Customer relationship management (CRM) is a critical function in optimizing a positive customer experience. Businesses must conceptualize what components will closely relate to their customer base and implement target points that will proactively handle the possible customer complaint. Our society, in the 21st century, is based on instant gratification. With Internet access to everything from business services to business products, customers are looking for immediate response and acknowledgement of their needs and issues and inevitably to associate themselves with businesses that will appreciate their patronage and go far and beyond to keep it.
1. Implement a reliable “Contact Us” process: customers that can reach your business quickly to get answers, direction and appeasement are more likely to utilize your company in the future, regardless, if they have had a negative experience.
2. Increase and monitor efficiency: Ensure that you set up a response time that will reflect your willingness to solve the issues in a timely manner. Customers that receive confirmation within 24-48 hours that their issues has been noted and is being handled are less likely to talk negatively regarding your business and whatever their issue may be.
3. Encourage advocacy: Understand that each customer is an extension of you business, a subcontractor of sorts. Word-of-mouth carries a lot of weight and your service or product becomes secondary to a testimonial on how you treated that customer.
4. Select customer-facing employees carefully: Have the right staff in place that can successfully deal with customers in a compassionate and empathetic manner, regardless of the situation.
Optimize customer strategy to increase loyalty
Looking at a business as it progresses through its positive encounters with its customers is one aspect of customer relationship management. How a member of a staff greets you as you enter their office, their politeness over the phone and whether or not they have incentives in place that will entice you into maintaining a relationship with them are all CRM practices that businesses engage in.
That positive reinforcement as a practice of customer relationship management often manifests itself as loyalty. That loyalty is two-fold. The business shows its loyalty to their customers as well as the customer showing their loyalty to the business. In this relationship dynamic the business shows its loyalty by providing incentives such as sales, discounts and possibly a point system process, often found in “key chain” reward cards.
This CRM tactic allows the business to track how often a customer is frequenting their establishment, while the customer is given discounts on services and products or possibly given the opportunity to build points for each dollar spent with a reward system that includes free items.
Transform customer perception
On the other side of the spectrum are the practices in place for those customers that for some reason have had negative experiences with a business. When a business has to react to a late delivery, product defects or even a 'business-to-customer' negative encounter, they are presented with opportunities to enforce a customer relationship strategy that will defuse the situation and still maintain that customer’s business. This type of relationship practice includes listening to the complaint, empathizing with the customer and providing solutions. The response shared allows the business to present itself in a positive and sympathetic manner, letting the customer know that their patronage has importance and is appreciated.
Today’s business market definitely revolves around both the “best customer” and “worst customer” scenarios. For all businesses, maintaining exemplary customer service for all customers will definitely be the difference in the longevity of a business as well as the long-term retention of their customers.
There are so many ways in which a business can retain loyal and profitable customers, provide them with exemplary products and services and offer them as many opportunities that they can to show their appreciation. As a business owner, it is critical to understand and practice CRM in order to successfully thrive in the business arena.
Optimize customer experience to avoid churn
As a starting point, there are a few key initiatives that work in maintaining positive relationships with customers. CRM revolves around the interaction between business and customer and communication.
Today, the key to customer relationship management that will optimize customer experience is definitely to understand that patience is no longer a virtue in the business world. More likely, the new mantra is “Time is of the essence”! Making your customer’s satisfaction number one priority is the key. CRM success should be a long term strategy with a clear focus on customer-centered practices to retain customers and encourage advocacy.