This article was originally published on Forbes.
In order to succeed in business today, you have to go beyond selling products and services— you have to build and nurture relationships with your customers. The good news is that, thanks to technology, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about your customers and their needs, and regularly engage with them.
Consumers interact with brands more than ever before, whether via phone, email, online purchases or social media. Businesses often encourage consumers to provide feedback, offer opinions and share purchasing preferences at every interaction. But when consumers feel that those revelations go unnoticed, they move on to more engaged companies in the blink of an eye. Failing to listen to consumers has never been more detrimental to business success.
Fortunately, the same technological advances that allow so much customer interaction also enable smart companies to manage and act upon the data generated from these conversations. Scalable cloud-based storage options, computing technologies, intuitive CRM integrations and robust APIs create unprecedented opportunities for companies to truly get to know their customers, reduce the time needed to act upon this knowledge and ultimately create stronger and more profitable relationships with customers.
The key is to deploy the right technology and know how to use it. But first, you need to understand how data can help build stronger relationships.
Here are three ways smart data collection and its use can help you build meaningful and profitable relationships.
1. Provide a more complete understanding of customers
Many larger companies have already figured out how to leverage data to create better relationships with customers. However, small to midsize businesses have been hampered by a lack of resources to properly collect and manage customer information.
As the tools to generate customer data proliferated, many midsize businesses began collecting data only to become overwhelmed with how to manage and apply data. But by centralizing sales and marketing activity in an integrated customer database, you can merge intelligence through CRM integrations and identify intersections and opportunities for sales, operational, and/or customer service representatives. The centralization allows for more accurate and personalized upselling of products to customers, better resolution of customer issues, and user experience that fosters long-term relationships and helps build trust between businesses and customers.
2. Eliminate roadblocks to better customer sales and service
No customer likes to answer the same question (or questions) over and over again. Conversely, no business likes to deploy different resources to serve a customer merely because internal processes prevent or discourage effective internal communication.
An integrated customer data platform solves both of these issues by helping to reduce or eliminate internal barriers between siloed company responsibilities. For example, a cloud-based CRM that enables all team members to securely input data ensures that at every step customers are treated to relevant and non-redundant interactions. Through a robust integrated CRM, every customer detail is noted and accounted for (including key conversations, email communications, customer preferences, project requirements, etc.), so every internal touchpoint gains a comprehensive view of the customer and knows their place in the process. Delivery of services is streamlined, appropriate follow-up occurs when required (and by the correct person), and customers feel they have a cohesive team working on their behalf.
3. Encourage long-lasting relationships
Like in any relationship, communication is key. But ongoing understanding of customer needs—and truly relating to them—is what nurtures and maintains long-lasting, meaningful relationships.
Customized CRM features enable companies to create these more productive (and ultimately more profitable) relationships. You can collect and use key data, such as product interest, payment, financial preferences, and other relevant information, with available technology, such as mobile CRM apps, CRM Gmail integration, and web forms. Use these tools to ensure that all data is accurately tracked and reported through pipelines. You’ll be able to deliver custom products and personalized services and your customers will feel like they have a partner they can count on. Your customers will reward you with their loyalty, referrals, and ongoing business.
It’s easy to glean insight into customers. However, to turn data into actionable insights, you need a CRM solution that will allow you to not just collect, but also track information, link data from various sources, and create a human, complete view of your customers and their needs.
Without these capabilities, data collection becomes a burden both on businesses and their customers.
Interested in learning how these and other data management strategies play out in the real world? Read our blog series on how Insightly customers overcome roadblocks to effective data use and accelerate growth with data.