Managing customer relationships doesn’t need to be the daunting process it may seem. The following tools can provide touch points and management systems for your regular communications, and offer your customers various ways to stay in touch.

In this section:

Customer Relationship Management Systems
Email Marketing & eNewsletters
SMS Systems
Online Support
Social Media
Blogs

Customer Relationship Management Systems


With so many options available, choosing a CRM can be a big task, but they’re one of the best tools for managing customer relationships. With literally hundreds of systems available, it may seem like a challenge to even begin the process of finding a provider. The following items may help you review your choices and ultimately decide which one works best for you.

Usability

As you try out your new system, pay attention to your experience. Do you feel that the navigation is straightforward, and that information can be easily located? Does the information flow seem logical to you, and can you see how it would make your job easier? Try not to get hung up on flashy designs – there’s no point paying for a system with lots of features that you’re unable to apply to your business.

Support

As with all business projects, you will definitely have questions when you’re initiating your chosen system. Make sure that support is available 24/7, with quick response times, well stocked Frequently Asked Questions (with useful answers!), and investigate user forums. It might be a good idea to look for product reviews regarding the support system, to see if they are currently delivering what they say they can.

Choose a system to suit your processes

There’s no point creating more work for yourself by implementing a system that doesn’t work with your current processes. If the system cannot provide everything you need it to, it’s just going to create more work down the line. For service based businesses, investigate project management and sales systems. If you deal with lots of products, investigate options that include inventory processes.

Choose a system that fits your size

Many CRM systems include detailed systems required for large corporations. Initiating one of these systems would provide you with many unnecessary tools at an price far more inflated than what small business owners generally require. Research the CRM providers current clients and see if they align with the size of your business. Price is a good indication of scope; if it seems exorbitant, it probably isn’t aimed at businesses with a smaller turnover. In saying that, if you plan on growing your business in the next few years, choosing a system that allows for scalability as you achieve that growth is a huge benefit.  

Email Marketing & eNewsletters


Email marketing is a great way to make regular, active contact with your customers, suppliers or leads. The process is much cheaper than traditional direct mail pieces, and has the benefit of being easily trackable for conversion rates. Services are available to help you manage email marketing campaigns and send bulk emails to a database. Popular services include Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, and Streamsend. Recent developments in this technology allows you to easily customise templates with drag-and-drop features, helping you to design a template that reflects your brand.

Tips for the electrical industry

Make it easy

Customers come to you because they want to hear from you, so make sure your subscription link or form is front and centre on your homepage, and available through your social media accounts. It is also a good idea to let your subscribers know how often they will be contacted, and the type of communication they will receive.

Keep a publishing calendar

Sending a regular newsletter is a big commitment. When you sit down to write it, it can help to have a list of stories in mind. As part of your regular activities, file away emails that contain possible articles or ideas, or create a spreadsheet where you can file topics.

Think about mobile

As with mobile optimised websites, you should also consider how your communication will look on a mobile device. Email service providers such as Campaign Monitor and MailChimp are now providing responsive templates which you can easily brand to suit your business.

Offer unique deals

If you have an excess of stock, or a few weeks free in your work schedule, why not offer a deal unique to your subscribers? Add a redemption code in the email and ask users to mention it when they make a booking.

Understand the Spam Act

The Spam Act 2003 regulates commercial email activity. It is important to add an “opt-out” method for clients who no longer wish to receive your emails. Platforms such as MailChimp and Campaign Monitor will automatically add these systems to your email campaigns, and feed any opt outs directly into your database.

SMS Systems


SMS is a great tool small businesses can use to make regular, scheduled contact points with customers. This cheap, easy to use service can be a highly valuable marketing tool for small business, as it allows for opted in, personal messages with clients. As opposed to traditional marketing strategies, the opt in approach means you only pay to reach customers who have chosen to receive your communications – an essentially engaged audience. With smart phones reaching huge levels of popularity, the mobile phone itself offers a unique selling point for businesses. With 45 per cent of people saying they have used display as you pay methods to purchase goods, the ability of businesses to offer SMS deals is growing.

Tips for the electrical industry

Schedule SMS seasonally

There is always a seasonal event happening at a local or national level, so take advantage of these in your advertising. For example, campaigns around smoke alarm safety have aligned a smoke alarm battery change with the 1st of April. This is a great chance to place your business at the front of your customers mind, by offering applicable, timely advice. Or, if you have written a blog post about electrical safety regarding Christmas lights, why not SMS your customers with a link to the story, and wish them a safe and happy Christmas? The opportunities for targeted, seasonal campaigns are endless, and makes your message seem less like spam, and more considerate of the customers’ needs.

