B2B Digital Marketing Best Practices-CRM

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Identifying and Developing Loyal customers

Numerous studies have shown that about 75% of company profits are derived from “loyal customers.” Of course, it all depends on what each company and industry defines as “loyal.” It could be based on purchasing frequency, revenue generation, customer attitude and advocacy, market reach, etc. But one thing is becoming very clear: Identifying, developing and leveraging loyalty is at the heart of digital marketing and requires special attention and understanding of what is needed for an effective and validated marketing effort.

Information, Analysis and Developing Relationships

Besides having an excellent product or service and providing an excellent customer (a customer does not need to be the “end user”) experience, building customer loyalty requires a process of relationship building. As customers have different needs and desires, building meaningful relationships require the ability to construct accurate and current customer profiles to enable the design of customized strategies to understand and meet those needs and desires.

As information is the first step in constructing a customer profile, we will first focus best practices on the heart of information gathering and lead generation: the Customer Resource Management system (CRM). Once a competent CRM system has been established and ready for action, inside and outside sales can begin the patient process of bringing in new customers as well as moving them along the path toward becoming loyal customers.

After discussing the CRM best practices, we will discuss the ways to develop relationships by implementing Loyalty and referral programs as well as drive demand with calls to action (CTA) and measuring the effectiveness of digital marketing programs. To conclude the paper, we will touch upon the near term future of digital marketing as Big Data and the Internet of Things help marketer get even closer to customers.

B2B Digital Marketing Best Practices-CRM

CRM Best Practices

The CRM system puts your customer at the heart of your business. It allows marketers to build better relationships with customers allows for multiple interactions at the same time. However, the average email user receives about 416 commercial messages or more per month. This deluge has made it harder to break through the noise.

The CRM is not so much a technology as it is a strategy that requires planning, monitoring and constant measurement.

Best Practices[i]: (Also includes best CRM team and sales interaction practices)

1: Get sponsorship from the top brass

CRM requires working across organizational boundaries and breaking down long-term siloed behaviors and attitudes. Many departments will participate in the gathering and use of CRM information.

2: Build a team.

Pick your CRM team wisely – everyone will need to own the customer experience. Remember, in forming the team, consider people, process, and technology as all will be affected. The reason inside sales has been shown to one of the most effective marketing channels is that-if properly implemented-the inside sales rep acts as a central point of communications instead of having to separate communications with multiple departments. Indeed, the rep becomes a customer advocate as well as the company advocate where both interests are aligned. This may require new communications processes as the CRM team becomes the main focal point of interaction with the customer.

3: Define your business objectives?

Your CRM strategy must be designed with your business objectives and customer requirements in mind. Besides generating sales, CRM teams must also create value for the customer in itself regardless of metrics.

4: Identify who your customer is.

Is there agreement on definition of “customer?”  Is it the purchasing manager, the sales rep, the customer VP of sales? This also implies defining how a customer makes a buying decision and who that key decision maker may be.

Have consensus on this and other key definitions. Can you identify your customers across multiple touch points (retail, call center, mail, catalog, web and e-mail)? When we say “consensus” we mean open discussion about the entire customer- inside sales effort and experiences. Avoid developing a silo structure and any inside or outside rep “owning” a customer.

Consider life stages.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are roughly 75 million baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), more than 49 million gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1979), more than 72 million gen Yers (born between 1980 and 1999), and 40 million millennials (born between 2000 and now).

5: Differentiate.

This function is key to help identify common characteristics within similar groups. Perhaps the segmentation used in your CRM will be based on a drill down priority such as “1st level” characteristic (industry); “2nd level” (loyal or high revenue score); 3rd level (shipping time), etc. These CRM categories should be based on consensus and formal definitions like a chart of accounts so that there is as little subjectivity as possible.

6: Understand your Customers – what they want, and how they want it from you. Make sure an input each customer contact as to date and subject as well as mention concerns and attitude.

7: Agree on desired customer behaviors – build consensus on how you want customers to behave differently and what the customer experience will be… from the customer’s perspective. Design a different customer experience for each customer segment.

8: Define customer experience goals

How should your experience feel? Identify important business interactions e.g. high volume or high cost. Identify interactions that are important to the customer – high involvement and high perceived importance. How are these interactions currently handled by your company? Are there opportunities for improvement?

Design systematic approach for incorporating the needs of customers into the design of customer experiences.  The key to developing a successful new customer experience is to develop a response to a customer need that is unique, compelling, and adoptable.

9: Have an integrated customer strategy. Recognize that disparate databases of customer information prevent companies from gaining a holistic view of the customer throughout the organization. Break down those silos.

10: Define and map data requirements: You need to know what customer data is necessary and from what system it will originate.

11: Standardize data. Various departments in your organization may see your customer quite differently from another. Try to establish one integrated set of analytical data throughout the company.

12: Dialogue with your customers: It’s not just a list of products or order taking; you need to focus on what you’re trying to be to your customers. Understand your company’s boundaries for using data about your customers. And ask customers how they want to interact with your company.

Keep your promises. Remind customers of promises kept and take responsibility for promises unfulfilled. Respond quickly to customer queries.

13: Get personal. Customers hate to feel like the sales agent is reading to them from a script. Learn your customers’ personal needs and profiles and target your service to each individual.

14: Develop success metrics – How will you know if your CRM program has been a success?

Typically, open, response and conversion rates are primary CRM metrics.

15: Create customer engagement programs (acquisition, growth and retention). Customer engagement is a process, not an event. Too often retention is treated as a project, rather than a guiding principle. (See Referral and Loyalty programs)

16: Collect Data – collect and use information from each customer interaction to make your chosen customers more valuable to your enterprise. Can you identify behaviors, attitudes, needs, propensities or intentions? Plan to clean your data regularly.

17: Test, test, test. Troubleshoot with test customers before making your services generally available. Focus on ROI. Experiment with your Marketing.

18: Monitor the customer experience. Keep your eye on the prize. Measure the results and soothe the inevitable hiccups. Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes. Don’t rely on complaints from customers about how horrific it is to do business with you. Put yourself in their shoes by going through the typical customer experience. It is amazing how many companies institute processes and half-hearted mystery shop themselves.

19: Automate some low contact processes. Having customers enter their personal information on a Web site versus providing it to an agent over the phone reduces the potential for human error. Also, customers may feel uncomfortable revealing personal data like medical and financial information to another person.

20: Empower staff. Give front line staff the ability to please the customer. Too often they can’t make timely decisions nor can they present relevant offers – effectively facilitating customer dissatisfaction and defection.

21: When buying any new CRM system, keep it simple. Don’t buy what you don’t need. The fewer bells and whistles, the less time and money you’ll need to devote to training. People don’t like change as it is; keeping things simple only makes the switchover that much easier. And train early and train often.

22: Communicate your successes to the rest of the organization. Identify quick wins. Tackle the smallest, easiest task straight away and save the hard stuff for later.

23: Constantly update customer contact information. The acquisition of customers is expensive in time and money; to lose then by not updating contact information is a waste. A good procedure is to ask each customer if there have been any changes in contact information every time there is a contact (recent studies show that about 22% of customer contact information are inaccurate or out of date). Periodically cleanse CRM data and make any needed additions.

24: Recognize customers across all marketing channels. The CRM should integrate all customer activities to complete the perception of 360 degree knowledge of the client. All customer touchpoints should also be noted.

[i] http://www.crmtrends.com/crm.html


Additional Reading

Social Marketing Optimization and the Future of Economics

The Changing Customer Service Paradigm


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