(Customer Relationship Management)
If you are in a business or organization in which repeat business with people who have already used your product or service is a goal of yours, this topic will help you.
Implementing a contact management program (which I use as a customer database) into my business has had an undeniable impact on our profits, customer communications, and efficiencies. Previous to using a database, my system consisted of filing receipts and entering basic information into an Excel spreadsheet – which is the least you should be doing if you are not going to use a CRM.
The benefits of using a database are as follows:
· Target market for events – I can send emails or direct mail to customers when I’ll be at an event in their area. Often it will include a promotion such as bring or mention this coupon to receive an extra 10% off your order at the event.
· Invite service call requests from customers when I know I’ll be in their area. A service call provides the opportunity to catch up with them, gauge their satisfaction of the products, and offer new or additional products.
· Query wish lists and promote sales of those items. When I visit with a prospect or customer, we make a list of all of the products they have interest in. After they finalize their order (or don’t make a purchase that visit), I enter their “wish list” into the database. When a special promotion of that product occurs, I can get in touch with the customers who showed interest in that particular product and let them know of the sale.
· Since a database comes with the ability to query, I can run a report (for example) of the top 20% (most loyal, most purchases, or highest amount purchased) and do something special for only them such as a customer appreciation day, exclusive sale offer, or a gift sent to them.
· Keeping all notes and history of communications in one place. Each time I, or one of my employees, communicate with a customer, it is listed in the system. Any one of us can access the web-based system from anywhere and see the notes on the account. This usually helps the customer feel taken care of, cared for, and that it’s a more personal experience than just being the next caller on the line.
Recommendations for Characteristics of a Database
· It has fields to keep ALL of your customers information – name, address 1, address 2, email, phone1, phone2, phone3, referred by (personal referral, event, or marketing source), type of customer (business gifts, residential, etc.), what they own, when they bought, how many times they’ve purchased, etc.
· Keeps ALL notes on them (notes you take that you think will be helpful to know in the future) – other customers they are friends with, stuff going on in their lives (weddings, births, anniversaries, etc.), things they asked you to follow up with them about, any issues they are having with their products, and their wish list.
· Keeps history of your contact with them – each time we talk, email, text, etc. a note goes on their account. Any returned direct mail or address issues. Any time we are going to talk to them in the future, we can review it and be knowledgeable.
· Field for their current status – Prospect, customer, service request, etc.
· It is web-based – if you have employees, it helps for everyone to be able to access it from where they are and have the info update in real time.
· Multiple user access – if you plan to have employees helping you, this is nice to have. We can run an activity report and see what work has been done in the database filtered by employee. If they had to sign in as you, or share one sign in, that information wouldn’t not be as easy to distinguish.
· Ability to query – quick queries to find one customer and more detailed query when you want to find a group all belonging to a certain characteristic or multiple characteristics. I.e. all service requests in a particular area, all customers who made their first purchase with you at a particular event, or all customers in a given zip code or within 30 miles of a zip code. (and then the ability to export that query to a spreadsheet – which we often are sending to our printing company when they create mailings for us, or give to our employees for a project, or to create emailing lists we use for our email platform)
Having a database or CRM system is a win-win. You have a platform of organized, easily accessible information and your customers are taken care of in a personal and professional manner without having to repeat themselves when sharing important information. The only down side is the expense of having such a program, but so far, we have realized greater profits because of the system even when taking the added expense into account. *I currently use the AddressTwo platform.
Some CRM programs to check out: