By Natalie Burg
What's your small business CRM strategy? For some small businesses, the answer is as simple as, "I smile when they walk through the door," or, "I answer the phone when it rings."
Undoubtedly, both are fine ideas. But for small businesses that have used customer relationship management (CRM) systems to manage their interactions with clients, things are changing. Tools that can tell you which customers have purchased what, how many complaints they've made and how they've been managed are starting to evolve along with technology—just as technology is altering what your customers have come to expect. Here's how:
1. CRM customization
Traditionally, CRM software has been used at desks. But what about when sales staff is on the road using smartphones, asks Anthony Leaper on Forbes? "How do you distill the functionality originally designed for keyboards and screens ... into an interface that is the size of a deck of playing cards and can understand what you say to it?" he writes. "If you think about prioritizing a CRM system for presentation on a tiny screen, it quickly becomes obvious that different people are going to need different bits of information and access to different tools." This means each unique business requires a customized system. Instead of presenting you with a one-size-fits-all CRM, cutting-edge developers will figure out your needs and personalize a system for you.
2. CRM via social media
By now, it's well known that social media isn't a passing phase for business. In fact, integrating social media into CRM practices is so accepted that it even has its own acronym: sCRM. And businesses are jumping on the concept. "Quirky outdoor outfitter Moosejaw not only encourages its customers and fans to interact with the company via Facebook and Twitter, but they’ve also created communications programs and established a rewards program that ties an individual’s transactional activity to his social web activity," writes Killian Schaffer for Mashable. "Several hotels have been inviting guests or offering upgrades on rooms based on their high Klout scores, and therefore their increased ability to influence others. Similarly, PR agencies have been forging relationships with key influencers via blogger outreach programs." The idea of sCRM goes beyond writing posts and updates and actually captures your customers' identity info, tracking their interactions with you online.
3. Smart CRM
Sound complicated? It's going to be, continues Leaper for Forbes: "'[S]mart' is really the key. The CRM systems of the future will be much more dynamic, anticipating the kinds of information I need, knowing how I’ll want that information presented ..." he writes. "It will be monitoring news feeds for information about my key customers, crowdsourcing, aggregating, and distilling information so that I can be aware, when I need to be aware, of issues and opportunities that bear on my relationship with my customers."
Wow. That is smart.