Keeping track of your customers can be a tricky and time consuming process without a customer relationship management (CRM) system in place. As a small business starting up, you don’t always have the funds for an expensive system. So what should you be using?
A simple spreadsheet is really more than enough for keeping a record of customers and potential customers. It can be designed to specifically suit you and your business needs. You can even colour code it so you can tell who’s who at a glance. Make use of different tabs for current customers, potential customers (i.e., those who have already expressed an interest), people who might be interested or you’ve networked with, etc.
By using simple formulas you can even put in follow up dates and get the text to change for you – ideal for those customers who have time related requirements. Setting up alerts on your calendar or smartphone can be annoying and often when the alerts arrive, you’re never quite sure what they mean. This is a quick and easy way to solve that issue.
A CRM is so much more than an address book though. You can enter any relevant information about that customer into your spreadsheet and add helpful notes for your future interactions. Are they a subscriber of your newsletter? If not, make a note and mention it to them or send a personalised email with details. Add a follow up date and see if they did sign up. If not, you might want to consider a different marketing tactic for that customer in future.
It’s easier to get repeat custom from a client than gain new customers which is where an effective CRM really comes into force. When you’re using a spreadsheet it really is up to you how detailed the information you want to hold on that customer is – no one else is going to see it but you. Any information that might help you build a rapport with that customer is good to have. For instance, you need to phone a client about their latest project and on the spreadsheet you’ve noted that they are a football fan. A great opener to your phone call (and one they probably won’t be expecting) is to ask about their favourite football team. Straight away you’ve got something in common, you’ve built some rapport and it’s much easier to start talking business.
Eventually, your business will grow to the level where a CRM becomes essential and your spreadsheet is too full to manage easily. When you are ready to move on to a bigger and better system, you will find that most CRMs will allow you to import your spreadsheet in a csv file format.Good customer relations are so important when running a successful business but it doesn’t need to be expensive. Start your spreadsheet today and never struggle to find an email address or phone number again!