Tweak Your Biz » Management » Customer Loyalty – It’s all about CRM

Customer Loyalty – It’s all about CRM




A quick definition!

  • CRM = Customer Relationship Management for customer measurement (software house speak)
  • CRM = attracting and looking after your customers for greater loyalty and profitability(business speak).

I know which I prefer! Smaller businesses can be scared away by big company speak, but CRM is too important a concept for us to ignore.

The key parts!

You satisfy a customer need. Your “CRM” starts before you have even one customer engaged.

The purchasing experience will dictate and determine the future loyalty of that customer. Were they satisfied? Will they give you a thumbs up or a thumbs down on their network?

  • Browsing -The customer has entered your shop, your e-commerce site, your marketing site, your magazine article… whatever their first contact with your organisation happens to be. Examine how you are presenting yourselves to your target base, is it as optimised as you can make to ensure customer engagement and capture?
  • Committing to purchase – the customer has indicated to you that they are interested in purchasing your offering. Have you made this decision process an easy one for them?
  • The purchase – as simple as possible and delivered in as friendly a way. Did the assistant look grumpy or happy? You want your customer to leave your sales point with a good vibe – this will enhance their enjoyment of the product/service offered.
  • Quality -  Did it meet/exceed expectation? Were your customers happy? Did you ask them?

Ok, it appears that I am simply talking about good customer service, but this equates to customer experience and this, in turn, creates loyalty and better sales i.e. the CRM end-game.

“How do I get customer data for my CRM process?”

If you have a system that can capture some of that information for future use, great but it is not mandatory. For many smaller businesses, particularly those that have personal interaction with their customers, the CRM tool is the personal understanding of that customer that is held by the sales man, owner or retail assistant. On-line, your google analytics will tell you how you are doing and where you need to focus.

Often, the interpersonal relationship creates an innate understanding of your customer through the interactions you engage in with the. The trick is to make sure that your business acts on that understanding to engender loyalty.

Embrace the concepts of CRM. Look at your business and see how the concepts can be applied to give you and your customers benefit. In the incredibly tough market, you neglect CRM at your peril.

Don’t fear the language that is used to sell software to big business, understand its message and apply it to your business.

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This post is part of the SugarTone: Sweet Business Blogging Contest.



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The Author:

Budding entrepeneur working on software product solutions for business. My background is mainly operational and senior management roles in mobile telecoms and software houses. Areas of expertise include professional services, out-sourcing, team management and general operations management. I've made the conscious decision to create my own company having spent the last 20 years learning in the corporate world. In my contributions to this forum, I will share some insights and learnings that I've picked up along the way and hopefully they will be useful to some or all! http://www.myprojecttracker.com

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.channelship.ie/blog/ Fred

    Great points Barney. In our case we started using for instance on-deman CRM two years ago but mainly because our customer database had to be somewhere. In this case, the need to have a secure database was not letting us see all the other 100 useful things that you can do with your CRM. We have explored them gradually. Still trying to understand better use of CRMs.

  • Anonymous

    Nice post Barney – CRM is essential for all business. Easy to work the customers you know and who know you that target new biz.

    Had a interesting conversation with my mechanics wife a few months back as she managed all non technical stuff for the biz. She was talking about the high cost of advertsing in a local publication. I asked her if she had a database of all existing customers who had used the service to which she replied no. Crazy that orgs still chase new business when managing existing business is much easier.

    P

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Hey Barney, congrats! another spanking #SugarTone entry – you are a busy bee :-) I am often asked to advise about CRM, for me CRM is about having information that makes having the relationship with customers/prospects better/easier. All too often, CRM is seen as as administration tool/task and this misses the point of what it was meant to do. By the way, there are some cool things happening around social CRM, it’s a space carries big potential in my opinion. Great read! Niall

  • Anonymous

    Great post Barney,

    I often find people shy away from CRMs for two reasons – 1. They have a perception that is costly and 2. They do not understand what CRM is and therefore feel it is not relevant for their business.

    I myself could be with a shake up when it comes to managing my own database. At present I am using zoho.com. What other CRM companies would you recommend for small businesses?

  • http://blog.myprojecttracker.com Barney Austen

    Agree totally Paul. She understood her customer but that is no good unless you capture that somewhere and use it appropriately to develop the business. Thanks for reading.

  • http://blog.myprojecttracker.com Barney Austen

    Zoho is one of the better one’s actually :). There are others out there – but the reality is to use what works for you. Whether that’s a notebook (clunky, but it can work!), a spreadsheet or whatever. The key is to make sure you capture the customer feedback and sentiment in a way that you can then use to develop your business. Thanks for reading.

