In the past few years, customer choice has exploded in almost every business sector and industry. From cars to heavy machinery, holidays and travel to pharmaceuticals, we are inundated with choice. There is so much choice; it has somehow changed the business environment as we know it. There has been an inversion of power… 

In this new era, when customers are far more educated about products and services, businesses have begun to recognize the power shift from the seller to the buyer. Good and successful marketing is no longer about helping the seller sell, but rather helping the buyer buy. That requires marketers and business owners to look at their activity with different eyes and that includes looking at their CRM with different eyes as well.

Gone are the days when CRM was a system for managing only leads and sales. Although this feature is still a fundamental part of CRM, today the most progressive and successful companies use CRM as a relationship and loyalty management tool.

The focus of each and every business is to thrive through building long-lasting relationships with customers and a well implemented CRM system will help you do exactly that. Here are 5 proven ways how:

Keep In Touch

Most companies focus predominantly on attracting new clients and nurturing leads, which is perfectly fine, as long as you don’t forget to cater for the people who are already your customers. Do you have a system or plan of communication for the people who leave your sales funnel as customers? How do you expect to build a long-lasting relationship based on mutual trust if you don’t reach out?

I am sure you respond to clients when something has gone wrong but it may be worth sending them other communications from time to time as well. Your CRM is perfect for that task and it should absolutely incorporate a communications strategy. Your customers’ data and contact information, so get communicating. Update them on company news and updates, announce sales and exclusive offers, ask for their opinions etc. Don’t be a stranger!

Compile Data about What Your Customers Want

Gathering data about your audience, prospects and customers is just as important at the beginning of the relationship (when they are about to enter your sales funnel) as it is at the later stages (when they have exited the funnel). Unfortunately, many people forget that. Just because you have some data about a person doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim to expand it.

For one, people’s circumstances change. They change their names, they change addresses, they change their marital statuses etc. Therefore updating the information in your CRM is crucial if you wish to provide a great and personalized service (this is after all one of the keys to success).

Another reason why it is imperative for you to keep on growing your customer data is so that you show your prospects and customers that you care. Little things like, beginning to address someone as Ms and not Miss in your written correspondence after they have married, addressing their specific preferences etc. could and do make a huge impact to the customer.

Ask With A Survey

If you haven’t heard, surveys are an integral part of a CRM strategy and also great for business! Wonder what people think about your product and your company? Why not ask. Ask customers what they want, ask them how you can help, and ask them how you can improve. All this shows that you care and that their opinions matter.

Understanding your customers and improving your offering should be a priority in your business. Feedback holds priceless information, specific to your company that will not only help your business grow but it will also elevate you in the eyes of customers.

But beware that simply asking for feedback is not enough; you have to be prepared to act upon it. Now this is the ultimate token of appreciation of customers’ feedback and is a sure-fire way to encourage them to stay with you. Repeat after me: ‘Your opinion matters to us and we are ready to change ourselves based on your recommendations.’

Make It Easy To Be A Customer

At the beginning of this article we mentioned how customers are much better informed and autonomous when it comes to decision making, than they used to be. So to make this process easy for prospects and customers and help find all the relevant information they may need, make sure you have accommodated them.

Have a sign up page so that people can opt in for communications from you, update your products and service pages immediately when changes occur, have an automated sequence of emails ready for when a prospect signs up or requests information. Basically, put yourself in their shoes and walk the purchase mile for them. At every stage of the process, ask yourself, how can I make this easier for the prospect, what kind of information they might need at this stage, how can I offer it to them in the most convenient way possible.

Reward Loyal Customers

You may have heard that a good loyalty programme has the power to transform a business into a customer-centric profit machine, and yes, it is true. With customers becoming more and more demand and the competition getting more intense, it’s only right that you reward and try to keep the customers who have chosen you.

Showing your appreciation is a milestone to achieving customer satisfaction. Anything and everything from a free white paper or eBook, a free meal for two or even a cruise is up for grabs. It could be big or small, but there has to be some kind of reward.

A well thought out customer reward scheme will help you focus on the customers you already have, extended the period for which they are your customers, and ultimately, grow a stronger relationship and leave them satisfied.

Most companies still operate as if they control their customers, when in reality; it’s the other way around. The only thing within your control is the relationship with the customer. Follow these five steps to optimizing your CRM and you will certainly enjoy better customer relationships… for longer!