World Class Customer Relationship Management

By James Bartonstick_figure_customer_service_1600_clr_2051

The world sales software is full of buzzwords like CRM (customer relationship management) and PRM (partner relationship management) but sometimes there is an over reliance on the technology to do what is really just great relationship management.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a massive fan of tools like Salesforce.com and have implemented CRM platforms and strategies for the last 15 years.

It is just that the tools themselves do not create or build relationships.

I have had some experiences where clients have installed CRM and thought it was the silver bullet to all their customer relationship issues, only to find that the actual behaviours from the sales force didn’t change.

With this in mind, I thought it might be useful to have a top ten list of behaviours that can provide you with a world class strategy to build truly exceptional customer relationships.

Here we go:

  1. Do your research. Customers like to know that you know their world. Read widely about their sector, vertical and business and understand their top priorities and objectives. Use tools like Summly, NewsNow and Google alerts to get news on their business sent directly to you.
  2. Treat them like you would like to be treated. Think about how you like to be treated as a customer and apply it to your customers. Good customer relationships can be easily modelled from others who provide you with great service. Write a list of what you consider great customer relationships and model those with your customers
  3. People like people like themselves. Fundamental to all sales and customer relationships (even personal relationships) is the fact that people like people like themselves. Find out the personal motivators of your customers, what they like and what they don’t like, and appeal to these. If you can establish their VAK preferences, use these wherever possible.
  4. Chunk up or chunk down. Some customers love the detail, some customers like the bigger picture. Find out your customers’ preference and ensure that when you communicate you either keep the communication short and to the point or full of the detail.
  5. The power to surprise. This is not about service surprises, or about your offerings (unless they are positive), but think about how you can surprise your clients and add more value. Examples could be sending them a book you have recently read and enjoyed or sending them a web link to a relevant article you have found on the web.
  6. Use the tools. Using CRM software can greatly assist you in building great relationships. They can help you understand buying patterns, hold details of their likes and dislikes but most importantly can track previous conversations. Nothing annoys a customer more than having to repeat what they have already told you or having more than one person call them in a short amount of time.
  7. Reward loyalty. Where a customer is showing great loyalty to you or your business make sure they are rewarded. Whether it is some tickets to their favourite sport, or a simple voucher, customers love to get rewarded. Be careful however to comply with any anti-bribery rules the customer may have as some are not allowed to receive personal gifts.
  8. Involve all stakeholders. Most customers don’t exist in a bubble so make sure you involve your virtual team and update them on progress. A great example is checking in with your support teams BEFORE calling the customer to make sure there are no outstanding requests. If you find something, do everything you can to ensure the issues are sorted.
  9. Tell the bad news. The temptation when bad news comes is to hide it from the customer whilst you get it sorted, but this is often not the best policy. Customers expect some things to go wrong but judge you on your reaction when it does. Be upfront and reassure the customer you are aware of the problem and are working on a resolution.
  10. Set goals. Work with your customer to set attainable and realistic goals (SMART if you can) for both of you throughout the relationship. These goals can help you ensure that you are on track and can give you early warnings when things arise that might need some attention. Focus on business but make sure you add a couple of personal/emotional goals in for both of you.

So there you go…not really rocket science, just common sense and some best practice that I have personally applied and had great success in during my sales career.

Give it a go.

I know you will not be disappointed, and do let me know how you got on…


About The Author

jamesbartonWith over fifteen years experience in the IT industry, starting off as a technical consultant and moving up to an IT Director and then on to a career in front line sales, sales development and channel partnership, James brings a unique set of technical, corporate and sales experience enabling him to understand all dimensions of business development in the IT Sector. In addition to the hard knowledge James possesses, he is also a qualified corporate and executive business coach, NLP practitioner and DISC profiler to add even more depth and value to every relationship.

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