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How to build strong customer relationships? (Hint: Use technology!)

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Customers are the lifeblood of any business. Building strong relationships with your customers can spell the difference between making a sale and winning a customer for life.

As consumers and business customers alike are spending more and more time online, savvy businesses are leveraging technology to find, win, and keep new customers happy This trend has only accelerated since COVID-19 has constrained our ability to shop and do business in person.

How can your small business build strong customer relationships now that will last into the future? Use technology — customer relationship management technology, in particular.

 

What does customer relationship management technology do?

Customer relationship management (CRM) manages all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. The goal of CRM is simple: Improve relationships to grow your business. A CRM system helps companies stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability.

A CRM for small businesses, like Salesforce Essentials, focuses on ease of use and the fundamentals of customer relationships. Essentials offers sales and service functionality in one app, and is designed to get your business up and running quickly. CRM systems designed for larger organizations typically offer more in the way of customization and extensibility to support more complicated workflows and specialized business processes. Salesforce’s Customer 360 Platform is a prime example of CRM for larger companies.

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What can CRM do for you?

One of CRM’s biggest benefits is the structure and organization it brings to your customer relationships. Right off the bat, a good CRM solution gives your company “a single source of truth” for all of your key information. CRM puts your customer data, notes, metrics, files, and more in one central location that’s easily accessed by whoever on your team needs it. This makes it easy to find what you need when you need it, whether it’s referencing an individual customer’s purchase and service history when responding to a service query, or accessing sales assets and conversation logs during a call with a prospect.

Centralizing critical information like that can be a huge boon for customer relationship-building. But CRM solutions can do so much more, too. Look for best-in-class CRM features like these that put the right information at your fingertips when you need it:

  • Understand your current state of business with reports and dashboards.
  • Respond to customers faster on any channel.
  • Keep all your customer data up-to-date and connected.
  • Sync with tools you already use like Dropbox and DocuSign.

One of CRM’s handiest features is automation. CRM can automate many common business processes and tasks, saving your team time spent on manual work. Email integration is a big one. When you connect your CRM to your business email, it automatically syncs customer data from your Inbox, so you don’t have to type it in yourself. That means less time spent manually entering data so you can have more time to run your business (or to spend with family and friends!).

Cloud-based CRM also makes it easy for you and your team to work from anywhere — a big plus these days. Salesforce’s CRM technology works via Web browser and mobile app, so your employees can log in from home, the office, or anywhere in between. Our software-as-a-service (SaaS) model means there’s nothing to install or configure on your end except our mobile app. We take care of security, updates, and backups, saving you time, money, and the need for dedicated IT support.

 

What can you do with CRM?

We talked about what CRM can do for your business, but now let’s flip it around. What are some of the things you can do with CRM that might fit your business’ specific needs?

The possibilities are endless, really. But a great way to get started is by listing some of your business goals or priorities that could be made more efficient with technology. Specific tasks may differ from company to company, especially between B2B and B2C small businesses. Here are some common uses to help get you started:

  • Create a streamlined sales funnel
  • Manage your customer list
  • Know the history of a customer’s interactions with your company
  • Forecast sales for the next quarter
  • Simplify the Quote-to-Cash process
  • Compete more effectively against bigger companies
  • Track your events
  • Keep your files organized from client to client

For another angle on all the ways CRM can help your business, spend a minute or two with our Small and Medium Business Industries Success Guide. This interactive resource walks through how CRM helps build strong customer relationships and support specific workflows across different industries.

 

Originally published on The Salesforce 360 Blog.

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