Do you know your customers?
Who are your customers? What keeps the loyal ones coming through your doors and attracts new ones? With a small customer base, you may be able to keep track of each individual's wants and needs; however, as that base grows, you'll find it more and more challenging to know every single one of your customers, and to provide each of them with that “something special” that separates you from your competitors.
That's where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems come in. Knowing your customers gives you the ability to maximize the profits you derive from your relationships with them. CRM systems use information technology (IT) to help you establish and manage these relationships with your former, current and prospective customers, such as contact and account information, purchasing history and preferences.
Good CRM systems can feature technologies that will enable you to:
- create and analyze data on your customers - including those that are most profitable
- develop marketing and communications strategies based on your customers' preferences
- enhance and improve customer service and online ordering systems
- analyze current and future revenues
- track sales leads
CRM systems come in many different forms, from out-of-the-box software to online versions that make use of cloud computing. If you're considering implementing a CRM system in your business, you will want to do your homework and understand how different CRM systems work, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.
For more information on customer relationship management, check out our section on Sales and customer relationship management.