Building and maintaining a relationship with the customer is a complex process. That’s why the range of available tools for Customer Relationship Management is a lot bigger than just the CRM system. What is the influence of, e.g., loyalty programs or email and content marketing? How are the various social-media channels being used?
The term CRM
The term Customer Relationship Management is used in different ways, and thus it has a number of different definitions. Customer Relationship Management is a strategic aid that can provide organizations with a number of key advantages when it comes to all aspects of customer relationships.
A sound strategy is the basis for successful relationship management and CRM. Without a good strategy in the area of relationship management, the various activities in the field of CRM will never achieve the maximum result. It may seem obvious, but for completeness, we are also listing this vital tool.
Communicating with the customer is a continuous process. Communication with the customer may occur either on the organization’s initiative or on the customer’s. Communication is therefore a strategic tool for success with relationship management and CRM. How do we, as an organization, want to communicate with the customer?
Strategic deployment of marketing has more goals than simply cross-selling and upselling. How the organization communicates with potential customers is a determining factor for the further development of the customer relationship. Consequently, creating unrealistic expectations can be fatal. And even after the relation has become a customer, they’ll still get to see the organization’s marketing expressions. Confirming the existing image of the organization will create trust and loyalty.
Marketing is a broad field, and it offers several more opportunities in the area of relationship management and CRM:
* social media and social-media marketing
* email marketing
* content marketing
* loyalty programs
Social media and social-media marketing
Social media and social-media marketing give the organization the opportunity to get in contact with the customer, and vice versa. With the help of social listening, it also gives organizations the opportunity to gain greater insight into online customer behavior. How do customers talk about the organization online? What issues are occupying the customer online? How can any problems be solved and opportunities be exploited? How do we want to reward ambassador customers? These are just a few of the issues in the area of relationship management and CRM that are considered in the context of social media and social-media marketing.
The use of email marketing in conjunction with the CRM system (email integration in CRM software) is a powerful and personal tool. The benefit of this one-to-one communication with the customer is clear: the content can be tailored to the needs and wishes of the customer and thus make a valuable contribution to the building and maintenance of the customer relationship.
Content marketing increasingly finds itself in the realm of inbound marketing, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting or relevant. How can content contribute to the customer relationship? Content can be used to support successful email-marketing campaigns. Indeed, without content, an email has no substance. It can also be applied on demand. Content marketing can answer customers’ questions on blogs and in articles, and thus show understanding for the customer’s situation. Finding an answer to a question on the organization’s website creates trust. Even if the customer initially asked the question to Google and landed on the website through the search results.
X is an organization in the service sector. X has explained that it wants to be experienced as a helpful organization by its customers. Thought leadership is one of this organization’s goals. Thought leadership must confirm the customer’s choice of organization X. The buyer persona is a sole trader — a professional who’d rather focus on his work than on all kinds of other entrepreneurial issues. Consequently, the package of services offered by organization X is focused on giving this sole trader peace of mind. Organization X’s blog, then, reveals answers regarding many (current) issues. Has government policy changed? The blog explains in clear terms what the consequences are for the sole trader.
It may sound a bit old-fashioned: stamps and stamp books for existing customers. But loyalty programs can be designed in a variety of different ways. The combination of Customer Relationship Management and loyalty programs can be a powerful tool in the area of relationship management and CRM. The challenge for marketers is to let customer loyalty programs be more than a simple email campaign that targets the customer’s birthday. Use loyalty programs to show understanding for the customer and their wishes in a way that suits the individual organization and its products and services. The MailPlus blog features a number of interesting examples that may inspire you (Dutch link).
It goes without saying that this customer-facing department can play an important role. This is after all where complaints come in, and smart organizations see complaints as an opportunity to prove themselves to the customer once again. Resolving problems and complaints reaffirms to the customer the fact that the organization values the customer and the customer relationship. There’s a good reason customer retention is among the duties of these employees.