Let me admit up front. Nobody was talking to me. But strategic eavesdropping has always worked for me.
So when I was waiting in line to order my favourite chicken meal, my ears pricked up when I heard someone say: …she’s making me sick with this CRM! She ain’t know yet how to do customer service?
And in response: her business too small for these CRM and other “big up” things she’s always talking bout anyhow!
Oh no! I started thinking…you guys are getting this wrong, wrong, wrong! You’re getting CRM=Customer Service wrong and you’re getting CRM not being applicable to small businesses wrong!
In that moment, I forgot the scent of chicken because I immediately started smelling a blog post. And that’s what you’re reading right now.
The BIG Question is: What is CRM?
CRM or Customer Relations Management, very simply, is an approach to collecting and analyzing information about your customers (existing and future). This allows you get a better and clearer understanding of who your customers really are and what they want.
You may have come to believe that CRM is a software application or a tool. And there are many CRM software systems ranging from the simple to the complex. But in reality, it is first of all a business strategy which starts with you clearly defining your business needs.
The Next Question is: What is Customer Service?
Customer Service speaks more to how you deliver your products and services, in such a way, as to create the best possible experience for your customers.
And while you can and should leverage CRM to deliver incredible customer service, in order to guarantee the loyalty of your customers, you should not confuse the two.
A simple CRM Example For Your Small Business
So let’s say you’re in retail and you want to deepen the relationship with your top 100 existing customers and at the same time increase the dollar value of their purchases (Yes, You want to!).
You would review information on the products they buy, their favourite shopping days, the amount they spend on each purchase, what they return, etc.
All this can easily be collected from your point-of-sale reports.
You would next acquire products and create services for them which exactly match their needs, instead of trying to get them to buy what you already have for sale.
In this way, you will deepen the relationship with those customers because you have used a CRM strategy to improve your customer service.
A More Sophisticated CRM Example
I know you’re getting the CRM picture but let’s look at a little more sophisticated example.
My supermarket has its own in-house loyalty programme. I have a free card and when I spend more than $X, they swipe my card. In return, they give me some points which I can eventually redeem for items of my choice, within a given amount.
However, I know that just like a private eye, they’re watching me. They’re tracking everything I buy. They know my favourite shopping day and time. They’re always comparing and categorizing my profile with those of other shoppers.
So when they offer specials or introduce new products and I hear other shoppers go “OMG! How did they know this is just what I wanted?” I smile sweetly and silently answer: You told them, Honey!
In reality, they are using CRM software that can store all this information in a readily available format which allows them to analyse it in a myriad of amazing ways.
And when you shop online and you browse certain items, notice how you’re targeted with similar items next time you log in. Or, notice how you’re targeted with ads based on your location? That’s CRM at a very high level.
Here’s How I Use CRM in One of My Businesses
At ITDS, I also use CRM in a way that benefits me along with my clients.
I track how I acquired each client, what I did for them and what I learnt from delivering the service. I then use this information to target new prospects who are closely aligned with my existing clients.
This strategy has many benefits for me including being able to design new products and services for select sections within the group. It also lets me quickly decide if a prospect is a good fit for me.
Of course I started with a spreadsheet before I move to a more sophisticated system.
The world view of CRM
Globally, good CRM systems have helped businesses to discover that the ‘one size fits all’ approach to customer interaction is no longer working. 59% of your customer wants multiple channels of communication – live chat, email, phone.
They also indicate that customers want you to resolve their issues in as few transactions as possible. So, if you play the ‘send the fool further and further’ game with your customer complaints, STOP it now!
And just to really emphasise my point, CRM information reveals that a whopping 70% of your customers abandon the shopping cart when shopping online because of unexpected shipping cost. (I make up that 70%!)
Now it’s over to you!
By now you see that CRM is becoming increasingly important among businesses – regardless of their size. So, if you want to up the ante on your customer service and you’re not doing CRM (you’re NOT?) then the time to start is now.
CRM will actually make your customer service more successful!