Small businesses are learning that they especially need to focus on maintaining customers. Multiple studies have shown that retaining customers is more cost-effective than finding new ones. One way for small to medium sized businesses to retain customers is to implement a CRM system.
CRM stands for customer relationship management. This process really got its roots in the 1980’s when databases were first starting to really be utilized by companies. Some companies found that they could store basic information about their customers in these databases. This information was very basic for the most part: items like name and address were stored.
As databases and the software to interact with the databases evolved in the 1990’s so did CRM programs. Companies were now able to track more pertinent information about their customers, like needs and desires. Armed with this information companies were able to offer services or products that appealed more to customers. In addition they were able to handle customer support issues more effectively. For example instead of calling everyone Mister or Ma’am they were able to call them by their names, Henry or Kate.
Although these changes don’t seem revolutionary, they had a big impact for some businesses. Knowing what products to offer and how to treat an angry customer makes a big difference.
Those looking for CRM for small business need to realize that CRM is more than just software, it is a mindset. The software is simply a tool that carries out the mindset. A company needs to find out the needs of the customer, and unfortunately software still can’t do this for you.
Sure software can track how many blue widgets John buys in a year and this does give your company some insight into John’s needs. However, you’ll need to go deeper than that in most situations. To find out about John, you’ll want to have him fill out a questionnaire and you’ll want to interact with him using social media. You’ll want to rub shoulders with him and talk to him about his needs. Obviously this probably isn’t possible to do for all of your customers, but you’ll want to schedule time to do this occasionally. If your business is fairly small then have your employees try and figure out what the customer’s are satisfied or dissatisfied with.
There are plenty of CRM packages out there that are geared towards small businesses. Find one that your comfortable with and buy it. Note that a lot of them will have trial versions so you can see if the particular package is a good fit before purchasing.
CRM may have started out very primitively, but that doesn’t mean that your company needs to only track basic information about your customers. Use CRM software to track key metrics about them and use this information to make more sales and keep them happier. However, remember that CRM isn’t just buying software, it’s a customer based decision making mindset. Find out more CRM consulting tips.