Branding is not just a marketing responsibility; it’s a company-wide sport. Whether it’s positive or negative, any interaction a customer has with your business is a reflection of your brand. Hire the right people, train them the right way, and give them the right tools. This will ensure a great customer experience as well as brand and customer loyalty. One of the most influential customer service tools businesses can use is your CRM.
The days are gone when businesses relied on their CRM to simply manage leads and customers. Today, the most progressive and successful companies are using their CRM to manage the relationship with their customers. They are using their CRM to develop and manage long-lasting positive relationships. Their CRM helps to create the ideal customer experience, while making customers for life. This is only accomplished by offering a positive customer experience through marketing, prospecting, the entire sales process, the sales follow up, and service.
Data vs Leads
Businesses often neglect their customer database and spend too much time, money and effort acquiring new leads through advertising and third-party lead providers. These leads often have very little information, and no exclusivity. If companies focus on only attracting new customers and not their existing customers, they run a serious risk of losing the loyal customers they previously worked so hard to acquire. CRM allows you to capture a valuable database of information to enhance your interactions with customers, and increase customer retention.
Today, we know more about a customer than ever before. We know every call, email, letter, and text that has been sent. We know where they live, their phone numbers, and their email addresses. We know every lead they have submitted, and every product they have ever looked at. We know what products they buy or have previously bought. We know their service history and average repair order cost.
We have all of this data, but are we using it? Do you have processes in place to know and understand who your customers are? You need to access this data to cater marketing and follow-up to your customers with relevant and timely messages, through the customers’ preferred method of communication. Are your marketing efforts aimed at the 2% of people in the market or the 98% that are not?
CRM and Your Brand
Customers are brand loyal because of the quality of the product and/or the excellent customer service they receive. Because customers have many options when it comes to purchasing a product, customer service has to stand out. A perfect example of this is the car industry. With multiple dealerships selling the same cars, the distinguishing characteristic is often how they treat their customers. It’s not so much what they are selling, but how they are selling it. CRM technologies allow dealers to distinguish themselves by the service they provide. Dealers often talk about how they are dedicated to customer service, but applying it is an entirely different matter.
As mentioned before, your brand reputation is based on the relationship between you and your customers. This evolves from hundreds of small interactions (leads, phone calls, emails, visits, service, etc.), and these interactions add up to build or destroy your brand. Since a majority of these interactions originate in the CRM, it is important that the CRM matches the image you are trying to portray. A positive customer service experience must be applied to every customer touch point.
To your customers, branding is largely about faith; believing in something they can’t see, and trusting you when your company says, “We care.” Ultimately, people don’t trust companies; they trust people, making it critical to build this trust. When a salesperson says they are going to call the customer back tomorrow, the CRM needs to prompt the salesperson to call them. If a customer says they don’t want to receive any calls at home, that should be respected. Customers expect you to quickly respond. They trust that when they give you their email address, you are going to give them something of value, not spam.
Today’s customers do not want to be sold. Most often, by the time they’ve contacted you, customers have done their due diligence. They just want someone to engage with, to help them, and to celebrate with them when they make their decision. Customers are more likely to do research on the company’s brand, such as looking at online reviews or social media posts regarding past customer experiences.
Apart from price, why should customers buy from you? It should be all about the experience. With the use of CRM technologies, businesses can better serve their customers, speed up the sales process, and create a positive experience.
CRM Examples that Drive Positive Experiences
The car buying experience for most consumers is not always the easiest and most pleasurable. But today, car dealers understand this. They are starting to use their CRM to “desk the deal” by offering a multi-payments sheet to present numbers and allow customers to choose their payment versus being pushed into a payment. This speeds up the negotiation process, improves customer satisfaction, and helps dealers hold gross.
When someone comes into a dealership looking for a used car, instead of letting them leave, dealers negotiate using their CRM. They search their CRM with the prospect for new vehicles that sold three or four years ago. They offer the owner a trade, a free car wash, or oil change for bringing their car in. If sold, this turns one deal into two.
Dealers are creating customized business campaigns designed to send the right message to the right person at the right time. They integrate sales and service by introducing recently-sold customers to the service department and to their website to set their first oil change. Then they meet their customer in the service drive and ask for a referral.
Dealers are also using the CRM’s data mining ability to find specific customers in an equity position that could qualify for a lower payment by getting them into a new vehicle. This allows dealers to concentrate their efforts on customers that will actually get into a new car, versus wasting time on prospects who are buried in their car’s negative equity.
Dealers are beginning to incorporate a mobile CRM to allow their salespeople to be 24-hour salespeople, where they can enter and follow up with customers, anywhere at any time.
We can’t control every interaction, and negative experiences are bound to happen. But businesses can control how they react to negative experiences. Make sure you have a way to uncover negative experiences through surveys available in your CRM. If your company receives negative feedback, quickly enroll those unsatisfied customers into a campaign that notifies them when you correct the problem, and immediately reach out to resolve the customer’s issue.
Communication is key to great customer service. Surprisingly, these customers become some of the best customers after you spend time listening to them and resolving their issues. Learning from your mistakes is an important aspect of good customer service. Documenting heated issues in your CRM helps to ensure you don’t make those same mistakes again.
Reward Loyal Customers
Do you know your most loyal and long-standing customers? Use your CRM to identify and segment these customers to receive notifications when they call or visit your business. Create a customer appreciation campaign to thank your loyal customers and reward them for their repeat business. Offer discounts to entice them to continue to do business with you. Offer incentives for their referrals. Invite them to special VIP events, such as new product introductions or a customer appreciation party.
Using a CRM will help your business stay connected to your customers and ensure you’re proactive in maintaining positive relationships, and not just responding when something goes awry. Your CRM will take you to the next level when combined with marketing, branding, and customer satisfaction. Your business will be much more efficient when you use your CRM for more than just a storage bin for contacts. Fully utilizing your CRM to manage the relationship with your customers will create a better overall experience for your customers, increase your customer satisfaction, and ultimately grow your brand.
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Image source: flickr.com/autohistorian