look at:
Price. As is often the case when you’re dealing with a strict budget, you’ll need to start with price. Figure out how much you can realistically spend on CRM software and compare that to the costs and benefits of losing and gaining customers. Before you write off price as a major issue, consider the fact that businesses with more than 15 people could spend anywhere from $500 to $15,000 per year for CRM software. That’s a massive range and demands serious comparison shopping.
Scalability. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to determine how scalable software is before using it. That’s why many prefer to use the QSEM Method, which is a “model-based approach to quantitatively evaluating the scalability of Web-based applications and other distributed systems.” This method uses a seven-step approach and ultimately allows organizations to perform in-depth analysis before committing to a solution.
Reputation. In the CRM software industry, reputation goes a long way. If companies aren’t happy with their provider, they aren’t scared of voicing their opinions. Always read reviews and ask for customer testimonials prior to signing a contract or purchasing software. Here’s a look at the latest reviews.
If price concerns you, or you aren’t quite sure about CRM software yet, don’t worry. There are actually a number of free and open source CRM software solutions available on the internet. Free CRM solutions are actually “freemium” models – meaning you get a set number of features free, but will have to pay for upgrades. Open source platforms are fully functional and totally free. However, you’ll likely need someone to install and configure it before it can be used.
Think About Long-Term Profitability
Ultimately, you have to think about long-term profitability. And if you want to be profitable in the long run, you have to develop healthy relationships on the frontend that not only keep customers satisfied, but also encourage them to continue purchasing goods and services from you. By mastering personal networking and utilizing the right CRM software platform, your organization can work its way to the top.