Let the Customer Be Your Guide

It’s been said that he who pays the piper calls the tune. This maxim is especially accurate when it comes to customer relationship management (CRM), which has increasingly become the backbone of organizational success in today’s crowded marketplace. After all, consumers are free to shop wherever they like and, usually, choose to do business with the ones who treat them best. In an age of hyper-competiveness both online and in store businesses must work harder than ever to build customer loyalty and ensure they are a shopper’s store of choice. For small and midsized businesses, this can be accomplished through an effective CRM strategy that’s designed to help small and midsized businesses stand out among the crowd.

An effective CRM must be well-rounded, all-encompassing and properly deployed. If executed correctly, your company’s CRM tools and data should be utilized for virtually every area of your business to drive growth and success. For example, take a look at:

Sales

Did you know that 80 percent of your business’s future profits will come from 20 percent of its existing customers? Statistically speaking, the chances of selling to an existing customer are much greater than the odds of closing a deal with a new one. Whether you’re trying to keep a roster of existing customers happy, or working to bring in new ones, an effective sales team must treat its CRM strategy as its Bible.

Retaining customers means treating them well, ensuring their needs are met, and becoming familiar with the unique challenges and opportunities they’re looking at in their industry. Customers love it when sales folks ask specific questions about previous purchases, remember to follow up on earlier concerns, or reference prior conversations. It helps them feel like they are being heard and their needs are valued.

If that isn’t enough to incentivize you, keep this in mind: nearly three-quarters of customers say they spend more money following a positive customer service experience. Or better yet, a study from Nucleus Research estimates a CRM can pay back up to $8.71 per dollar spent. I’ll take an 871 percent ROI any day!

Marketing

You’ve got to really know your customers to market to them. Not you’re your customers in a general sense, but your actual customers. The customers who’ve purchased, inquired about or even dropped your product or service.

Before embarking on marketing or advertising campaigns, invest some time in learning about your customer base and capturing the valuable information you gather in your CRM. What kind of products are they looking for? What features would they like to see in that product? What challenges are they facing? How can your products help solve them? Delivering marketing strategies with this foresight will help drive sales by ensuring you’re offering exactly what customers are looking for. An effective CRM will house all that valuable data and give the marketing team incredible insight into how they should be targeting and positioning the company’s goods and services to the market at large.

But don’t let data-driven research be your only tool. Engage with customers whether it be in person or on social media and ask whether they’re satisfied with certain products, and how their buying experience can be improved. Log the information you gain in your CRM so everyone at the business can access it and learn what makes the customer tick. Then, develop your marketing campaigns with these engagements in mind to connect with targeted customers in a way that will resonate.

Research and development

CRM data can also be useful for research and product development. Customer feedback can and should help drive developmental efforts in a number of ways. The customer information your business captures can help determine the target audience, identify trends, and provide an objective outlook on the opportunities and challenges both for you and your customers. Gaining a customer’s true perspective ensures developmental efforts are being spent in the right areas to improve existing products (or create new ones) that will meet the changing needs of current and prospective customers.

Conversely, research and product development can also benefit your CRM efforts. Engaging with customers as part of your R&D helps boosts customer loyalty and strengthens sales. Studies show that engaged customers spend more and tend to be more brand loyal. A recent Gallup study showed that business-to-business organizations with high customer engagement scores achieved 50 percent more revenue and sales than those who don’t.

As you can see, investing in a strong and strategically-executed CRM strategy reaps plenty of benefits. But in order for it to be most effective, employees from the top to bottom must understand and embrace its value. Every employee should be an equal participant and everyone should be able to glean value from a well-executed CRM strategy.

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