The implementation of a customer relationship management (CRM) solution is best treated as a six-stage process, moving from collecting information about your customers and processing it to using that information to improve your marketing and the customer experience.
Stage 1 – Collecting information
The priority should be to capture the information you need to identify your customers and categorise their behaviour. Those businesses with a website and online customer service have an advantage as customers can enter and maintain their own details when they buy.
Stage 2 – Storing information
The most effective way to store and manage your customer information is in a relational database – a centralised customer database that will allow you to run all your systems from the same source, ensuring that everyone uses up-to-date information.
Stage 3 – Accessing information
With information collected and stored centrally, the next stage is to make this information available to staff in the most useful format.
Stage 4 – Analysing customer behaviour
Using data mining tools in spreadsheet programs, which analyse data to identify patterns or relationships, you can begin to profile customers and develop sales strategies.
Stage 5 – Marketing more effectively
Many businesses find that a small percentage of their customers generate a high percentage of their profits. Using CRM to gain a better understanding of your customers’ needs, desires and self-perception, you can reward and target your most valuable customers.
Stage 6 – Enhancing the customer experience
Just as a small group of customers are the most profitable, a small number of complaining customers often take up a disproportionate amount of staff time. If their problems can be identified and resolved quickly, your staff will have more time for other customers.