Small Businesses – Benefit From Customer Relationship Management Principles

Ironically, Customer Relationship Management principles evolved from larger, product-focussed corporations trying to emulate the personal relationships small business owners had with their customers. The larger organisations honed these customer-centric principles and management practices to a fine art, using them to fuel rapid growth and increased profits. It is now time to bring these CRM principles full circle, so your small business can benefit.

After working for many years in the Australian Financial Services Sector, developing and implementing CRM, Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence systems, I have come to learn just how effective they can be in transforming a business in terms of increased sales, increased profits and more loyal customers. Not to mention the associated cost savings to the marketing budget. It all adds up to a positive and significant difference on the business’s bottom-line.

And while the actual high-end systems these large corporations implement may be a tad outside the budget reach of many small businesses, it is important to remember that it is the principles and practices that make CRM what it is and these are readily accessible by small businesses everywhere. There are four key steps any small business can apply to create deep and meaningful relationships with their customers.

1. Identify

It is extremely difficult to maintain a relationship with someone you can’t identify. You need to be able to ‘know’ each of your customers across all of your contact points. You need to collate each of your clients details (as much as is legally allowed) and as many of their contact details as possible – including their preferred method of contact. If yours is a business-to-business entity you need to be identifying both the business details, the executive details as well as your main contact details. Collating this information, allows two important things to happen.

The first is it provides the ability to communicate with your clients, which is the power behind successful CRM. Using communication as a means to first add value to your clients’ busy lives and then to build trust. Finally it is used to generate customer loyalty – possibly even to create Advocates, who will tell their family and friends about your business, your products and their positive experiences.

It is also important to remember that communication is a two-way street. It provides a means of capturing your ‘customers voice’ so that you can obtain actionable insights to develop innovative, market leading value propositions for your business and its products.



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