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00736r96_blog_image_644x300Eleven CRM Best Practices

Eleven CRM Best Practices

Following are 11 CRM best practices that can help organizations – specifically their marketing, sales and customer service departments – do just that.

1. Make sure your customer data is reliable and up to date. 

A CRM system is only as good as the data that’s in it. So constantly make sure any data entered into your CRM system is accurate – and regularly review and scrub customer data, to eliminate redundancies and ensure the information (e.g., the customer’s name, address, preferred method of contact and purchase history) is up to date.

2. See that everyone who interacts with customers knows the history.

“Know the customer’s purchase history,” says Mark Draper, an independent project management consultant experienced in CRM. “It is important to have a detailed summary of the customer’s purchase history including dates, quantities and terms. Customers will often want to repeat a previous order and nothing looks as bad as not knowing what and when.”

Similarly, it’s important for companies to “know the past issues/problems with the customer and how [they were] resolved,” he says. “Most customers want to continue working with you and want to be able to convince themselves that past issues/problems have been resolved and will not happen again.”

3. Know how and where your customers are interacting with you.

“Today consumers can reach out to a company via email, social media, chat, bots, or the tried and true phone call. If [a] company really values [its] customers, [it] will be there,” wherever “there” is, says Mayur Anadkat, vice president, product marketing, Five9, a provider of contact center software. “Furthermore, by understanding their customers’ preferences, history and context at all points in their journey, companies can really engage with their customers at a personal level. It shouldn’t matter where a customer is reaching out from. By implementing the proper infrastructure a customer will experience the same great service every single time.”

“Engage with your customers where they already are,” says Eric Bensley, director, Product Marketing, Salesforce. “In today’s hyper-connected world, every company is expected to provide a seamless, omnichannel service experience. And customers want to engage with brands where they spend their time – whether that’s Facebook Messenger, Twitter, video chat or in-app,” he says. “Companies that engage in these channels not only create loyal, happy customers, [they] can leverage these service interactions to get even smarter about their customers.”

4. Understand where customers are in the purchase process/cycle.

“People buy when they’re ready to buy, not when you’re ready to sell,” says Clate Mask, cofounder and CEO,Infusionsoft, a provider of sales & marketing software. “By using a CRM tool to organize and analyze lead data, you can determine who is a hot lead, and who is in need of nurturing so you can guide them towards making a purchase.”

“With a CRM you are able to track where someone is in the sale funnel but also view previous consumer data for your clients,” says Michael Heiligenstein, marketing manager, Fit Small Business. “If you have a product that has a fixed or even semi-predictable life cycle, you [can] estimate when the consumer will be purchasing again. Then you can use your CRM to schedule a follow up exactly when they’ll start considering another purchase.”

5. Provide the personalization customers crave.

“Sending relevant, personalized emails based on timely and accurate customer data can increase click-through rates by up to 50 percent,” says Jason Rushforth, vice president & general manager, Customer Experience Business Unit, Infor, an enterprise software company specializing in CRM. And “with geolocation, sellers can send personalized messages and offers to customers as they approach a store location.”

Similarly, “delivering personalized website content and recommendations based on data from all of a customer’s interaction channels, both online and offline, improves engagement rates,” he says.

6. Eliminate pain points.

“Get serious about fixing the things that frustrate your customers,” says Robert Wollan, senior managing director, Accenture Strategy. “Over half of the top 10 most frustrating customer issues are the same as they were over a decade ago.  Customers actually make it easy for brands to identify frustrating experiences if they are paying attention and will do something about it.

“Complaining on social media about poor experience is the norm for 44 percent of U.S. consumers who admit taking to social channels in order to vent,” he says. “Negative experiences can directly impact profitability and quickly send loyal customers to a competitor. Companies that build great customer relationships address poor experiences and fix them so they don’t happen again, to ensure customers get the experiences they want and deserve.”

7. Don’t underestimate the value of human interaction.

“Human interaction is a vital component of customer satisfaction, even [or especially] in the digital age,” says Wollan. “Eighty-three percent of U.S. consumers say they prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels to solve customer services issues and get advice. Yet many organizations are cutting back on exactly those type of experiences in favor of digital,” he notes.

“Many [companies] wrongly assume that their digital-only customers are their most profitable, and customer service is a cost,” he continues. “Consequently, they over-invest in digital and lose their most profitable customers – multichannel customers – who want experiences that cover both digital and traditional channels.”

8. Ensure that customer service representatives are well-trained.

“The first line of contact for a customer’s service experience in a multichannel environment is a company’s customer service representatives,” says Lara Ponomareff, customer contact practice leader, CEB, a best practice insight and technology company. “So it’s critical that reps are trained and trusted to be problem solvers, not just call takers.

“Train service reps to actively listen to customers and ask questions,” she says. “That allows them to gain critical context for a customer’s query or problem and create more tailored solutions for the customer. By listening, the rep gains the insight needed to make customers feel that their problems are being resolved. Rep training can be a real value-add and strong customer retention strategy.”

9. Have your sales, marketing and customer service departments share customer data.

“While it can take time to create a shared repository of data between sales and marketing [and customer service], you’ll gain the ability to understand your customer’s actions and preferences better than ever before [if you do],” says Swann.

