Everybody tells you that you need a CRM strategy, but nobody explains what that is or how to create one. You’re well-informed enough to know you need to build relationships and focus on customer experience, but without practical advice, those are buzzwords with little meaning for your business.
Here are eight ways you can win with CRM:
1. Know Why Your Customers Do What They Do
If you only ever look at what your customers do, your relationship with them is doomed to be a shallow one. The moment you find out why they do what they do, you’ll start truly understanding your customers.
When you collect feedback from your customers, you go beyond number crunching and ask them questions that can’t be answered numerically.
This is qualitative research and, as Roger Martin writes for HBR, “Qualitative, and especially observational or ethnographic, research enables us to delve much more deeply into the relationship between our firm and its product/service and the customer.”
Though collecting qualitative feedback takes time, it’s worth the investment because it is the best way to deepen your relationship with your customers.
2. Make Your Customers Famous
Lead generation relies strongly on social capital. Yours, your customer’s, and that of each person in your various networks.
Social capital—your status among your connections and within your industry—can only be developed by forming relationships with others and helping to build their social capital, too. In other words, for your customers to become effective brand advocates, they’ll need to have connections who trust them.
How can you increase your customers’ social capital? You can look to Amazon for inspiration.
The ecommerce giant tracks which customers give the most reviews and the most helpful reviews. It displays the top reviewers on a public list and gives them credit for their hard work.
Amazon created a community, rewarded the most active and most loyal participants, and it did so publicly.
3. Always Know More Than Your Customers
One way to ensure large margins is to maintain what behavioral economists call information asymmetries. In other words, you should know more and have access to more information than your customers—at least when it comes to your niche. It’s what makes your products and services worth paying for.
Don’t keep your customers in the dark, though.
Michael Schrage puts it perfectly, “Growing a business based on ‘knowing much more’ than one's clients is different from one in which growth is contingent on one's customers consistently knowing less.”
In other words: your customers appreciate your openness and transparency, so hiding important information from them isn’t a good idea.
4. Customer Complaints Are Gifts
When you get a customer complaint, don’t disregard it or see it as troublesome. Every complaint is a communication of your customers’ needs. There likely is an important bit of wisdom that your customer is passing along to you when they make a complaint.
If they’ve taken the time and effort to communicate with you about a problem, don’t let it go to waste—thank them and absorb all the lessons you can from their dissatisfaction.
5. Continuously Collect Customer Feedback
At every stage in your business development, seek feedback from your stakeholders and, in particular, from your customers. Even seemingly simple feedback from a multiple choice question about your customer’s satisfaction levels can be priceless in helping you to grow a thriving business.
The Harvard Business Review does an excellent job at this. When you visit its website, you are regularly greeted by a pop-up asking for your input and offering a reward for taking the time to complete the survey.
Lean Startup’s author Eric Ries told Inc., “Give people the opportunity to give feedback at every moment--don't make them call up a separate help line but build it into the workﬂow.” That’s sound advice for startups and for well-established businesses, too.
6. Inefficiencies Lead To Angst, Angst Leads To Lost Business
If you let your customers wait on hold for too long or your shopping cart is too complicated you are going to lose them. It’s that simple.
It’s not just new customers you lose, but existing customers, too. How many existing customers do you lose each year for similar reasons of inefficiency?
To avoid this type of customer churn, identify and map your customers’ pain points to find out where your company’s ineffective processes and responses cost you customers. Whatever ways you interact with your customers, from helpdesk support to home delivery, make them fast and painless!
7. Be Both Creative and Data Driven
Data doesn’t guarantee good ideas. Ideas don’t give you quality data. However, put the two together, though, and you get CRM rocket fuel.
Use your team’s creative muscle to brainstorm and develop a whole collection of ideas, implement the most promising on a small scale, and then use data to analyze and focus on what works best.
8. Develop A Loyalty Program
An effective loyalty program has three pillars:
To understand what makes customers choose to use or ignore your loyalty program, you must first understand how they weigh the perceived values of different incentives.
2. Business design
How will your loyalty program drive revenue and growth? Whether you intend to stick to the conventional points system or try a unique approach to incentivization, you can’t get moving until you’ve settled on a viable business design.
3. Experience design
By comparing incentives with inefficiencies, you can design a user experience that’s elegant, simple and rewarding. Once that’s done, make it your mission to give high value and high quality that will keep people using your loyalty program.
For example, let's look at he Loblaws app, offered by Canada’s largest retail grocery chain. It covers all three points: it tracks customer information to learn how they make decisions, it incentivizes, and offers a smooth user experience.
Great CRM uses a combination of common sense, good manners, and the occasional counter-intuitive piece of advice from scientific or statistical studies to create gains for your business.
By managing customer relationships effectively, you keep your brand informed about its customers and your customers enthused about their brand.
With these 8 CRM tips under your belt, what will you do to improve your brand’s relationships with customers?