6 Critical CRM Features to Increase Customer Loyalty
“The customer is always right.” That used to be the slogan of B2C and B2B businesses for three-quarters of the last century, when shopping still occurred quite locally. A consumer with an issue would call or simply appear at the retailer’s place of business and expect good customer service.
Today, “the customer is king.” And it’s all because of the Internet. Customers have access to goods and services from all over the world. And the generation that is most taking advantage of this is the millennials, who, in America alone, are expected to spend $200 billion in 2017. Globally, that figure is more like $600 billion.
The New Age of Customer Loyalty: Implications for Business Owners
There is a number of shopping characteristics of millennials and even a chunk of Gen X’ers you should take into account when developing your customer retention strategies. Here are just a few:
Consumers are now self-reliant. According to The Real Self-Service Economy report, 40% of global consumers prefer self-service to human contact for customer service; 70% expect companies to have a self-service customer relations app.
Most consumers are not fond of calling customer service reps. According to recent Pew Research poll, 34% would “rather have their teeth cleaned” and another “26% would rather go to the DMV.” They prefer communicating with brands via SMS, self-service, or social.
They expect customer relations activities on the part of companies to speak in their own language and on their preferred platforms. Customer relations are valued when they are more casual.
Building customer loyalty means you will do it through exceptional customer management software – a system that lets them “get in and get out” and that solves their issues.
Today’s consumers have no fear of leaving a company they feel does not treat them right. In fact, more than half will leave a company after a single bad experience. In short, if you do not provide stellar customer relations, your leads and your customers will go elsewhere.
The impact of CRM software on customer retention is huge, because an existing customer can go to a competitor with just a few clicks.
Figuring Out What You Want Your CRM Software to Do
Here’s the thing: There is a host of CRM solutions and more arriving daily. Businesses see them as a clear path for how to enlarge the numbers of customers through CRM. And most of them offer every “bell and whistle,” with a CRM features list that boggles the mind. This tends to distract businesses that believe the more CRM functions a piece of software has, the better it must be.
The truth is this: Most all “packaged” CRMs will have the features you want, but most will also have so many that really won’t do the “heavy lifting” you want right now.
What you need now is greater simplicity and the must-have features of CRM that will actually further your goal of obtaining new customers while also retaining those your currently have.
And here is the other caveat in all of this: It can cost 4 – 10 times as much to gain a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. Armed with this knowledge, you now know that you have to understand how to improve customer retention with the right CRM software solution.
You know the characteristics of the most plentiful demographic of online consumers – now you want the features that will result in the best practices for retaining your customer base within that demographic.
6 CRM Features You Want to Increase Customer Retention
1. Your software must be simple.
You will never talk your team into embracing any CRM web app that is complicated to use. It needs to integrate easily with the software that you are already using, and that may indeed require custom CRM development.
Heavily loaded features are not simple. For example, if you have a call-center desk, how can it be integrated into your CRM system? You will probably need a custom solution for this. The same goes for email, whether it is for marketing or to respond to customer issues.
2. It must integrate all customer information in one place.
Nothing can be more frustrating for a consumer than to wait while their information is gathered, even if automatically, from several different sources. Only when you have a customer history in one place, you can serve that customer well.
Sales teams need a complete, single source if they are going to approach existing customers with new products or services, replacement of existing ones, etc. They can track and document every step in the process that converts a lead into a customer.
This is valuable information to have, because it can be aggregated over time and analyzed to understand what is working and what is not. You may want to opt for additional data science services in this case.
Marketers need a single data source so that they could analyze and segment out existing customers to automate new outreach and relationship-building.
Starbucks does an amazing job with this. It knows what its current customers usually buy. With its geolocation tools operating in conjunction with its CRM software, it can target those customers as they approach an existing store with specials, coupons, etc. This gives the customer a “feel” of personalization, and it builds stronger relationships. Starbucks, by the way, has its own custom CRM, because it knows just the features it wants. And if it wants to add specific features, it has the developers to do so.
