Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is at the heart of all customer-focused businesses. Repeat business is important to most businesses, and maintaining positive relationships with customers is vital in helping to maximize the amount of business transacted with them. Maintaining good relationships with existing customers is also a form of indirect marketing, as existing customers are then more likely to recommend the business to others.

Tracking Customer Contacts

An important aspect of CRM, is tracking and logging all contacts with customers and prospective customers. The nature and outcome of all contacts should be monitored to identify areas of potential conflict before they arise, and to understand which contact experiences customers are happy with and which ones may need adjustment. Follow-up calls to customers after any support or service interaction must be sensitively managed, as it is possible to annoy customers by initiating too much customer communication.

Staff Development

Staff need to be aware at all times of the prevailing business culture regarding customer relationships. A key area to look at is the development of communication skills. This is particularly important in businesses employing technical support staff. It is important that technical staff, who have one-to-one contact with customers at times when customers are experiencing problems, understand the importance of maintaining a positive, personal approach in all dealings with customers. Understanding how to resolve the technical issues that the customer may be experiencing is important, but supplying the customer with a positive experience may be the difference in retaining the customer and the customer looking elsewhere in the future. All staff who come into contact with customers or their representatives should receive ongoing training in the development of interpersonal skills. Be sure to let all staff know that every contact with a customer or potential customer is a possible sales contact.

Define A Customer Experience Strategy

Defining a customer experience strategy involves identifying the level of service the company expects to provide to its customers. For example, a customer experience strategy might include the goal that there must be a response to all customer complaints within a certain time, if the complaint could not be resolved with the initial contact. Another might be to ensure that customers deal with one particular person in the resolution of all issues, or the processing of sales and delivery of goods and services. Staff should be made aware that the defined customer services policy is important to the business, and not an optional set of guidelines. The customer policy must be effectively communicated to all staff at all times, and staff should be encouraged to participate in the development of customer experience stategies, bringing the results of their experience to the process.