  • http://blog.myprojecttracker.com Barney Austen

    Hi. Thanks for reading Fred. I would suggest that alot of the time, people buy the technology without really understanding what they want to do with the information. Glad to see you have the former sorted and are working out what to do with the latter :)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the speedy response Barney.

  • http://www.wchingya.com wchingya

    Customer Loyalty – my manager talked about this very often back in my working days. I agree with Niall, many have misunderstood the main concept of CRM but focusing more on the tools they’re supposed to be using. I love the idea of a spreadsheet, simple yet effective. It doesn’t have to be a costly app if we know how to use our limited resources. Another good article, Barney. A prolific writer you are. :)

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

  • http://blog.myprojecttracker.com Barney Austen

    Thanks for the feedback and reading :)

  • http://www.onepagecrm.com/ Michael FitzGerald

    Hi Barney. Good to see your take on CRM. I agree that it’s all about that relationship with your customers. We’ve scratched our own itch in this area and launched our CRM app yesterday http://www.onepagecrm.com/ . Would love to get your comments/feedback on it, since you have an active interest in such systems. I’ve tried to make it 100% customer-centric.

  • http://www.fortysomethingbride.com/ Colleen Cole

    Excellent article on CRM. I’d like to relate a story that happened to me recently, and truly illustrates how CRM is important for all organizations:

    I am the president of a local Toastmasters club, and we just held an Open House, which we managed using online tools. We are lucky that we made that decision. We publicized the event using social media as well as traditional media. A week out from the Open House, we were most of the way to filling the room, then success/disaster struck. We landed on the front page of the local newspaper. Within a few hours we were sold out. By the day of the event, we had as many people on the wait list as we could fit into the room.

    Can you imagine the CRM experience if we hadn’t managed the event by issuing tickets? We would have had 280 people show up to attend an event in a room that held 140. As it was, we were able to collect everyone’s data (we used eventbrite.com) and contacted ticket holders to remind them close to the date and to ask that they let us know if they couldn’t make it. We let them know that the wait list was long, and that we wanted to offer their seat to someone else, if they couldn’t attend.

    20 people contacted us to release their seats, which was surprising, and our no show rate was below 5%. (Astounding for a free event). We were also able to move some of the wait list people to another event the following night, and are working to book another night for the remaining people.

    We also used the tool to contact the wait list people and let them know that they haven’t been forgotten, that we are working on an event just for them, and to invite them to our next meeting.

    CRM isn’t just for businesses, it is for not for profits too!

    If you offer seminars as part of your business, you may wish to look at eventbrite as a tool. It was quick and easy for us to use, and was a no cost tool, as we weren’t charging for our event. We now have a contact list, loaded with 280 names for future events. It was well worth the few minutes it took to learn the tool and use it, and it’s use created a positive “customer experience” where we could have had a disaster.

    [I have no business relationship with eventbrite, it just worked well for us.]

  • Anonymous

    CRM certainly seems to be making a comeback these days. I’ve recently started hearing more about the term Social CRM, and I noticed that Accenture are really starting to push this concept – obviously with a few to getting more consultants off the bench.

    It will be interesting to see if the application of Social Media to CRM will help create a resurgence in this field.

  • http://twitter.com/fredchannel Fred

    Cool post Elli. I wouldn’t be able to simply acknowledge bad times, put my head down and wait for the storm to stop. There’s ALWAYS something you can do to stay ahead.
    I guess the simplest advice, as Seth Godin suggests, is to focus of gifts. If you have extra time or even if you don’t! (make some), invest time preparing pieces of content to give away that reflect your passion and knowledge about a subject. Not only this will make you feel better, but you’ll be constantly developing your skills and staying ahead, visible… so more people can find you :)

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Nice one Elli, I try to keep moving, it’s about getting things done, It’s about seeing what opportunities exist for me now. So long as I can count the small steps, I’m feeling fine.

    “Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies.
    Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies!”

  • Anonymous

    Elli

    Great post. Really enjoyed this. While I always keep moving, I am aware that so does everything around me, so very often yesterday’s aspirations and goals require a tweak or two to ensure success today!

  • Anonymous

    Greg,

    Yes, change is a certainty. Good for you for seeing how everything is in motion and you have the choice to adapt!

  • Anonymous

    Niall,

    Small steps definitely count! Thanks for pointing them out. I think too many of us think we have to do leaps or something equally huge. Love your optimism!

  • Anonymous

    Fred,

    Yes, yes, yes! There is always something you can do! It can be small like Niall described or it can be preparation for movement like you point out. Resilient people are frequently generous because they have the capacity for compassion, empathy, and gratitude.

