5 CRM Best Practices for Beginners
CRM is one of those business-y acronyms everyone assumes you know and understand. CRM, customer relationship management, has become a big topic for brands trying to cut through the noise and form deep relationships with customers. Chances are, you’re already doing some version of CRM. Even if you’re a pro at CRM, sometimes a little refresher on the basics can help. Here are some basics for building a CRM system that works for your company.
What is CRM?
Customer relationship management, CRM, is your strategy for managing relationships and interactions with your customers. It’s more than just customer service -- though customer service is certainly part of CRM. When coupled with the right tools, CRM is a powerful driver of a business’s profitability. Adding a CRM system helps your business grow exponentially by tracking your contact history with customers and potential sales leads. CRM tools like Salesforce, Infusionsoft, and Zendesk allow you to keep track of calls, emails, meetings, presentations, and more to help you form a close, loyal relationship with your target audience.
What are some CRM best practices?
If you’re new to CRM, there are some easy ways to start managing customer relationships that will set you up for long-term success. Follow these five best practices, and you’ll see the impact of happier clients, better leads, and more deals closed in no time.
Separate your CRM tool from your strategy.
The right CRM platform is so important, but your CRM strategy is of equal value. Employees will come and go, software will be updated, and new marketing channels will be added. The one thing that should always stay consistent is the value you place on every customer interaction. This is where your CRM strategy plays a major role.
Moreover, technology alone doesn’t close a sale or solve an issue: your people do. Maintain real relationships with your customers. They’re more than just entries in a CRM database! Give your team the right training to make sure they know how to resolve issues or answer common customer service needs. Especially if your organization sees frequent employee turnover or runs with a mobile workforce, a consistent approach to resolving issues quickly is critical to maintaining good relations with clients.
Find the right software.
The right tool is different for every business so take stock of your organization’s size, mobility, and customer touchpoints when looking for a CRM system. A caveat: as a CRM beginner, it’s a bad idea to start with a complex CRM system that takes hours to install. Instead, opt for a CRM that is easy to use, integrates with your existing systems, and requires little installation or set-up time.
When looking for the right CRM platform, do your research! Read reviews and testimonials before you commit to a product. You’ll save time, money, and angst by making an informed decision that benefits your company for years to come. Similarly, finding the right tool also means choosing a system that is easy for your staff to adopt seamlessly. There’s always a learning curve when using new software. Do your part to make sure the right training is provided to your team to make the switch to your CRM system seamless.
Consider your customers’ pain points.
A great way to build your CRM strategy and shop for a CRM tool is to start from the perspective of your customers. What are the things that frustrate them? What problems do they have that you’re trying to solve? What is preventing them from becoming a loyal, lifelong fan?
Structure your strategy and platform to easily and efficiently address negative customer experiences. This shows you take your clients seriously, and can seriously impact your bottom line.
Integrate your marketing efforts.
Many businesses consider CRM to be a customer service problem or a sales tactic. While this is true, a good CRM strategy can have major impact on your marketing efforts.
Let’s say you run a cafe that receives lots of attention on Yelp (News - Alert). It was a rough week last week, and your new barista accidentally messed up a few orders - resulting in some seriously negative heat on Yelp. One or two angry customers left you a bad review.
Here’s where your CRM tool can be a boon for your online marketing. Move on the negative reviews with an offer for a free cup on the house next time they come by. They can claim their java with a marketing code that you can then use to track and build a relationship with these customers. Having a CRM both allows someone from your team to quickly respond any time a customer has something negative to say online, and then turn that negative experience into a positive one.
Now that you have this data, use it! Keep track of your customer interactions to make customers feel truly valued. If your sales rep recorded a call with a client expecting a new baby, your CRM system should include a note to congratulate their growing family! Each time you reach out to a customer is a chance to make a big impression -- and a strong CRM system is your ticket to ride.
About the Author: Donna Howard is a business consultant working with high growth companies for their business development. She has worked with companies in scaling their business operations from Europe, Asia and Africa.
Edited by Mandi Nowitz