Now’s the time to connect with past customers

CRM isn’t just about database software. Customer relationship management is a key business practice that should be ingrained in your processes and your staff.

Times are tough for small businesses right now. The stats show more are going under each month and redundancies are being made in businesses big and small.  When business owners and management are under stress, the temptation is to bury one’s head in the sand or pedal faster rather than smarter.

But think again. How about utilising some good old fashioned CRM (customer relationship management) strategies to get things back on course? You may be surprised at how reaching out to old friends who have done business with you before, may be prepared to help you now.  So I suggest it’s time to reconnect with all those customers who haven’t heard from you for a while.

So what is CRM?

Customer relationship management is the management of all your data, relationships, interactions and communications with those you communicate with on a daily basis. The best CRM systems are fully integrated into your business and make communication easy.

The system should hold the details of everyone who is important to your business – your customers, prospects, suppliers, media, influencers, potential, past and current employees. An effective CRM system can track sales, provide personal details on each contact and even help you manage events, sales promotions, campaigns and newsletters; everything involved in communicating with your customers.

CRM systems have evolved over time from simply being a database of customer contact details, to having a focus on relationships. The technology is evolving to support interactions and not just provide facts about them. It can integrate the sales, marketing and customer service functions of your business into one, accessible function.

Your database is king – CRM should rule

Your database of past customers remains one of the single most important assets in your business.  Knowing this, it is surprising how few businesses have a process that maximises and manages client relationships effectively.

With the emergence of social media tools, we have new ways of communicating with our target audiences. While we can tweet and blog and interact, LinkedIn remains the most direct database function for business. But what about traditional CRM solutions?

When I started out in my profession, my boss had a rolodex. Remember the Filofax? Laugh you may but I would hazard a guess that those old fashioned ways of communication were sometimes better managed than some of our sophisticated computerised solutions today.

The fact is today there are no excuses for poor database management – except perhaps for lack of discipline and human tardiness.

  • Great article. It does amaze me how many small business owners don’t keep a track on the customers & suppliers details. Just a simple way to systematise how often to contact customers could get so much repeat business and help your business in these tough times.