This article was written by Stephen Merrill, Chief Operating Officer at contract manufacturer Dynamic Blending.
The customer is always right. Know your audience. Build a community. Be authentic. You’ve heard all the cliches in customer service. It’s obvious that customers are the lifeblood of any company, but what is less obvious is how to go about creating and maintaining a relationship with each and every customer in the finite minutes of a day.
Building strong relationships can lead to positive word of mouth, more customer loyalty and even increased revenue. To do that, it’s vital to find a good system that does the heavy lifting. A customer relationship management (CRM) solution can make the difference in long-term success or failure. Every customer is different, so each interaction must be tailored to the needs of the individual—and in our world where technology is rapidly rising to meet the needs of businesses everywhere, a good software solution can help make that possible.
The best CRM tools help a company stay organized, save time, guard sensitive information, and, mostly importantly, create happy customers.
Let’s break it down:
1. Stay Organized
Choose a CRM system that keeps track of EVERYTHING. Missing details means missing opportunities to impress your customers. Capturing that key information, on the other hand, can drastically improve business. A single dollar spent on customer relationship management has an average return on investment of $8.71. Why? Because the right tools organize every transaction and lead.
CRM tools can capture purchase history and personal details that assist in marketing strategy. A step beyond that, consumer history records like service calls, warranties, contract negotiations and demographics are all useful in maintaining a strong relationship.
Truly efficient eCommerce brands should expect the same level of customer service from their vendors. A manufacturing partner has a wealth of useful data that can be integrated into customer relationships: status updates, individual ingredient sourcing, certifications, and shipment projections.
2. Security Is A Top Priority
Having access to customer information is key to facilitating strong, positive relationships. On the flipside, consumers do not give out their data lightly. A security breach that leaks personal details, credit card information, passwords, etc. is a disaster for any company, so the CRM used must have top-notch security safeguards in place.
The real costs of a data breach are enormous, and they go up every year. The average cyber attack costs a business $200,000. For small businesses, this is generally an insurmountable obstacle, and 60 percent close up shop within six months of a data breach.
This doesn’t account for less tangible losses, such as customer trust and loyalty. The minute their data is exposed, most customers immediately view their relationship with the offending company as damaged. Many individuals will not stick around to see if the problem occurs again. Recommendations will go down, new business will be harder to come by, and the bottom line will suffer twice over.
It’s easy to see why security should be at the top of the list for any CRM system.
3. Spend Less
Although a good CRM tool will undoubtedly cost a significant amount upfront, in the long run, software of this kind helps businesses spend less. Less time, less money and less energy go towards managing relationships on an individual level.
The corporate world is always moving towards more automation. For CRM uses, automation works for customer outreach, billing, marketing, and a myriad of other things. With these tasks outsourced to a computer, small businesses can avoid paying a separate employee or use precious billable hours to accomplish the same amount of work.
CRM software can also offload business-to-business (B2B) relationships. Invoicing, automatic check-ins, alerts when products are behind schedule and more can be resolved within the program, freeing entrepreneurs to do what they do best.
4. Everyone Wins
The perfect management system doesn’t feel like a burden to either side. Everyone gets access to the info they need without it being overbearing – not too much communication with consumers, but enough that they remember the brand and purchase new products.
In the search for the perfect CRM tool, it makes sense to ask questions from both sides. Will this save the organization time and money? How can the data in this system help further the company vision? How will customers react to requests for information? How much control do both sides have over when, where, and how personal data is used? The answers to these questions will help firm up whether a solution is right for any given brand.
There’s no doubt that an automated CRM solution can make customer relationships run more smoothly. The right kind of software can properly store and manage information, keep that information safe, save time and money, and make consumers feel special all at the same time. Working towards these strong, long-term customer relationships should be an urgent goal for every business owner, whether they are just starting out or on their seventh business venture.
Stephen Merrill is the Chief Operating Officer for Dynamic Blending, which was Inc.17 of the Inc.5000 in 2020. He is an experienced financial analyst & general manager with a demonstrated history of working in the cosmetic & logistic industries. Skilled in negotiation, business planning, retail, sales, and team Building. Strong operations professional with a Master’s Degree focused in Masters of Science in Financial Analysis from Purdue University.