It’s probably fair to assume that when it comes to using CRM technologies to organise customer information, most companies have seen the light. While the first CRM systems were little more than one-dimensional filing cards, today’s systems are clever, agile and customisable. More than just databases, the latest CRM platforms incorporate analytics features capable of:
- Developing deep customer profiles
- Generating valuable insights
- Building customer intimacy across the lifetime
These can then be used to inform a variety of business and marketing strategies.
Similar to other technologies, advancements in CRM capabilities are occurring at lightning speed. It’s easy for those who use them to forget (or not fully appreciate) what they are truly capable of achieving.
To help get the most out of your CRM, here are five best practices worth following.
1. Keep information up to date
CRMs are only as good as the data that drives them. The phrase Garbage in, garbage out refers to the idea that incorrect or poor quality data will produce a faulty output. This is absolutely true of your CRM.
To avoid garbage out, schedule regular reviews to delete useless or inaccurate information. Implement policies that require staff to keep data current, such as by updating profiles after each sales call and removing duplicate entries. Failing to keep data current can have embarrassing consequences, such as sending newsletter subscription invitations to customers who are already subscribed.
2. Understand where and how customers interact with your brand
When, where and how do customers interact with your brand? Examine your touch points (such as your website, mail outs, social media accounts, live chats and sales calls) and ensure your CRM captures useful information from all possible sources. Your business likely makes brief connections with large, diverse audiences across multiple platforms every day. However, this cannot translate into improved services and experiences unless every interaction is:
- Leveraged to deliver better customer experiences.
3. Provide the personalisation that today’s customers demand
Research shows that today’s consumers want personalised, relevant content. If you are still sending generic, open-ended emails to your mailing list, you are missing an opportunity to make your customers feel valued, which ultimately improves loyalty and increases sales. CRM platforms such as Salesforce make it easy to personalise and automate emails, which can go a long way towards improving open and click through rates. It can also help you understand what type of content your customers enjoy most, which is excellent for informing your content strategy and developing other personalised marketing tactics. For more about personalised marketing approaches that work, read our blog post on 5 brands getting hyper-personalisation right.
4. Create a shared repository of data for sales, marketing and customer service departments
Imagine a customer wants to repeat a previous order, and the customer service rep doesn’t have the information immediately available. It’s embarrassing for them, annoying for the customer and potentially damaging for the company. To do their best work, employees need to understand the full picture:
- What did a customer last buy?
- When did they last contact support?
- Where are they sitting in the sales cycle?
When informed, the sales rep can nurture the customer effectively and drive them quickly towards a sale. Transparent data also makes it easy to eliminate pain points discovered through feedback regardless of where in the service chain they occurred. If you’re having difficulty getting staff to use your CRM properly, create a Change Management Plan and enforce mandatory training.
5. Automate customer follow up
Customers are unlikely to remain loyal when they feel dismissed after purchasing. The right CRM platform can make it easy to automate follow up and invite feedback so that future experiences can be improved. You should also do the same following a support query or complaint, to ensure the customer feels valued and is given the opportunity to recount their personal experience. At the end of the day, a business is only as strong as its customer base and the customer base should always feel like they are top of mind. Your CRM can do all the heavy lifting for you by collating and segregating data from each customer touch point, ready for you to interpret and action it. For more valuable insights on building better customer relationships and increasing customer intimacy, download our whitepaper: Digital Trends 2017: Harnessing data to build customer intimacy across the lifetime.