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Q & A

The key to good customer relationship management

Alan Joenn of CRM experts Collier Pickard on how to keep your customers close​

Customer relationship management (CRM) allows growing businesses to improve customer loyalty and maximise sales by systemising the way they collect customer data. It is all about making it easier for your customers to do business with you, as Alan Joenn of CRM experts Collier Pickard explains.

What is customer relationship management?

Alan Joenn (AJ): “CRM is about systemising the way you manage your customer data so you can provide a better service, increase customer loyalty and make more sales. A good CRM system enables you to capture and share the essence of every customer interaction.”

What can CRM achieve?

AJ: “Customer relationship management can do two things: improve the efficiency of your processes and make your people more effective at what they do. If you have one person who solely deals with customers they know well, they’re not likely to ‘drop the ball’. But if you have many people dealing with multiple customers, you need a customer relationship management system.”

Don’t you need to be a big company to have a CRM system?

AJ: “Not at all. You could be a five-person business but some of your staff, in finance or deliveries, for instance, may not be able to share important customer information.”

How does CRM help to improve customer service?

AJ: “Customer relationship management is about offering one-to-one marketing, even if your business is growing. Your customers need to feel that they’re being treated as an individual, even if you’re doing things at scale. CRM is not just about recording customer interactions; it’s also about profiling and segmenting customers in a way that makes it easier for them to do business with you - not the other way around. That’s the goal of customer relationship management.”

How does CRM improve sales?

AJ: “Customer relationship management provides instant understanding of your customers’ needs and allows you to target your customer communications to get results. For instance, with a CRM system you could divide customers into two types - your valuable customers - those who spend 100% of their budget with you - and your ‘growable’ customers - who might spend 25% with you and 75% with your competitors.

“You need to show your valuable customers that you appreciate them and reassure them that they’re getting value for money; you can’t up-sell [persuade a customer to buy something else or more expensive] or cross-sell [get them to buy other products or services from you]. But with your ‘growable’ customers there are opportunities to win them over by identifying their ‘pain points’ and offering them solutions.”

When should you invest in CRM?

AJ: “Without doubt, growing businesses hit a point when they need to bring in some kind of customer relationship management system. But that point is different for every business. We’re working with a Yorkshire firm that uses various systems to collect information, but difficulty accessing that data is holding them back. With customer relationship management, you can make all that available in one system that is available to everyone who works for you.”

How do you select the best CRM software?

AJ: “The CRM software market is very mature. Lots of the products have been around for years and most of them offer a similar features and functionality. They all offer a customer database, customer profiling and targeting; they help with sales forecasting; they enable you to devise marketing campaigns; they improve your customer service and they all have great dashboards. The main software solutions on the market tick all of the boxes. So you need to look at the people behind the software and assess how well you can work with them.”

Is CRM only about technology?

AJ: “No, customer relationship management is about the culture you adopt internally. Whatever system you use, you have to make it work for your business. There’s so much you can do with CRM - but you can’t point someone at the moon and expect them to get there straight away. CRM is very much about taking one step at a time. And that’s why finding the right people to help you is more important than the software you choose.”

  • Written by freelance business writer Rachel Miller.

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Building customer loyalty

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