“It doesn’t matter how we capture the information. It’s what we do with it that matters”
In days gone by, business owners used alphabetically-arranged index boxes or cabinets filled with files that contained some standard business information about clients; phone number, address, job title and the product or service we supplied to the client. By far and away the most important information we captured was all about relationship building; spouses name, children’s names and ages, birthdays, what sports our client followed and their favourite teams, favourite drink or even how they liked their steak cooked, to name a few!
Knowing their favourite drink always came in handy at Christmas time when we decided whether to send a hamper or a nice bottle of red, and we never forgot to address a card to the whole family on a personal basis.
The ‘Old School’ client relationship management (‘CRM’) system and process was also to make notes on a client file with their frequent purchases, the date of recent contact, what was new in their family life, when a follow-up call was required, and when we should meet them for a drink or lunch. No fancy computerised database CRM systems; just a detailed file with an emphasis on personal information, the planned phone call and occasional face-to-face for a coffee… and it worked.
Today we have high-tech CRM systems or complex spreadsheets that can capture and release far more information about our clients whenever we need it, but that can most often as not be characterised by “Garbage in equals garbage out”. The majority of information that we capture is all business related and the most utilised field is the email address, as 99% of our communication is through permission and bulk emailing. Create a template and ‘send to all’… is that good enough? Whatever happened to the personal touch?
As business owners/operators we now have the advantage of computerised client databases, but we need to ensure we are utilising the available information to our full advantage, and for the betterment of our clients and the business relationships. How do we do this? By recording relevant information that will help us to better serve our clients needs and deliver on our promises. Set procedures and guidelines to ensure data is uniform across all entries can ensure ease of retrieval of information, and prevent errors. Setting reminders for follow-up is also key. If you have recorded in your database that a client is working on an ongoing project that requires your products and services, be sure to follow-up or touch base with them on set dates to check on their progress. This builds further upon the client relationship and encourages repeat business.
Rather than viewing your CRM system as a database which must constantly be filled and updated, also consider it as a valuable resource that you can better utilise to the advantage of your business.
Sean McIntyre – Resurg General Manager