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Chris Willow
Founder of SPP
Last updated on September 13th, 2023

Top 11 Most Effective Customer Relationship Management Tips

Key points

  1. Customer relationships are essential for business success, and effective customer relationship management involves a combination of strategy, communication, and tools to improve customer retention, loyalty, and advocacy.
  2. Customer relationship management (CRM) software provides benefits such as process automation, improved team visibility and collaboration, enhanced customer experience, and greater efficiency and ROI.
  3. To build effective customer relationships, focus on stellar customer support, practice active listening, engage with customers on social media, customize your communications, and implement loyalty programs.

Effective customer relationship management is like a game of building blocks. It requires a combination of strategy, communication, and tools to be successful—and while it may not be the most low-effort endeavor ever, it can pay off in terms of customer retention, loyalty, and advocacy.

Unfortunately, not everyone masters customer relations. Some forego them altogether, while for others, it’s all about the transactional elements of their customer relationships. Still, putting in the effort to go beyond this means tapping into a goldmine of potential insights and creating meaningful relationships with your customers.

How do you work towards that and create an effective customer relationship management strategy?

I have some tips for you—keep reading to find out more.

What are customer relationships?

In its broadest definition, the term customer relationships refer to the interactions, experiences, and connections between a customer and your business. However, there’s more to it than just that.

In general, customer relationships are managed from two main perspectives:

  • Relationship-based (where customers come first, and sales are often made based on the relationship between the sales rep and the customer), and

  • Transactional or rule-based (where the focus lies on getting the job done).

For a long time, rule-based business transactions have been regarded as better, and there’s value in that. In a rule-based scenario, people get hired because they are the most competent, and processes are simplified, leading to more efficiency.

Relationship-based cultures focus on building strong customer relationships by treating customers as friends.

They recognize that a customer base comprises individuals with different needs and preferences. They show empathy, extend themselves beyond their product, and treat customers with genuine attention.

That kind of close relationship connects them and your business. As such, these companies put in extra effort to get to know the customer and build trust, which leads to higher customer retention and loyalty.

Of course, offering real value in exchange for your customers’ resources is still a crucial customer retention strategy. Ideally, you will want to mix the transaction-driven and relationship-based approaches to create a fully harmonious customer experience.

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The impact of customer relationship management

Dealing with each client’s very specific, particular needs and expectations can be a time-consuming process. Doing it manually can be downright impossible, especially when you need multiple team members to access the same source of truth.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software eliminates some of these challenges by helping to streamline the whole process. With it, you can understand customer expectations better, segment new customers, and easily access their data and history efficiently, transparently, and securely.

There is clear value in the CRM niche. If 2022 the entire CRM market was valued at $64.41 billion, in 2023, it was valued at $71.06 billion—and forecasts say it will reach no less than $157 billion by 2030.

Customer relationship management isn’t just a growing market. Businesses find real benefits in using these types of tools. In fact, 70% of salespeople think a CRM is crucial in closing deals and 80% of businesses see CRM as essential beyond sales and customer care.

The specific advantages of using an agency CRM include the following.

Process automation

Automating customer relationship processes can save your business time and money—and CRM tools are built for that. When you use a customer relationship management software, you can automate mundane tasks such as customer follow-ups, reminders, and notifications.

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This allows your team to spend more time on high-value customer segmentation or personalization activities.

On top of that, tools such as Service Provider Pro allow you to create intake forms and send the gathered data to external software. This ensures that your data is easily shared between platforms without your team having to copy it manually.

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Improved team visibility and collaboration

CRM systems provide a centralized platform where all customer data is stored in one place and can be accessed by everyone who needs it. That means different teams can collaborate easily to find the information they need and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Customer loyalty and retention boost

When you use customer data and segmentation to address customer needs, build trust, and provide personalized experiences, you will see an increase in customer loyalty and retention rates. Enhanced customer loyalty means increased value for your business through repeat purchases and referrals.

Enhanced overall customer experience

By using a good CRM to understand customer behavior and preferences, you can offer tailored solutions and create a better customer experience. The end result is that customers are more likely to stay with your business for longer and become loyal advocates of your brand.

Greater efficiency and ROI

CRM software enables you to reduce costs by streamlining activities such as customer onboarding, data entry, or customer feedback management. This can result in greater efficiency and a higher return on investment.

11 methods for building customer relationships

Tools are helpful—but they can’t do all the work for you. Here are some methods to ensure your customer relationship management strategy yields the desired results.

