An old friend of mine recently became a retail manager at a locally owned operation. The company boasts a reasonably sized retail space and enjoys significant online sales. The operation has been in business for a while, and the client list is pretty solid, but the operation isn’t as profitable as he thinks it could be. They have a ledger by the register for tracking clients and the register is as basic as can be – just numbers on the screen. Being a marketing industry veteran, he knows that the company needs to supercharge its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) practices if they are going to see any sort of sales growth and maximize profitability.
Knowing that I’m a consultant at Kays Harbor Technologies, he invited me to lunch to discuss his company’s issues.
He laid it all out while we were waiting for appetizers.
He takes a drink of his tea and sets it down.“I brought up my concerns at a meeting last week. You know what the owner did? He clapped his hands and exclaimed, ‘That’s why you’re here!’ They need me to draft a proposal to implement a CRM solution by next week.”
It took us a second round of appetizers and the entree, but by the time the dessert came, we had a solid plan for deploying known CRM strategies to balance improving his company’s client experience against the company’s need to maximize efficiency and profitability.
Developing a centralized database of customer information is the key to any effective CRM strategy. Data must be captured in three ways: via the point of sale (POS), interaction with the company’s website, and most importantly during interaction with sales associates at the time of purchase.
Data should include purchase history and any information regarding preferences of contact. A customer loyalty program is a perfect tool for garnering client buy-in for such data gathering.
Delight your customers
A successful CRM strategy uses the data captured (with tools like a loyalty program) to build a seamless marketing and communication strategy. Sales associates should be able to access this information easily, and the system should include automated alerts triggering sales calls, product suggestions, and followups based on the client purchase history. Integrated with a mobile application, a CRM program can also be used as a tool to invite clients in to a retail outlet or to visit a company’s website, where they can be treated to a tailored and targeted purchasing experience. An effective CRM that implements such measures ensures customers find what they want, as quickly as possible, builds sales by suggesting related products, and ensures the right deals are being offered to the right clients.
My friend and I knew all of this would be an easy sell. Anything benefiting the client and creating the perception of added value is considered a vital component in retail. Added-value draws customers in and makes them feel they are at the center of any operation. CRM isn’t only about creating added value for clients, though, and I included in the plan overview the benefits a successful CRM program would also create for his coworkers.
Empower your operations
A centralized database of product descriptions and information ensures that employees are equally knowledgeable of inventory and provide clients with correct and consistent information. Tied to a company’s website, this can be used as a key component in transforming “cold calls” into solid sales leads. By then syncing this data with the operation’s POS, employees are able to reference a customer’s previous purchase history to ensure the right items are being purchased. By creating such an integrated and cross-reference database of client interactions, the sales team is able to maximize profitability.
An integrated CRM solution goes much further than the impact on the client and sales team. There is also the quantifiable ability to integrate the CRM approach into supply line management and accounting management practices more efficiently. By simplifying the flow of funds and product into and out of the operation, management is freed up to engage both clients and employees in a much more direct and targeted manner.
Once we finished, my friend looked over the plan we’d outlined. “This looks pretty good. In fact, I would say this plan looks pretty vital to any company that wants to get the most out of its client base and its employees. Now, the only question is, how do we make this happen?”
I handed him my business card and told him to call me when his company was ready to launch the CRM solution we’d outlined. Working for Kays Harbor Technologies, these are the sorts of solutions we offer to our clients every day. As I walked towards the door, the manager for the restaurant, a small locally owned chain with several locations throughout the city, asked for my card, saying he’d overheard some of our conversation. I told him to reach out to me this week and we could set up an appointment.
I have a few spots left in my calendar. Maybe Kays Harbor Technologies can help your company with its CRM approach too?