Customers are the most important asset of any business—this fact would surely be agreed upon by small and large businesses alike. In today's market, retaining current customers is as important as winning new ones every time. And a successful business is one that can turn its current customers into brand advocates.
Word-of-mouth advertising has gained new importance. Customers now quickly share their experiences on social networking sites, and they possess more power in influencing their peers than ever before. If you can get one customer to "like" your brand on Facebook, you can be sure that some of his friends will follow suit. This is the reason modern businesses are taking customer retention and building brand image so seriously.
Customer relationship management software solutions have grown to become an important business tool for organizations of all sizes. They have transformed significantly since their early days, when a CRM solution essentially meant a contact management system. Though CRM systems still perform the basic functions, they now also offer support to sales, marketing, and customer service teams in building long-term customer relationships.
Customer retention objectives can be divided into two broad categories: retaining existing customers and instilling brand loyalty in new buyers. Following are some features of a comprehensive CRM solution that can help sales and marketing teams increase brand loyalty among both current and new customers.
Advanced search engine. Most CRM solutions now have built-in powerful search engines to help you perform advanced searches with targeted and enriched keywords. Such engines will let you search for your firm's most loyal and profitable customers. Your marketing team can review customer histories to develop targeted marketing campaigns and your sales team can design products tailored specifically for those customers.
Autoresponder. Customers like feeling special. Quick and proper follow-up emails will help create a good image of your company in their minds. Autoresponder is a powerful marketing automation feature through which predefined, personalized emails can be sent to contacts. You can do the following with an autoresponder:
- Send newsletters
- Offer online tutorials
- Send payment or service upgrade reminders
- Create thank you and welcome mails, and more
Email templates. CRM software providers have also integrated predefined email templates for mass emailing campaigns. You can create new templates, delete and modify existing ones. and manage them through email template folders.
SMS/voice/fax integration. To offer improved customer service, you can send SMS, voice, and fax notifications to your customers. You can send product promos, notifications, payment reminders, survey forms, and more.
Social integration. Businesses have realized the importance of engaging customers on social networking sites. A smart CRM solution integrates a company's social profile with the software interface to capture customer reactions across social networking communities. This allows organizations to promptly resolve customer grievances so that they can turn disgruntled customers into loyal followers. Moreover, you can promote new products and promotional offers to engage your customers on social boards.
Self-help desk. Customers are happier when their problems are resolved without delay. Enhance the performance of your customer service team and keep customers happy by creating a smart self-help interface within your CRM solution. This will let your customers solve simple problems by themselves with the help of the instructions offered to them.
CRM can help you identify the right channels that will bring you and your customers close. But it alone can't win you customer loyalty. You would need a strong team to analyze and apprehend the information gathered through CRM to constantly upgrade your products and services. Customer satisfaction doesn't translate into customer loyalty until the relationship is nurtured.
Paul Anderson is a CRM software consultant in California. He has worked with organizations across a wide range of industries for the past five years.