Customer relationship management, or CRM, is the backbone of most sales and marketing efforts. Way back in 1986, a company called ACT! transformed the sales and marketing world with a revolutionary software tool that basically amounted to a digital Rolodex. CRM has come a long way since then with the advent of complex e-tools designed to find, know and delight customers.
But how can we take all that fancy software and those complex databases to create a valuable, even delightful, experience for our customers? How can we put the relationship back into CRM?
1. Get to know them. One big complaint that comes out of many marketing departments is that people don't fully utilize the CRM tools at their disposal. The beauty of CRM is that you can input details and feedback about your customers as you learn about them. You should capture information about what they're clicking in your site. What do they want to learn? How do they like to learn it? Get into your mind an image of your ideal customer and then create content that they will love.
2. Give them what they don't ask for. Huh? Well, after you know them...after you really understand what it is they want and NEED...you can be innovative. Use those big brains of yours and say, "Hey! Mary Jane Big Time Customer would love this new service (or product...or piece of information...or blog)!" And then give that content to Mary Jane Big Time Customer. She'll know that you fully grasp the struggles of her life, and she'll be grateful. Then she'll tell her friends about you. Trust me.
3. Use positive messaging. In 2013, the NY Times found that people are more likely to share positive content over negative. This completely defies the whole principle the news media developed of publicizing car crashes. Social media has changed the way the world operates on many levels and it seems that they prefer to share funny cat videos or sweet stories of heroism. It follows that they're less likely to respond to messages like "People who don't floss lose their teeth!" and more likely to respond to "Flossing increases overall health!" Use your CRM super-knowledge to transmit positive messages that your customers will respond to. After all, don't you prefer to hang out with people who make you feel good? Customers like to do business with companies who do the same.
4. Acknowledge your customers. If they're having a birthday, send them a note! You know their birthday because it's right there in your CRM database, right? If they tweet about you, respond to them publicly. Acknowledge how important they are by letting them know that you hear them, you understand them and you want to please them. Engage them in surveys or contests. Figure out what communication your customers need to feel valued and important, and then make them feel that way.
5. Encourage them to share. Sharing has been drummed into the human brain since those first playdates with building blocks. Share your toys. Share your food. Share with your brother, your sister, your friends. Let them retweet. Let them Facebook. Let them pin. Let them link. An advertising and brand message Nielsen study indicated that people still trust the voice of their friends and fellow consumers most. Create content that your customers want to share and then encourage them to do so by putting those symbols everywhere. And then track what it is they're sharing so you know what works.
Develop your tools to work like the well-oiled machine they were intended to be. You will find that your customers are thrilled to know that you know them, you like them, and you care about what they need. All it takes is a little CRM work to develop strong, lasting relationships with your customers.
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