  • http://blog.myprojecttracker.com Barney Austen

    Super post Elli! In the current climate, it’s very easy to be dragged down by negativity. The point you make on resilience to what I would call the “nay-sayers” is very well made. If everyone listened to them, the business world would have stopped long ago. Like Niall, setting small and realistic goals for my business are what keeps me seeing clearly. Thanks for sharing

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Ironically Elli, I get a lot of inspiration from working with my clients. We never listen to our own advice (which is often the best, as it is always about us) so when I go through discussions and goals and action plans with clients, it’s a great reminder for myself to keep upbeat, focused on resilience and know that things are changing and moving every day

    When I am training, there is a similar effect, but the added bonus of feeling energised after every session. Now that we have less payments coming though the letterbox, every payment is appreciated more :)

    Thanks for sharing :)

  • Anonymous

    Elli creative post – Me likes it!!Like Barney says – I stay clear of the doom and gloom merchants. I mentioned in another post – exercise is powerful, clears my head and provided energy. I am 24/7 alert to new ideas and opportunities….P.S. I am laughing to myself here. Check out my next post. We both have a great taste in music :-)Paul

  • Anonymous

    Barney,

    It is very easy to get dragged down by the negativity when things are in such flux. While the trend is up, it can feel like such a slog through the mud. And yet, we do have control over our choices and our actions. Small is beautiful! Thanks for commenting!

  • Anonymous

    Elaine,

    I got such a chuckle from your comment about not listening to our own advice. Our clients are such wonderful amplifiers of what we need to work on to improve or enhance ourselves.

    Things are changing and moving every day! I would imagine you are a wise and wonderful gift to your clients. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  • Anonymous

    Paul,

    Thanks for your compliments and comment! Exercise is a fabulous way to stay resilient. All those endorphins make you feel so good and capable! Great tip!

    P.S. I can’t wait to see your next post! :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_63QD43RHJI6YPPXPKFSAURZOJI Jasmine Limp

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  • http://twitter.com/jaslim18 Jasmine

    Wow ! You sure have done a great effort putting these inputs about CRM Management Software in position. These information are sure of great help.n

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Satheesh, welcome to Bloggertone! I really like your point about establishing an IT steering committee that approves technology based on the needs of the business and the marketplace. I would envisage that this would be a multi department approach, rather than just the techies? Great post!

  • Facundo

    Hi Satheesh, welcome o board. I was actually looking today at Siemens’ new definition of their Team and solutions as “Business Technologists”. I’d say they see this need for ROI regarding IT and several of the points you raise so they are selling their services very cleverly providing that vision/ guidance that companies who spent money unnecessarily or don’t have that steering team require so much.

  • Satheesh Vattem

    Thanks Facundo. That’s really interesting point you bring up there. I am sure we are going to see a lot of consulting opportunities where some of these companies would start offering IT consolidation services aimed at optimizing IT investments. All the talk about GreenIT is also going to be driving this exercise.

  • Satheesh Vattem

    Thanks Niall. I always believed that Technology is just an enabler of business although it some times opens up new business avenues. But even then technology needs to be backed up with proper business sense. Techies on their own I believe would make fancy systems that just may not have any business relevance. This is actually based on my own personal experience where some of the guys I worked with created an application to capture time sheets of service personnel in a fancy technology and interface that had to be thrown in the bin because the service personnel found the actual process of entering the time sheets was creating more inefficiency :)

  • Satheesh Vattem

    I think differentiation by price is more a strategy for getting a foot in the door for many Indian companies Fred. It worked to an extent where it has become an USP now. But there are Indian companies which operate on quality of offering also. But they do not get attention / get reported as much as the cheaper options. And any company which is evaluating a solution purely on the basis of cost would be aware of the quality implications also I guess. When you buy from Pennys u don’t really expect high quality because the whole business model is based on cost advantage and you are taking the cost route based on certain considerations obviously. And Pennys will have its own set of customers who believe in cost and there would be a different set of customers who would believe in quality who would go to M & S. I believe a lot of companies now realize that they can not continue to keep competing on price alone and they would need to offer more. So you would see the market evolving where I am sure a new differentiator would be found pretty soon. And I believe tools that enable quality output with less costs are what we are moving towards.

  • http://www.bloggertone.com Niall Devitt

    Hi John & welcome to TweakYourBiz. The Costco story is very interesting and no, I hadn’t heard of them before so thanks for the introduction. 

  • http://www.tacticalsalestraining.co.uk/ John Perrin

    Hi Niall, thank you very much! It’s an incredible sales model and it really does make you consider the options for shaking up the standard “business & market models”.  

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    It is so tempting to use models that have existed and been successful previously, far easier than re-inventing the wheel. But John, your point about “being the rival” is the key here. A great book by Oren Harari “Break from the Pack” covers this topic in detail and is an inspirational read for anyone who wants to literally break from the pack :)

    I even attended a business mastermind programme based on this very concept http://smarteregg.com/programmes/break-from-the-pack/

    Welcome to TYB John, great post