Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs) enable businesses to aggregate all processes related to potential, current and past customers. While CRMs were once a luxury afforded by large companies with massive budgets, SMBs can now find inexpensive and effective CRMs to meet their own needs. By utilizing a CRM, small businesses can streamline their day-to-day operations to ensure they are providing exceptional customer service coupled with numerous opportunities to grow.

Improved Service

CRMs collect all relevant data about leads and customers and store them in one place, allowing business owners and employees access relevant, up-to-date data at all times and from any location. Since small businesses are notorious for lacking organization, this alone can elevate a company’s service level above that of their competition. Additionally, CRMs minimize the chances of a lead or customer falling through the cracks due to lack of staff availability or misplaced contact information. For example, when a customer contacts a business, owners and employees can quickly access past purchase information to deliver a more personalized experience.

Focus on the customer

A recent report by American Express revealed that a full 75% of American consumers have increased their spending with a company due to positive customer experience, with a staggering 80% of respondents stating that SMBs provide a superior customer experience than larger chains.

An effective CRM gives business owners a comprehensive overview of their clientele and provides them with the tools they need to optimize their messaging to match the needs of their audience. Since CRMs store all information regarding the customer, ideally including purchase history, businesses can run reports to target specific segments of their client-base. This in-depth knowledge, which enables anyone at the company to view all previous communication with the customer, helps businesses to provide customers with superb support, which will increase the chances of them becoming repeat customers as well as referring additional business.

Improved Sales and Marketing Efficiency

Businesses can utilize email automation that is built in to CRM software. By predefining specific sets of requirements, SMBs can send out periodic reminders, promotional materials, and follow ups. Additionally, when integrated with appointment booking capabilities, CRMs can automatically send appointment confirmations and reminders to customers, thus decreasing the chance of no-shows. Email automation also frees up precious time that employees can spend on other aspects of their business.

Business owners can set up automatic emails to contact customers on their birthdays, offering special birthday discounts. Additionally, the system can automatically email a survey to recent customers and send them a coupon for a future purchase, which increases the chance of the user becoming a repeat customer. Alternately, the system can automatically email customers who have not made a purchase in a predefined amount of time to entice them into making another purchase.

CRMs provide businesses with valuable intelligence regarding their client base, enabling them to revisit their sales strategy to target the most beneficial sectors. Past purchase behaviors are an excellent indication of future purchases, and companies can utilize this information to execute effective email campaigns that will convert their consumers into repeat customers.

By effectively storing information about customers, businesses are able to upsell other services to new and existing customers, increasing their profit with very little effort. In this case, a beauty salon may see, through the CRM, that the majority of their customers who come in for a manicure also get a pedicure. When a customer signs up for a manicure, the salon would now be able to confidently offer a pedicure as well, perhaps at a discounted price.

Better lead quality and increased conversion rate

By storing relevant information about both previous customers and leads, businesses can generate new leads and nurture them until they convert into customers. Companies can generate leads through various sources, such as emails, social media and their corporate websites, and tracking lead sources can give businesses valuable insight into which sources brought the most leads that converted into customers, thus enabling them to focus their efforts on the most successful locations. As such, CRMs provide businesses with a cross-function view that can pinpoint existing warm leads, increasing the chance of conversion, in addition to the upselling opportunities previously identified.

Data Reliability

Recent statistics indicate that almost 50% of small businesses experience data loss, despite increased encouragement to automatically, or at least periodically, backup data. Over half of the companies interviewed cited hardware or software failure as the reason for their data loss. CRMs are almost exclusively in the cloud, effectively eliminating the chance of technological data loss (as opposed to human error).

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report indicates that data loss can be detrimental to an SMB to the point of closure, with 70% of business who have experienced data loss shutting down within a year. With 8% of repeat customers bringing in 41% of a company’s revenue, it is easy to see how data loss can lead a business to bankruptcy. Cloud computing automatically backs up data and all time, saving the business time and money when compared to manual backup methods on external hardware.

Without a doubt, a good CRM is the cornerstone of efficient and effective sales and marketing. These solutions enable SMBs to capture and nurture leads, manage existing customers information, increase conversion for repeat customers, elevate customer satisfaction and improve marketing and sales efforts. A CRM can save SMBs time, money and revenue loss due to human error, and can put them one step above their competition.