This article will explore the benefits of knowing your customers. Not just knowing who they are and where they live, but in having a database that contains information that can powerfully help to grow your pool business and act as the cornerstone for good customer relationship management (CRM).
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
In the past, a lot of people who ran successful businesses would proudly say that they knew all of their customers by name. In these days of modern marketing methods, computers and the internet, that proud boast may be becoming less and less true unless your business has a well-managed customer database.
A good customer database will / should contain information on all of your past and present clients as well as information on everyone who has made an enquiry but not yet become a customer.
That information will not be limited to just a name and some contact details; it will hold a record of every purchase that they have made, how they first became aware of your pool company and any number of other pieces of information that might be useful to you in running, growing and marketing your business.
Stick with it.
A customer database and a CRM system has to be nurtured, used, grown and developed before you really start to see the major benefits. It takes time to get all the existing information in there and it takes time before you and your sales or marketing team get used to working with it. However, within a year, most pool and spa businesses see a return on their investment.
Get everyone using it.
The more information a database contains the more powerful it is so, as that information can come in from many different sides of your business, everyone needs to be using it: the management, the sales team, service engineers; indeed everyone who comes into contact with your customers should be using and adding to your database.
Decide what is it you want your system to do – now and in the future – by thinking ahead. One of the great things about a database is that you can ask it all sorts of questions about your company; questions about customers, about growth and about profit. In order to answer those questions the database must be set up so that those fields are searchable. So think about what you might want to know, decide what sort of information that you would require, and make sure that you are recording that information.
Choose the right system.
A database could be held as a simple Excel spreadsheet or it could be on a piece of branded software that you buy from the internet or a computer retailer, or it might be something that a software company writes to meet your specific needs. However clever it is, and however expensive it might be, it is utterly useless if your people don’t use it. So make sure that it is easy for your staff to work with and that the system suits the way you work.
Review how it’s working and whether it could work better.
Everyone has to adopt CRM for it to work. Without them, the system just won’t give you the results you need. CRM is not a single silver bullet and it will only work if you put in the effort, which means bringing all relevant people to the table. After a few months, review the impact that CRM has had on your company. Look at the differences it has made both internally and externally. If there are problems then nip them in the bud.
What can I hope to achieve with the database?
Once the system has been established and contains enough data then the ways that it can be used are almost endless.
You could search for your most profitable customers and look for similarities amongst them; that information might help you market towards new customers who might be equally rewarding.
You could make it available to anyone answering the phone so that when a customer rings they have all the details to hand including that person’s sales history. With that information they should be able to offer a more professional service.
You can ask the database to set alarms to remind your staff of certain things. For instance, if someone usually buys chemicals from you every three months, then you can be aware of that and contact the customer before they run out or, if they fail to get in touch with you when expected, you could be alerted to the fact that they may have found an alternative supplier.
If you can anticipate your customers’ wants and needs and fulfil them before they even ask, then that will definitely help establish strong relationships with those people making them even more likely to stay with your business and recommend it to others.