When I was a teacher, I often challenged my students to answer the question “so what?” after they had told me what they had been doing. It was never asked in an aggressive way, more as a way to get them to justify why they had done something or what they thought the benefit was.
Now I am asking myself the same question after client calls! There is more focus and direction as a result, but what is the best way to use and share that information? In business it’s all about the benefit, no point making a call, launching a campaign etc., unless it brings opportunities. I love finding out about my client’s business and what is working for them, the challenges ahead and congratulating them on their successes, but then the question is what to do with it all? Only a fraction of it is relevant for building the commercial relationship, so where to store it, who to share it with?
Who knows all the details about all of their clients? The relationship we forge with our customers is vital, and anything that can assist in developing that is a worthwhile investment. We should not be relying on one person to nurture the relationship; a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution will allow someone new to understand our contacts without much effort.
Some of this entry relates to my previous submission – Why the telephone still matters enormously for eCommerce. Tracking as much as possible the interaction with our clients can really help build that relationship. Simply picking up the phone and talking to a client gives us lots of information but is this documented? Key questions can be answered and recorded, such as: what is their communication preference? Who are the people we can contact? What stage is the relationship at? Of course this doesn’t just apply to those we have a commercial relationship with but even more so with prospects. How have we been introduced to them? How effective was our campaign that got them to talk to us? Whilst these questions tackle a lot of the factual elements of the relationship (prospective or otherwise), an effective CRM system allows this type of data to be managed and acted upon.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a powerful tool that integrates with the Dynamics stable of products to further enhance our ability to create harmonious, symbiotic business relationships. It also allows the business to decide to which customers to give which level of service. Yes large clients and contacts need first class service, but is the ‘bubbly’ flowing for the thriftier client? Revealing a little of my personality, there are two things that bother me as a client (oddly at opposite ends of the spectrum) – getting over the top service and being ignored when I have money to spend on something critical to me. A champagne welcome to a jumble sale is not a wise use of investment, but if I am buying a yacht it’s more likely to be appropriate. I recall talking to a sales representative at a premium dealership prior to a visit and detailing my position (I was already a customer and wanted to upgrade), yet upon arrival no one knew why I was there and had little time for me, nor were follow-ups that were promised achieved. Therefore they lost my custom, I went elsewhere and was given service in line with what I was prepared to spend and I was valued appropriately. Effective CRM is putting the right people in contact with one another, utilising skill sets and building those relationships and adding value.