Contributors from members of the Copper team
Building customer relationships is second nature for most small business owners. But managing those relationships can be difficult and time-consuming without the right tools and expertise.
That’s where sales and relationship management strategies come into play.
Most people hear the term “client relationship management,” and they immediately think it’s referring to a CRM platform. While CRM software is part of customer relationship management, that isn’t the whole story.
Defining customer relationship management
Customer and client relationship management is the process of managing your company’s relationships with its clients and employees — some call it customer relations. It’s about enabling maximum customer satisfaction and building trust with your existing customers in the long term.
Too often, small business owners have the mindset that all the relationship-building happens with potential customers during the pre-sale process. During this time, consultants take their potential clients out to dinner, and sales reps spend extra time on getting-to-know-you phone calls.
Reality paints a much different picture, though. Customer relationships aren’t linear, meaning they don’t always happen in the same order every time.
- Client A might close on that first call and answer every follow-up sales email thereafter.
- Client B takes three calls to close, and you never hear back from them after the first sale.
- Client C doesn’t close after four calls, so you forget about them. What you didn’t know is they just needed an extra email or two to seal the deal.
Customer relationship management is all about making sure that every customer and prospect relationship is handled effectively, so you aren’t leaving any revenue on the table.
Essentially, customer relationship management encompasses the practices, processes, strategies, systems and tools that a company uses to manage its relationships with new prospects and its existing client or customer base.
So, while a CRM platform is definitely a part of the equation, it isn’t the totality of it. Instead, it’s a much broader term that encompasses a whole series of efforts and activities around the customer experience.
8 benefits of client relationship management
Unsurprisingly, there are several advantages to focusing on sales and client relationship management — even as a small business. It’s the reason why 70% of companies are investing more into relationship building.
Here are eight of the top benefits of client relationship management for small businesses.
(1) Makes customer service the priority
Customer service, also called customer support, is essential for today’s small businesses. In fact, 78% of customers have decided not to purchase something because of a poor customer service experience. Beyond that, it takes twelve good customer service experiences to make up for one negative one! Focusing on customer relationship management helps you keep track of your customers and helps minimize bad customer service experiences.
(2) Increases customer retention
Customer relationship management focuses on the relationship with customers long-term. It looks at the value of customer retention and lifetime value versus prioritizing one-time purchases. This simple switch puts retention at the forefront and prioritizes customer engagement, which ultimately saves you time, money and frustration down the road.
(3) Sets you up to scale
When your biz is just getting started, it might be possible to manage customer relationships without a strategy or tools. But the more you grow, the harder it will be to keep things straight. Establishing a foundation of customer relationship management with a good CRM tool sets you up for future success and makes it easier to scale.
(4) Improves internal communication
When you zero in on the customer relationship and pull in tools (like a CRM), it doesn’t just improve your communication with your customers. It helps improve internal communication as well. With your entire team on the same page around customer journeys and accessing the same information as everyone else, it makes it easy for everyone to work together to help foster loyal customers.
(5) Increases sales and marketing efficiency
CRM client relationship management increases sales and marketing efficiency and boosts productivity. Think about it this way; when you have a CRM platform and a dedicated process for customer relationship management, no one has to question where to find customer information or what the next step is. Just having a CRM tool can increase productivity by almost 15%. All customer data and touch points — literally everything your team needs to know — is in one place so that everyone can excel.
(6) Boosts revenue and profitability
Having a CRM platform and using it appropriately (i.e., in tandem with customer relationship management strategies) provides an average ROI of $30.48 for every dollar spent. Focusing on long-term relationships and customer service is a clear way to boost revenue, but having a customer relationship strategy and CRM software enables you to stop pouring money into customers who aren’t worth the investment. In other words, having a CRM strategy helps you make money and save it, boosting revenue and profitability.
(7) Improves customer loyalty
91% of people are more likely to stick with brands that remember them and recognize their preferences. Customer relationship management helps you do just that. With a recorded history of customer interactions, you can easily track customer relationships over time to improve customer engagement and boost loyalty.
(8) Facilitates data collection and analysis
Having a CRM allows you to collect and sort data and pull reports based on that data to quickly analyze what is and isn’t working. This type of visibility into your sales and marketing processes is priceless because it shows you exactly how and where your customer relationship management needs improvement, whether at the front end from the marketing side, or from the sales team or customer success specialists — no guesswork required.
Best practices for developing customer relationship management strategies
Now that you know the benefits of client relationship management, here are a few best practices and tips to get you started.
Define your customer journey
To improve your existing processes, you first need to understand them. Take some time to trace your customers’ journey. How do they come to your company? What happens when a person is interested? What are the steps from first contact to close? What happens after a sale? Figure out the journey (or journeys) your customers take and find ways to improve it with tools and processes.
Focus on customer service
There are many techniques to build customer relationships, but customer service is at the heart of them all. When you create a customer-centric culture, customer relationship management is easy. Put your customer at the center of the equation, ask yourself how to improve their experience from beginning to end to better meet your customers' needs, and build your strategy around that.
Focus on personalization
Personalization is a crucial component of successful sales and client relationship management strategies. From speaking your customers’ love languages to personalizing emails and segmentation, the more you can get personal and make your customers feel seen, the more apt you’ll be to succeed at building enduring relationships.
Choose a CRM
At the crux of sales and client relationship management is your CRM. A customer relationship management system is the hub for your customer relationships. It’s not only a place to store all your customer information and interactions, but it’s also a place to set up pipelines and automate internal processes to make customer management a breeze.
For more detailed advice on building client relationships, check out our in-depth, how-to guide for building customer relationships here.
Getting started with CRM client relationship management
There are many benefits of client relationship management, and having a successful CRM strategy requires having the best tools. Choosing a CRM that’s easy to use and comprehensive enough to grow with you will make all the difference.
Copper CRM is the relationship-centric CRM built to work seamlessly with Google Workspace. We make it easy to manage all your client relationships and streamline your sales and marketing processes with less manual effort.