SMS appointment reminders

There’s nothing worse than arriving on a job site to find out that nobody is home. Send an SMS a day or two before the scheduled appointment to remind your clients what time you’ll be arriving. This is a great way to decrease labour waste – potentially, if the client can no long make the booking, they will contact you to reschedule.

Offer unique deals

SMS, like email, offers you a great way to provide your regular customers with a special deal. Sweeten the offer by promoting it to regular clients before the general public, and provide a unique code that they can use to redeem the offer. The code can be letters and/or numbers to redeem over the phone, or a physical bar code which can be scanned by displaying the image on a mobile device.

Online support


Part of managing customer relationships is providing great customer service. With new digital tools to help, you now have more ways than ever to ask for feedback and reviews, and provide a better knowledge base to your clients. Online forums, social media, and Frequently Asked Question pages are all great ways to create a conversation and provide support to clients. You can also create a feedback form via platforms such as Survey Monkey, KwikSurveys or Typeform, and ask your clients for some feedback on their experience with you. These tools, although very inexpensive – and at times, free – may take time to monitor and respond to. As with any digital channel, it is best to address comments in a timely manner. You may also wish to create a reply policy and make this known to your customers. A general rule of thumb is within 24-48 hours.

Tips for the electrical industry

Develop a FAQs page

Do you have cancellation policies, payment policies or anything else you need to communicate with your customers? Use these to build a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section on your website. FAQs are a great way to offer support to customers, without having to reply to countless emails regarding the same query.

Using a blog? Enable comments

Are you creating new content regularly for a blog? A great way to encourage feedback is by enabling comments. Plugins such as DISQUS can be added to many websites, and included at the bottom of each page (where relevant). Alternatively, platforms such as WordPress come with basic, built in comment systems. A comment section is a great way to encourage interaction from your customers, and another outlet for them to make enquiries.

Social Media


Social Media channels are quickly becoming a go-to position for consumers with a query or complaint, making them a great resource for managing customer relationships. A recent survey suggests that 82 per cent of people use Facebook in particular to access a businesses customer service representative, with nearly half expecting the quickest result via Facebook. In the instance of either good or bad feedback, social media provides a great outlet for businesses to showcase their willingness to attend to their customers’ needs. Social media gives business a unique chance to sit back and listen to what their customers actually want, providing a valuable tool for information collection. And with over one-third of users following businesses or brands on social media, it’s a channel you should consider. See our module on Social Media for benefits and a how to guide for individual channels.

Tips for the electrical industry

Answer all queries on social media… especially the negative ones

Be especially considerate with any negative feedback on social media. In most instances, unless the post contains words/items that violate your posting policy, it is good practice not to delete negative feedback. Rather, show your ability to provide good customer service by responding to the negative feedback politely and in a timely manner. This is a great way to show customers and potential customers real world solutions to negative feedback.

Answer posts within 24-48 hours for best results

A speedy response shows first and foremost that you care. Secondly, checking in regularly with your social media accounts allows you to monitor any negative feedback before it gets out of control.

Blogs


Blogs can be a great way to showcase different elements of your business, and are less intrusive than spam emails or hard-to-target direct mail pieces. If built into your website, they can provide a great source for regular content updates – a benefit for search engine optimisation – while also enabling you to showcase your services to your customers. As a digital content channel, blogs allow you to communicate in length with customers.

Tips for the electrical industry

So you built a blog? Time to let people know about it

As well as searching for defined keywords, the latest search engine algorithms pay particular attention to interaction between user and creator. So, if you have something worthwhile to tell your fans or customers about on your blog, why not share it on social media? Not only are you creating back links, but the interaction with the post via social media can have a flow on affect to your rankings in search engines, by telling them that your content is of high value. See the Search Engine Optimisation module for more.

Make sure to vary your topics

There are only so many ways you can disguise a promotion as a blog post, so look beyond that for your blog content. As with social media’s 4-1-1 rule, you may want to consider only posting about your business once for every four other topics you post about. Stay on top of industry news and blog about upcoming events, holidays, or national stories such as changes to electricity pricing, updates in renewable energy, or product innovations from your suppliers.

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