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CRM Systems: Using Data to Manage Customer Relationships

3:13 pm, Sat, 17 June 17

Episode 67 of Landscape Digital Show reveals how to teach CRM systems to organize and manage data to better manage customer relationships.


CRM Systems: Using Data to Manage Customer Relationships

The most basic tool for accomplishing business objectives is a simple checklist. You have lists of customers, products, and activities that drive your business.

How well all of that works together will determine the success of your business. While some have tackled this challenge with spreadsheets, CRM systems that integrate with marketing automation are infinitely more reliable.

CRM or customer relationship management systems initially start out as a database of customers and information associated with them. Over time this database becomes something bigger. It grows into a digital asset whose value grows as the business grows and streamlines the management of customer relationships.

There are many excellent CRM systems, but let’s be clear that the value of the CRM is ultimately measured by the quality of data that it gives the business. The responsibility for making that happen is 100% on the business.

You have to teach your CRM how to give your business the right data on its customers, leads, and prospects.

Let’s examine how that works.

Step 1. Use Categories and Tags to Organize

Lists work best to get the job done when they are highly targeted, and that is made possible with strategic tagging.

Tags organize customer data so that it is discoverable, but more important so that the CRM can segment customers, prospects, and leads into lists that the business can use to accomplish its objectives.

Many companies segment their lists into customers and prospects and that’s it. My practice is to go further so that my business can personalize its interactions with our customers.

For example, we obviously have a client list, but we also add other tags to distinguish repeat customers from the larger group of customers because they are clearly higher value customers that trust us completely.

Think of your tagging system as the search algorithm for your CRM. You know when you perform a Google search it delivers all the available search results. However, the Google navigation allows you to focus on specific result categories, that is, images, news, videos, maps and more.

Think of categories as buckets of similar content. For your CRM they are buckets of customer insights that are defined by related tags. The more tags you use the more accurately your lists can be defined, but to make those tags easy to locate and use you should create meaningful categories.

Here are the categories I use that you can borrow from:

• Business Status – (client, prospect, lead, vendor)
• Personal Status – (repeat client, early adopter, friend, influencer)
• Behaviors – (actions people take)
• Subscriptions – (opt-ins)
• Products – (purchases)
• Interests – (insights)
• Events – (live events)

A contact (person) can only have one business status tag, but he or she can have multiple personal status tags that further describe who they really are, such as a client that is a repeat client and an early adopter. These are the clients that help us test and refine our ideas to make them suitable for the majority.

Subscriptions are information lists that the subscriber has requested to join. Behaviors are non-buying actions people have taken, and products and interests are self-explanatory. As you can imagine, most businesses will have multiple products, and the people buying them will potentially have hundreds of interests.

As a professional speaker, I present at and attend many events, so that is an important category for organizing my relationships. And I would think it would be for many business professionals too because in our digital world it’s especially important to get the full value out of these more intimate, in-person interactions.

Step 2. Teach the System the Actions to Take

CRM systems should ultimately tell a story that helps the business to make better decisions.

Your decision-making process may follow a traditional sales funnel or the more contextual buyer’s journey. What’s key is to anticipate and encourage desired customer actions by responding appropriately to every action taken.

This can be accomplished by considering ‘what if?’

• What if a prospect buys?
• What if customers need to be notified of an emergency?
• What if a buyer needs more information?
• What if our offer is rejected?
• What if a prospect’s interest score jumps?

All of these actions by customers or prospects merit an appropriate response, and the best-prepared business will almost certainly be the one with a robust CRM that has been adapted to know how to respond to each and every situation.

Let’s say a prospect’s interest score does jump. In most CRM systems any type of engagement (typically clicking a link) will be interpreted as interest that raises his or her score. Depending on the type of business, this may trigger an offer or a manual response like a phone call.

Historically, CRM systems have been used to accumulate data. In 1998 when my landscape business committed to our first true CRM our productivity jumped because we had invaluable data at our fingertips. However, we had a new challenge and that was what to do next with that data.

Now that we have marketing automation and mobile devices that give us notifications, it’s entirely possible to filter the numberless ‘what if’s” so that what follows is our top priority, and that it gets the attention it deserves.

It’s necessary is to create actions that address the many ‘what if’ possibilities and then build lists around those actions.

Examples of actions that may be triggered are as follows:

• Start tracking
• Promote a product or service
• Connect and engage
• Offer a discount or reward
• Educate and inform
• Express gratitude
• Request more information

You get the idea. These are common day-to-day activities for any business. The only difference now is that we have data to assist in making the right decisions and to automate action sequences whenever possible.

Good luck!

Show Notes

Call to Action

The call to action is to get a CRM if you don’t have one. If you do, start getting more from it if you do have one by teaching it how to give you the data you need to better manage your customer relationships and grow your business.