Customer Relationship Management

In your business, building your customer base is probably one of your priorities.  You want to make sure your business continues as a viable operation.  Once you get a new customer, you want to make sure they stay a customer and come back over and over. How best to do this?

You decide to start tracking your customers.  But what is the best way to do this?  Many business owners start by keeping manual cards or ledgers for their customers.  Eventually, they may move on to a home-built database built in Microsoft Access or a product like it.  But is that the right way?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) implementation is one of the most important decisions a business owner can make.  A lot of planning and thought must be put into this decision.  Some of the things to think about:

  • What is the ultimate goal you wish to accomplish?  This is the most important question.  What are you going to do with the data?  How will you use it?
  • To reach your goal, what types of data do you need to gather?  Just basic name/address?  Do you need phone information? Would it be helpful to have birth date?
  • How will you get the information you are looking for?  Will you ask the customer?  Will you buy a list?  If you ask the customer, how will you accomplish this?
  • What kind of purchase information do you need to track?  Categories only?  Line item details?  This goes directly back to what are you going to do with the data.
  • What kind of reports do you need to have to parse out the data you are looking for?
  • How long will you keep the data?  Will you purge records after a specific time?  How will you handle if customers want to Opt-Out of the marketing?

Those questions need to be answered before you even start looking for products to do what you want.  Once you have a pretty good idea of the logistics, then you need to decide some more things.

  • Will you utilize a system in the Cloud or do you want it local?
  • Do you have the staff available to accomplish this implementation?
  • Will you need outside help (consultants, project managers, etc)?
  • Who will need access to the data and to what level?
  • How will you manage ongoing support and maintenance?
  • What is your budget for this project?
  • What is your time-frame for installation/configuration/implementation?

Now you are ready to start looking at vendors.  There are a lot of vendors in the CRM space to choose from.  You will need to decide who best can fit your needs and do it at a price that is within budget.  This is where an outside consulting group can be helpful.  Look for a partner who has strong CRM implementation skills and ability to do the necessary integration with your current systems.

Send VCS Consulting a message (todd@vcsconsult.com) for more information.  We can help get you started on your way!