10. Be mobile.

“Implement customer support software that can be accessed across multiple devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to enable mobile support anywhere there is an internet connection,” says Robert C. Johnson, CEO, TeamSupport, a provider of B2B customer support and help desk software. “This mobility enables teams to respond quickly.”

11. Follow up with customers.

“Follow-up is key to building a lasting customer relationship, and it doesn’t have to be a hassle,” says Mask. “Automating customer follow-up can deepen a customer relationship by allowing you to send timely and relevant information to the right people while you stay focused on running your business.”

By Jennifer Lonoff Schiff

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Successful business meeting with handshake: customer and client.CRM: 10 Ways to Do It Right

CRM: 10 Ways to Do It Right

It’s one thing to have a database full of customers, but it’s another thing to have a database full of customers who actually like you.

Successful customer relationship management is all about getting to know your customers and creating a personal relationship with them that goes beyond a few Twitter promotions.

The idea is to make your customers want your product because you sell it, and not simply because they need it. This kind of brand loyalty goes a long way and it’s definitely something that you have to invest sufficient time and resources into building. Once you’ve built that kind of community around your business, you’ll reap the rewards in the long run.

If you’re still in the ‘dating’ phase of your customer relationship development, that’s perfectly fine – as long as you’re on the right track.

Here are 10 ways to know that you’re doing it right.

1. You Know How To K.I.S.S

‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’. If you know how to do this, then you’re well on the road to CRM success. Many smaller companies get carried away with their first CRM system and end up choosing a tool with a ton of unnecessary features. Talk to your team first and figure out what you actually need from your CRM, before choosing one based on what you think you need instead.

Once your CRM is up and running with the least possible hassle, you’ll have much more time to dedicate to your customers. I recently wrote a post that will help you to avoid the 10 most common pitfalls when choosing a CRM, check it out here.

2. You Understand The Importance Of Birthdays

It doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s always nice to get an unexpected ‘happy birthday’ on the big day. This is a tiny piece of information that you can easily obtain from your customers when they sign up, but it’ll have a huge impact on the status of your relationship. A quick ‘happy birthday’ email or birthday discount will really add a personal touch to your communications.

3. You Provide Your Customers With Quality Content

If you want your customers to trust you then you have to provide them with knowledgeable and credible information. It’s important to show that you have an in-depth understanding of your industry and all of your content (blog/social media) should be created to meet the specific needs of your target audience.

4. You’re Psychic

Well, not exactly, but you do know what your customers want before they contact you directly. How? You simply gaze into your crystal ball/computer screen and do some social media monitoring with a handy tool like Social Mention or Hootsuite.

This is the best way to find out what your customers are saying in real-time; to collect valuable insights into market trends; and to get involved in online conversations about your business.

Also, if an issue does present itself (i.e. an unhappy customer on Twitter), you can nip it in the bud before it escalates and use that info to improve your offering overall.

5. You Care About Your Customers

If you want your customer relationship management to work, then you have to work at it – and this means listening to what your customers needs and fulfilling those needs. What itdoesn’t mean, is bombarding them with irrelevant sales pitches and promotions every day of the week.

As great as you think your product/service is, it’s useless if it’s not useful to your customers.

Interact with your target audience, listen to them, and make them feel valued. What are their pain points? What challenges are they facing? What do they need from you in order to overcome those challenges?

If you work on really understanding your customers, it will make all of the difference when it comes to selling your product – because you’ll be armed with the information to ensure that it meets their expectations from the outset.

6. You Never Compete On Price

A sale achieved by competing on price is always a short term win. Your customer won’t see the true value in your product/service and will jump straight to the next lowest bidder.

If you really feel that your pricing is alienating some of your customers, then you can think about providing another version of your product/service with less features. This is the only advisable method to reduce your pricing. Never compete on price – it just doesn’t work.

7. You’re Different

You need to be able to vocalize the benefits of your product or service to your customers. It’s not just about what your product/service does, it’s about what it will do for them. This is the part where you really need to blow them away and set yourself apart from your competitors.

8. You Say Thank You

Sure, it’s the polite thing to do – but it’s also the profitable thing to do. Customer loyalty programs are a proven way to retain and grow your business; in fact, 62% of Millennialssay they’re essential.

By rewarding your customers for their support, you’ll also improve and solidify your relationship with them in the long run.

9. You’re Consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to managing customer relationships; your customers need to know what to expect from you and it’s your job to set those parameters.

For example, if you’re firing out 3 newsletters one week and none the next – then you’re not being consistent. It’s important not to spam your customers but it’s also important to communicate with them on a regular basis.

10. You Keep Your Promises

If you say you’re going to resolve a situation within a certain time period, then do it. If you say you’re going to call a customer back within a certain time period, then do that also. It’s crucial to follow through on any commitments you make to your customers if you want to gain their loyalty, trust, and business for the long haul.

Treat Your Customers The Way You’d Like To Be Treated

The most important thing to remember is that your customers are real people and they have specific wants and needs that they expect you to fulfil. If you can do this, then you’ll build customer relationships that last a lifetime – or at least until you retire and move to Barbados.

Do you have anything you’d like to add to the CRM tips above? Why not share them with us in the comments section below.

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