There is no doubt that COVID-19 changed the way businesses function. For brick and mortar locations, social distancing precautions required operational changes. Many businesses needed to follow diminished capacity regulations in their state or area. Most businesses that remained open also had to consider safety features, such as signage and glass partitions, to help keep customers and staff safe. Even businesses that function solely online had to pivot the way that they manage their day-to-day activities.
There have been many pivots to maintain customer relationships during the pandemic that make sense to carry into the future. Hybrid models of meetings, working, and buying make sense when they increase convenience and efficiency. This is where customer management systems can help businesses pivot to meet the growing needs of teams and consumers.
Customer Management Systems to Maintain Relationships
Businesses have always needed to consider their relationships, but now, they need to rethink how they cultivate and build communication differently.
In uncertain times, companies need to employ new strategies to help strengthen bonds with customers. During the pandemic, that meant coming up with unique solutions to bring more engagement to communications that were largely virtual.
This is where targeted customer management systems can help businesses excel. If a company has been using a customer management system, this is a good time to assess the fundamentals, as most businesses don't use their customer management system to its full potential.
A company’s employees might be using any number of other applications. If a company is not connecting all useful platforms and apps to a customer management system, they are probably missing some important data. Their employees are also duplicating steps. For instance, if a company doesn't have its customer management system integrated with the forms on its website, it can't automatically import data.
Just this one small tweak means that the data gathered on the website needs to be manually imported into the customer management system in order to be used. It's an extra step, and businesses can't get the data in real-time from a centralized location.
Ways to Use Customer Management Systems in the Pandemic and Beyond
Customers expect high-quality customer service that's intuitive to their needs. How true is that? Over 60% of customers have stopped doing business with brands when they had a poor customer service experience. That's a pretty stark statistic.
This isn't a trend that's going to change. In order to stay competitive, your customer service initiatives need to be a top priority. In today's ever-connected environment, customer service includes every contact point that your customer makes with your brand. At the checkout counter, on your social media, and on your website. All the places where they find you should mirror the branding and experience that your customer expects.
The good news is that you can use your customer management system to improve the way you communicate with your customers, in all stages of their engagement with your business.
Assess Your Current Process
If you want to improve anything, you need to start where you are. Most companies are not using their customer management systems as efficiently as they can. They may only be using their system for certain activities, or they may only have some departments on board. Start by assessing how your process really works. If your employees are in contact with customers outside your management system, audit where and how you're using other apps and platforms and see if there are ways to integrate for better data and higher efficiency. Improvements here can mean greater efficiency and productivity in the future.
Develop Your Protocol
Once you've assessed the current way your employees are working, you can develop a process going forward that makes more sense and puts all of your technology in place. If there are options to integrate your customer management system so that all of your employees can access real-time data, make sure to get your team on board with a solid protocol everyone can use going forward.
Using Your Automation Tools to Support Your Team
If you're working with a hybrid model or a remote work model, the tools in your customer management system can help you automate tasks that help your team stay on task. Workflows can be set to direct tasks to the right employee and tasks can be streamlined to allow for better productivity.
Marketing Automation to Keep Customers and Employees In the Loop
Your marketing automation processes can do more than run marketing campaigns. They can also be used to keep your customers up to date with messaging that has nothing to do with sales and everything to do with building relationships. This, of course, is also a benefit to your inbound marketing initiatives. More than that, you use the tools to give your customers news as it relates to your company.
You can also use these features to segment communications to your own team and different community members.
Use Your Data to Pivot Effectively
In a time of uncertainty, it's more important than ever to stay on top of current trends and your own data.
Companies have been using the insights to see where their target audience is, what their pain points are, and find ways to meet their needs in an intuitive way. This might include giving your sales department the authority to drop prices or offer sales pricing. It might include developing new services that will resonate in the current climate. It might even mean developing new products.
The reality of a pandemic meant that a lot of businesses needed to close temporarily or permanently. Conversely, it also meant that a lot of new services were in demand. Use your customer management system to get the pulse of your target audience, so you can see where your company can serve them today and into the future.
For more information about innovative and useful retail solutions and customer management systems, visit our Retail Solutions page.
Andreas is Founder and CEO of Ombori. He is a serial entrepreneur who has founded several companies, starting in his teens. He has a background in cybersecurity, and has worked for companies such as H&M and Nordnet Bank. Andreas is a passionate believer in digital transformation, and is constantly seeking ways in which technology can change the way we work, shop, and live our lives.