Small Business Marketing

Importance of Customer Relationship Management

Written by Amy Bax for Gaebler Ventures

What is customer relationship management? How can small businesses benefit from it? How should entrepreneurs go about implementing it?

It almost goes without saying that customers are one of the most important things to consider when starting a company.

Importance of Customer Relationship Management

Their happiness and satisfaction is what will make or break you.

As such, it is necessary to decide what your sales and marketing efforts will consist of and how they will be applied to your target market. Having an organized way of keeping track and managing contacts and relationships built will help your business to be more effective.

What Is Customer Relationship Management?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is any process a company uses to manage and track their customers in an organized and beneficial manner.

Creating databases or purchasing CRM software helps a company to better keep track of profitable customers, manage and improve marketing and sales efforts, and provide important and extensive information about each individual customer.

This helps a salesperson to customize their efforts for each customer because they have a better idea of what works and what does not. In theory, by making it an experience catered to the customer's wants and needs, the customer should be more satisfied with their experience and continue to use your company for their needs.

CRM systems can be costly, so analyze what your company requires to do business. Smaller businesses are able to purchase a system or database that is relatively inexpensive and easy to integrate into the company.

Larger businesses may want to use a consultant or external company to help them install and incorporate a larger system into the company because of the large amount of data that will be put into the system.

How Can You Make the Most of a CRM System?

Now that you've acquired the customer, you don't want to lose them. It actually takes less effort and is less expensive to retain a customer than to attract a new one. CRM systems are created around this theory.

Communicate the value of building these customer relationships and using the database to your employees through training or a guide on how to use the system to its fullest. Also have your managers continue to encourage and educate employees on updates in the system.

Let employees know how much easier and quicker it can be to prepare for sales calls, generate ideas for marketing campaigns, spots trends in sales, etc. Be free to answer their questions or help them use it. The system is there to not only make customers more profitable, but their job easier. Once an employee understands how valuable CRM systems can be to their job, they will be more willing to participate.

Know the goal of your customer strategy and use the CRM system to reach it. If your customer strategy involves certain levels of customer service or sales goals, take the information and numbers in the system to analyze and extract needed data to give you reports/ideas on how to go forward with campaigns or sales calls based around these factors.

Make sure all of your information is integrated. Installing software or creating a database will not be beneficial if every bit of information is scattered in various departments. This information needs to be pooled together to be efficient and work properly. Also, decide what information is important and what is not. It is not necessary to include every single detail because it will be unused and bog down the system- so pick and choose carefully.

Amy Bax is interested in providing innovative informational resources to entrepreneurs. She is currently an MBA student at the University of Missouri - Columbia.

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