Customer relationship management does exactly what it says on the tin: this is the process of managing the relationships with your customers so that they will be more likely to buy from you in future. Often this term is used synonymously with customer relationship management tools (CRM). These have a lot in common with Lead management software, which in turn is is essentially contact management software (CMS) or an autoresponder but with added features that let you see the demographic information about your contacts and even things like lead scores.
Some of the best lead management solutions will integrate with your ecommerce platforms and even your website, allowing you to see which of your visitors have opened the most emails and what they’re interested in buying. You can then automatically send out emails that offer special offers or follow up messages to your most engaged and qualified leads.
In the case of customer relationship management, this means looking at which customers have bought the most from you and potentially even which have left the most good feedback and therefore are the most likely to respond well to subsequent marketing techniques.
Another great method you can use here is to use remarketing which is a simple process that will allow you to market to the same people who have already looked at your items in the past. Google actually provides this service through its AdWords advertising platform – allowing you to show ads for specific products to users who have previously viewed those items in your store.
CRM software is also very useful for sales teams, where it is often used in order to help make sales go more smoothly. In order to make a sale, it often helps to develop a rapport and a relationship with the customer. This way, you can call and ask them about their recent holiday, or ask them about how they are enjoying their new position at work. These kinds of details would be impossible to remember for a HUGE list of contacts, but with CRM software you can ensure you have all those details to hand in-front of you when you make the call.
In this scenario, the term ‘customer’ more broadly refers to clients and contacts within larger organizations. Normally a sales team selling – say ad-space on a magazine – will sell by calling up a ‘buyer’ within an organization. That will be their point of contact and that will be the person who is effectively treated as the buyer.
Similarly, CRM software can simply be used as part of your exit strategy. When you sell a business, you are effectively selling your assets. This is going to mean that you are selling the brand, the office, the staff and website or even physical location.
Meanwhile, managing the contacts and maintaining positive relationships with your customers is what is going to give that contact list its true value. A list of cold numbers is not going to be valuable to anyone conversely.
If you’re looking for the CRM software, then you might consider something like Volusion (www.volusion.com) which will allow you to combine your email marketing, your ecommerce store and your sales page all in one package.
Other CRM packages include Salesforce, Zoho and Pipedrive. For most internet marketers though, you will be able to get away with using a regular autoresponder which will let you keep track of your email subscribers and then send messages out to all of them or just to select members. You’ll also be able to keep track of engagement by seeing which users open the most messages or click on links. That way, you can then message the specific users that have the best looking lead score with your attempted conversion.
The best CRM can only do so much though. Customer relationship management doesn’t only refer to the actual software but also the way that you handle your customer interactions in order to create life-long, loyal customers that are going to pay for your services or products over and over again to earn you the best CLV (customer lifetime value).
So how do you improve customer satisfaction? Simple: you focus on delivery.
In any business 'delivery' is one of the most important parts of your service and is the point where you seal the deal and make sure that people want to buy from you again. Delivery doesn't just apply to warehouses and online stores but is important for any kind of business - even those that provide a service. What delivery really means is the speed and efficiency with which you fulfil your commitment and the way you present the work you have done or the product you are providing. In the case of a B2B accounting company, delivery might mean the speed at which you get the figures in, the way you communicate with your clients and the way you present the numbers.
Of course, delivery does also mean actually delivering physical packages and if your business has a warehouse or some other collection of stock then it's crucial that you make sure you handle this part of your service well. Otherwise you might find that your customers are unhappy with the overall service they receive even if they were satisfied with the product itself. An unhappy customer will not only be unlikely to use your business again in future, but they may also spread the bad word meaning that you actually lose out on even more business as a result.
Fortunately, there are a few ways you can improve your customer satisfaction as a result. For one, you should make sure you are using warehouse software in conjunction with your CRM – or other forms of management software. This will allow you to keep tabs on the status of your stock so that you know at all times what you have in store and where to find it. In turn this will enable you to complete more orders on any given day and thus reduce delivery times. It will also mean that you waste less money on lost stock and damaged items and that you know when you need to order or manufacture more of any given product.
For companies selling products, another important factor here is how you go about actually delivering the parcels, which is most likely to be handled by a logistics company. Make sure that you use a logistics company that you can trust and work closely with them to optimize their delivery process. Likewise, you need to think about how you are optimizing your organization and delivery from your end - using warehouse management systems for instance can help you to eliminate situations where you send items to the wrong address and thus save you a lot of money and embarrassment.
Similarly, you should invest in the best possible packaging to keep your items safe and secure in transit and to demonstrate that you value your customers. In short, you should see investments aimed at improving your packaging and delivery as highly worthwhile in the long run.
For those companies that aren’t physically delivering, you need to think about the customer experience and how that could be improved. This might mean considering a few different things:
There are other things you can do to further give your customers a satisfying experience. One thing an ecommerce store can do for instance is to give your customers the ability to track their order and to provide a helpline to help track down lost orders. If there are any problems, you should also make sure to go out of your way to make up for them - see these mistakes as an opportunity to prove yourself rather than a problem and be willing to make a loss for this particular transaction as it will serve as a loss leader for their future loyalty.
Likewise, you should also aim to give conservative predictions for when you think the delivery date will be. By predicting that your parcels will take longer to arrive, you can ensure that your customers are more likely to be pleasantly surprised by your business rather than disappointed and let down.
Including extra gifts is also a great way to make your customers happier with your service and to exceed expectations and again it's worth eating into your profit margin slightly here if it means you get more custom. If you sell screen protectors for your tablets for instance, why not throw in a free stylus? It will cost you barely anything, but the good will it buys you in return will be priceless (discount vouchers for future purchases are also a brilliant option as they will give shoppers incentive to come back as well as wining you friends). Aim to exceed expectations and you will find your customers come back time and again.
This is what is known as ‘overdelivery’ and again, it applies to all niches and industries. For instance, if you are selling a coffee, a simple example of overdelivery would be to add some little chocolates on the side. Giving mints with the bill is another classic example.
For instance, you can provide a more conservative delivery estimate on a product for free. While the quality of your service doesn’t improve, the perception of it will improve and that will boost your customer experience!
Ultimately, the key is to focus not only on the product or service itself but how it is coming across to the customer and how you are keeping them engaged… or otherwise!
Don’t just think about making the best product or service and then keeping the costs down to improve your profits. Think about the experience your customers are having from the moment they learn of you to the final delivery… and the next one!