CRM Best Practices to Give Your Company the Edge
Gaining a Competitive Edge: 5 B2B CRM Best Practices
In the words of Walmart founder Sam Walton, “Exceed your customer’s expectations. If you do, they’ll come back over and over. Give them what they want—and a little more.”
Although B2B CRM systems came into use in the 1990s, the technology has its roots in the 1970s and early 1980s. That’s when B2B businesses began relinquishing their traditional product-centric focus for the more customer-centric business to consumer approach.
CRM is not a technology term; it simply means Customer Relationship Management. It’s what we do to deliver superior customer experiences. Communication. Follow-up. On-time delivery. Responsive customer service. It’s what we do for our clients—our Number One asset.
B2B CRM systems like Claritysoft make that job easier, especially as businesses race to adopt a high-velocity sales model that’s virtual and digital. But we can’t lose sight of CRM’s origins and the business relationship management best practices that enable us to get the most out of the technology.
#1 Know Your Customers
Maintaining a database of customer information is critical. But the CRM best practice is extracting an understanding of your customers from the data. It’s the 360-degree view of the customer that includes their history of purchases, current relationships and insights into future needs. CRM best practices include:
Going beyond maintaining contact data. Use information about customer buying behavior and business goals to help predict future customer needs, this enables you to provide relevant offers and achieve add-on sales.
Following customers on social media to monitor what’s on their minds. You may get a heads up on a new business direction or early warnings about a problem.
Engaging with your customers on social media to build a more intimate relationship.
Tracking customer issues. What’s their payment history? Has your company resolved customer support problems quickly and successfully?
Segmenting customers by industry, product purchases, business objectives, etc. This will help you reach out to the right customers with future sales and promotional campaigns.
#2 Communicate with Customers
When it comes to communication, your relationship management best practice is a two-way dialog with prospects and customers. In the transactional world of inside sales, email, web conferencing and phone calls replace costly and time-consuming face-to-face meetings. Here are a few CRM best practices that will help:
Replace email blasts with personalized messaging. The more you know your customer, the easier it is to send emails that help move sales and relationships forward.
Use communications to keep your business top-of-mind with customers and prospects. James B. Oldroyd’s lead management studies prove the value of timing your communications: Be first; be frequent. Do this and when people are ready to buy, they’ll think of you first.
Invite dialog. Building a relationship depends on engaging in conversations.
#3 Gather and Use Customer Feedback
Tracking your customers’ comments, complaints and concerns helps you two ways. It enables your business to stay on top of individual support issues and ensures your customers are getting the assistance they need. Also, by analyzing all problems, you can raise company-wide performance. Gathering and using customer feedback leads to better business processes and products.
Best practices in B2B customer service include:
Analyze why customers leave. Look for patterns to address problems that lead to churn.
Create channels for customer feedback and encourage people to tell you what’s on their mind. Then, act on the information and show them that you’re listening.
Track your largest and most profitable customers. What you’re doing right for them becomes the basis of your best practices for all customers. And the features and enhancements they request should guide future product decisions.
#4 Take Care of Your Customers
Well-managed customer relationships boost both productivity and profitability. It’s easier and more cost-effective to maintain an existing relationship than sell a new customer. Your efforts in customer care will keep satisfaction and brand loyalty high. As McKinsey & Company reports, the buying experience is 70% emotional—how a customer feels. Incorporate these customer relationship management best practices into your business:
Keep your CRM system up to date so when employees change roles or leave, their replacements can maintain relationships and retain your customers.
Align your sales and service processes to the customer journey. Maintain consistency in the brand experience. Become a trusted advisor that prospects and customers seek out. Create content that supports information needs throughout the buyer’s journey.
Use your CRM system to empower employees. Make everyone immediately responsive to customers. You don’t need message takers who’ll pass a request along to someone else.
Stay in touch with customers by scheduling regular follow-ups.
#5 Increase Visibility within Your Organization
Today’s CRM systems are not limited to sales and marketing departments. Increasingly, CRM is becoming a company-wide standard. You can create a more consistent brand experience and raise customer satisfaction. When everyone associated with a customer is better informed, you can act like a team. But there are some CRM best practices that can help:
Keep your customer data accurate and current. Bad or dirty data impedes CRM. Have you ever tried driving with a dirty windshield? You can’t see where you’re going. It’s the same with dirty data. So, make everyone associated with a customer accountable for keeping data current and accurate.
Delete inactive accounts.
Clean out duplicate data. Customers and prospects don’t need multiple copies of your emails and marketing campaigns.
Record order, invoice and payment data so you know the status of everything related to a customer.
Track who has received discount offers and the results. You want to find ways to stimulate sales while preserving your pricing.
In addition to these suggestions, identify what your best employees are doing to deliver great customer experiences and make them company-wide best practices.