Tracking which customer spoke to which salesperson or service representative, and what they wanted, is critical to retaining and growing your customer base. While many major corporations spend thousands of dollars on elaborate customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to take care of those issues, pared down versions of that technology are also available for startups and existing small businesses. Many of them are very affordable, or even free. Here are just three ways small businesses can benefit from a CRM System.

 
Organize, build and keep a current customer database

A CRM system at its most basic is a way to build up a database that allows a small business to organize where its customers are located, what product or service they ordered, what they might order in the future and if they had any issues, as well as resolutions, with the process. It also lets a company know who that customer talked to, which can give a salesperson a leg up in a follow-up courtesy or sales call.

A CRM can also be used to show what products or services current and prospective customers are most interested in. Customer satisfaction is the cornerstone of a successful business, and a CRM can be a great asset in understanding how customers think of a business and indicate what a business is doing right or wrong. The information compiled by a CRM can be made available so that any employee or any department can access it, thus improving teamwork and minimizing the duplication of effort.

 
Direct and manage sales campaigns

Even a basic CRM system will accurately track a business’s sales process. It can keep track of calls, emails, and mailings sent to clients and prospective clients. It can also show what methods have been most and least effective. A CRM can be used to track if and when sales emails have been opened, and if they have generated interest. A CRM can also be used to schedule emails so that they will arrive at what has been shown to be an optimum time. It can also filter through contacts to better generate leads, thus allowing sales personnel to make better use of their time. It can also help ensure that promotional materials and sales efforts are not duplicated, and that a customer does not get information, an offer or a call for something they have already purchased.

 
Find new, keep current and win back former customers

A CRM is a quick, automated and easy way to collect, organize, manage and review information on both current and former customers. It can identify both successes and failures, from which sales and service personnel can develop campaigns to find new, keep current and even win back former customers and clients. A CRM can help identify loyal customers, as well as what has made them loyal, and what rewards or efforts can keep their loyalty. It can also detect patterns that could be repeated or applied to dealings with prospective or former customers to gain or win back clients.

 
 
This article was written by Mark G. McLaughlin for Small Business Pulse
 

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