The recent explosion in the popularity of handmade and customized goods is unsurprising. It’s the consumer’s somewhat predictable response to a market inundated with mass produced, generic items that fail to express individuality or make a buyer feel special in any way.
The desirability of unique goods has much to do with one of our most basic psychological needs, a sense of identity. If I make the decision to spend money at your company, at the very least, I expect to feel that you acknowledge me as an individual and that you are willing to communicate with me as a person and not as a number on your contact list.
It’s this need that is driving a revolution in the way that savvy companies are thinking about CRM and the “customer experience”. Research recently published by Gartner suggests that CRM applications will be one of the primary drivers of the increase in software spend throughout 2013 and into 2014. It’s fast emerging as the top software investment priority.
Key to this growth is a revised definition of CRM. One that takes advantage of the myriad new media options available to develop more meaningful customer relationships. So what has CRM become and how can you stay ahead of the curve?
Don’t just talk, engage.
With the rise of social media, engagement with your customer base has become more accessible than ever, but this certainly doesn’t mean that more of us are doing it correctly. Successfully engaging with your customers hinges using the right channel to share relevant and valuable information and making it easy and worthwhile for customers to reply and interact with you. Whatever channel you use to talk to your customers, make sure it allows them to talk back.
A need for speed.
Immediacy is a luxury that we have become accustomed to, so much so that leaving customers waiting for information for even just a few minutes too long can be a deal breaker. Consider the time value of the messages you send and pick your channels accordingly. Use SMS, for example, to send time-sensitive alerts and service updates and use email when communicating longer messages or when sharing images.
Relationships, not transactions.
Key to building customer relationships that transcend simple trade is offering value, over and above your product or service. Maybe you have access to important information that you can share with your customers? Perhaps you could use existing resources to enrich or simplify their lives? Something as simple as a quick SMS warning of low stock levels or a delivery delay can circumvent frustration and go a long way to making customers feel appreciated and cared for.
CRM has become about so much more than answering phones and making deliveries on time. Now customers expect to feel acknowledged as individuals and communicated with on their own terms. They want personalised, relevant information, and they want it immediately.
You can meet these new demands by pairing the right messages with the right channels, by adapting and learning from relevant customer feedback and by equipping yourself with the tools needed to accurately monitor and report on the success or failure of your customer interactions.