3. It must be mobile.
This feature is for both the enterprise team and for the customer. Both need to be able to access the CRM web application for their purposes. The team member who is not in the office must have access when a critical customer makes contact. Also, clients want to have access to customer service from wherever they are, and at any time.
The impact of CRM on customer retention cannot be overstated. And it is the “relationship” part that today’s consumer is most interested in. It should therefore be the top concern for businesses too.
Aside from the strategies that Starbucks has introduced, what else is a necessary feature of your custom CRM to foster relationships with your customers? Here are a few:
Include self-service options.
A lot of companies are taking phone calls and emails from customers who want to exchange or return purchased items. If you have CRM software that automates this process and makes it self-service, you have less need for customer service reps, and those you do have can focus on the more serious issues customers may have.
Include a “social mention” feature.
Part of customer service is knowing who is happy or upset that will never contact you directly. Instead, they will share their satisfaction or dissatisfaction on social media for all to see. Having a tool within your CRM system that alerts you of any instance of your brand’s mention will allow you to locate that mention and to respond to that customer publicly. Resolving issues to create a better relationship with an existing customer (whether it is his/her first or tenth purchase) will help to retain that customer in the future. And you are seen as a company that cares.
5. It must have easily understandable analytics.
You have heard a lot about analytics, and you are probably using a variety of tools to discover the demographics of your customer base, how they are finding you, what they do when they access your business site, and, most important, how they come to make that conversion into being a customer. What your CRM software must do to retain existing customers is to determine several important pieces of data:
- What percentage of customers are “frequent flyers,” that is, they come back again?
- Of those repeat customers, how many have come in response to specific marketing strategies you have used?
- Who have you lost and what common factors seem to be accounting for customers who leave?
- What are the most common customer service issues that customers have? If you track this, you will know what you need to address and clean up.
- If you put out surveys of customer satisfaction, is that data “crunched” effectively to give you easily understandable reports?
If your CRM software does not include analytics, then you are running all over trying to find individual analytics tools to use. How much better to have it all in one place.
6. Reward Programs.
These are the hot new strategies for companies to build customer loyalty. At first glance, they can be powerful, and they should be built into your CRM software as a part of your online customer outreach. But here are some statistics and a newer method of doing this that may go even further toward customer retention. According to a recent report from Deloitte Center for Financial Services:
- Enrollment in loyalty programs continues to increase by about 20% a year.
- Only 42% of those enrolled in loyalty/rewards programs are actively participating in them. And of those, only 20% have ever even cashed in any of their rewards. The strongest participating group is in “airline miles” rewards.
- One of the main reasons for lack of use (and thus loyalty) is that there are so many reward programs with so many unique redemption specifications, consumers become confused. And when reward program members do not use their accumulations, they can be more likely to go somewhere else. In short, they do not see the reward programs as important enough.
A potential solution to this problem, and one that some marketers are trying now, is to integrate reward programs with other companies, setting up a collaborative relationship between several businesses that have uniform redemption policies and that allow customers to use their “points” across several niches.
Thus, Sam may use his airline miles as points toward meals when he travels or to hotel or car rentals. Perhaps he can use the points with certain affiliated retailers. There are all sorts of collaborative possibilities besides the obvious – clothing, shoes, and jewelry, for one. Further, it can be built into CRM software, so that a customer can not only access his point amount but see how much those points would be worth in collaborating businesses.
Packaged Product or Custom CRM Development Services?
Business owners would be wise to take a step back and analyze what their true needs are based upon their customer base, their business type, and what they really want their CRM software to do to retain customer loyalty. The “must-haves” are certainly present in most packaged solutions, but these can be cumbersome and complex, and you may very well be paying for CRM features that you will never use.
On the other hand, if you find the right software development agency – one that can translate your “must-haves” into a unique and bespoke software solution, you have simplicity, efficiency, and pay only for those features you want and need right now. As you scale, this may change, but those features can be added as needed.
If you are ready to make that important leap into CRM through a custom product, get in touch with Romexsoft. We can discuss your needs and design exactly what you need at this point of time, while providing the opportunity to expand features as necessary in the future.