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CRM for Small Business Owners

By Special Guest
Robert Cordray, Community Contributor
August 14, 2017

Maintaining relationships with customers and clients is essential in any field, form, or size of business, especially small business. Because small businesses obviously pale in number of customers to mid- to large-sized businesses, retaining existing customers is essential to success. Marketing is often overwhelming, difficult to understand, and expensive. Effective mass advertising is nearly always out of small businesses' budgets. Designing, manufacturing, and paying for end caps and product displays in stores and supermarkets is usually too expensive as well.

Together, these difficulties necessitate small businesses to rely on customer relationship management tools and techniques.

Without investing in and implementing an effective CRM application, your small business is unlikely to succeed. Included are several tips, tricks, and strategies that every small business owner should implement to achieve a reasonable shot at success. Stable small businesses, as well, almost always need effective customer relationship functions to grow positive reputations and of meaningful size. Keep in mind that a whopping 91 percent of businesses with more than 10 employees utilize these CRM applications, whereas only 50 percent with 10 or fewer employees do.

Importing customer information from external sources

As with many aspects of life and business alike, beginning to use an app is often more difficult than other steps. Relationship management systems automate marketing, help employees follow up on potential leads, send out emails, and virtually anything else related to communication. These CRM tools generally offer additional features depending on the particular program. As such, relationship management systems rely on this information.

Most relationship management systems import data from spreadsheets, email accounts, and other on-computer storage systems. However, nearly every system is not compatible with importing customer contact information and other pertinent data from physical documents. Depending on the number of customers your small business has, potentially extensive data entry may be required to get your CRM app up and running. Don't get discouraged, and do put in as much effort as necessary to enter your business' entire sets of data.

Integrating computer-based systems with (CRM apps)

An important feature of many CRM programs is their compatibility with mobile devices. You and your employees can communicate with customers at home, at lunch, or when otherwise not around company computers. Reminders can be set and sent to employees to follow up on leads. Phone calls, emails, and text messages can be routed directly to devices pre-approved by your business, giving employees the ability to connect with customers around the clock.

After implementing important customer data, your customer service app of choice will be updated with customer information. Now, your computer-based programs on all work computers will be synchronized with approved mobile phones, allowing employees to work wherever they choose, whenever they need to. Having your business' CRM application is essential to appropriately, meaningfully connecting with customers.

Establish and implement workflows

Given your small business has more than one employee, particular tasks will be delegated to specific employees. Many customer relationship management tasks work best when several employees carry them out sequentially. For example, one employee may call a customer on the phone and ask them questions or offer them promotions or deals. Another employee may publish and communicate marketing emails to that customer. If both employees perform these tasks, your business may seem as if only one person works there.

Use computer programs -- most preferably your small business' new customer relationship management application -- to detail these workflows and delegate tasks to employees. Without having a definite workflow plan in place, your employees are likely to not perform all tasks, not carry them out in their entirety, or perform them more than once. These goofs, gaffes, and mix-ups will cause your business to miss out on opportunities or annoy customers, likely both.

These CRM system techniques and tools are undoubtedly likely to help your business succeed. Customer service is essential to maintaining healthy customer relationships, resulting in positive word of mouth and reviews online. Marketing is made easier with customer relationship applications, as well, because employees are reminded of necessary functions, if not having them performed autonomously by your customer service system. Whatever trade you small business operates in, utilizing an effective customer relationship management function is made easier with a top, effective, easily-implemented CRM app and synchronized desktop program.

Edited by Alicia Young
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