Nurture Customer Relationships Using CRM

The information sitting in your customer relationship management (CRM) software contains a goldmine of tangible data that you can use to nurture customers into lifelong partners. Unfortunately, too many organizations focus on CRM data during the pre-sale phase of the customer life cycle. Relegated to being a prospecting tool, sales teams often view CRM as hungry monsters that they must feed data to continuously. The result is missed opportunities to make connections with customers that can generate not only repeat business but new sales from referrals.

The Power of Emotions to Build Customer Connections

Research reported in the Harvard Business Review points to the value of fostering deeper connections with customers through “relationship intelligence,” using data from CRM systems to gather cues about the emotional reasons customers have chosen your brand. Emotional intelligence carries far more leverage than financial, bottom-line service levels. In a study by Seo and Barrett, the emotions of 101 stock traders were tracked; the research found that those who experienced the strongest emotions had higher investment returns. The reason is that emotions help us to prioritize facts and data so that we can make better choices.

CRM systems are full of data gathered from summaries of sales calls, social media posts, emails, and chat sessions with customer service teams. This vast intelligence is rarely used to its full potential. When CRM data are used beyond the prospecting stage, that use is often limited to drip marketing campaigns that push out promotions according to a set, prescheduled marketing calendar.

Gathering Relational Intelligence

Scheduled marketing campaigns are, without a doubt, a good use of CRM data, but as Peter Drucker said, “The aim of marketing is to know the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.” You can use CRM data to go deeper and discover the emotional bonds you have with your customers—and then create your planned attack with drip marketing.

So, how can you use CRM data to understand and employ customer information to build stronger relationships? The tools can include surveys to dig deeper during customer interactions; the key is to ask the right questions. The opportunities to learn more about customers can come from multiple sources:

· During prospecting, record the key challenges each customer faces and where their priorities are.
· Encourage customers to post pictures of themselves using your product on social media to learn how your products and services change and enhance their life.
· Track the keywords prospects use when searching for information that leads to your website.
· Continually ask customers for feedback.
· Pay attention to the reasons customers call for service.
· Monitor the social media channels where they are engaged.

The key is never to stop learning about your customer and to keep the channels of communication open so that you can collect information about your customer and are intentional about using this information.

Putting CRM Data to Work

You can put this knowledge to use by determining which relationships offer the greatest value and why. When you understand your customers, grouping them in segments based on why they choose to buy from you, you can begin to use CRM to build consistent, creative communications that strengthen this bond.

CRM systems can gather data and analytics tools provide the ability to analyze these data, but you still need humans to make the connections with customers. The clear message is to extend CRM data beyond the sales team, past the prospecting phase, and to share CRM insights with the marketing, public relations, and customer service teams as well as executives. Information is power. Use CRM data to help empower everyone to create a customer-focused organization.