Focus on stellar customer support

Focus on customer service and ensure customers are never left waiting too long or treated as if their questions don’t matter. Even if you’re running low on resources, ensure you find a way to deliver the best customer service and set the right expectations from the get-go. It’s far better to reply to customer inquiries in 48 hours (and let them know about this) than promise a two-hour response time (and be late on it).

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Here are some of the most important tips to increase customer satisfaction:

  • focus on the customer’s needs first

  • follow up with customers after every interaction

  • build a knowledge base on your website

  • provide multichannel support

  • listen to customer feedback

  • empathize with customers and take ownership of their problems

  • deliver quality every time, on time

  • create reports your customers can easily access

Use active listening

With active listening, you can better understand customers’ needs and preferences. You must listen carefully, read between the lines, and ask clarifying questions where necessary.

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Keep the following tips in mind to make sure you actively (and actually) listen to your customers during video calls:

  • maintain eye contact

  • avoid distractions

  • don’t interrupt the speaker

  • show interest and understanding

  • take notes

  • ask questions

  • show appreciation

Employ social media customer engagement 

Social media is a great tool for engaging with your customers and building relationships that improve customer satisfaction. You can post surveys, gather feedback, and reach out to customers who have shared a post or shown interest in working with your business. You can also respond to customer questions, comments, and reviews—and jump into conversations related to your industry.

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Remember that you might also have to manage less-than-positive customer reviews and interactions on social media. If a customer has had a bad experience, don’t just ignore it—address the issue and offer a public apology. Also, try to bring the discussion in private (as much as possible) and avoid displaying a defensive behavior (it can hurt your reputation and make things worse).

Customize your communications

Today’s customers have high expectations when it comes to communications. When you customize your messages, you show that you are truly addressing the individual customer. Go beyond a simple “Dear customer” and use the customer’s name, preferences, or past purchase history to personalize your communications. Keep in mind that good customer segmentation is essential if you want to achieve this level of personalization.

Make also use of all features of your client portal software to achieve this level of personalization. For instance, a project intake form can help you gather all the information you need to address customer needs. The more personalized your project delivery, the higher the customer satisfaction.

Implement loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are a great way to reward customers for their commitment to your brand.

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Whether you offer discounts, points programs, or VIP levels, the idea is to reward customers for being loyal and encourage them to stick around.

Always be transparent

Being transparent with customers is essential for building trust-driven relationships with customers. That means being honest about your products or services, how you use customer data, and what they can expect from your services. It might be tempting to over-inflate expectations to make the customer happy, but that will only hurt your business in the long run.

Run surveys and ask for feedback regularly

Asking customers for feedback is the best way to understand their experience with your business. Whether it’s a quick, one-question survey or structured questionnaire, or if you just ask your sales reps to get customer feedback regularly, try to gather customer insights as often as possible.

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Remember that collecting feedback is one thing, but you must act upon it.

Share useful content

Creating and sharing content that is helpful to customers can be a great way to show you care. This might include informative articles, educational videos, or even podcast episodes. Keep in mind that quality matters more than quantity. Ensure your content is useful and relevant to the customer before sharing it with them.

Follow up after each delivery

As an agency owner, you want to ensure your customers get their orders on time without hiccups, and that they are happy with it. To do this, should follow up and ask for feedback. Keep in mind that some clients, especially B2B ones, might not want to be bothered about every project, especially if they order in bulk.

customer follow-up after delivery

With that said, follow-up emails or calls help you strengthen your relationship with your customers, enabling you to catch any issues before they become a bigger problem.

Remain consistent in your branding

Creating a consistent branding experience is about more than just marketing. Sure, your marketing team will create your brand’s visual identity, but it’s also important to remain consistent in how you communicate with customers.

This means using the same colors, branding elements, logo, tone, language, and even humor in all your communications. The more consistent you are, the more human and real your customer relationships will be.

Create a referral program

Referral programs allow you to increase your customer base without investing time and money in marketing campaigns. With a referral program, you incentivize existing customers to share their experiences with their peers, thus recommending your services to them.

According to the Wharton School of Business, referral clients have a 16% better customer lifetime value (when measured over a six-year horizon). Moreover, 78% of marketers say referral campaigns bring in good-quality leads—so while referral programs do play a role in loyalty and retention, they can also play a solid role in customer acquisition too.

A tool like Service Provider Pro can help you manage your agency customers, orders, and referral campaigns—all from the same dashboard, to make communication, collaboration, and transparency as easy as possible. What’s more, our tool was created specifically for agency-related challenges, so you can rest assured it will help you streamline the process and make it easier to build better customer relationships.

Conclusion

Whether we like it or not, relationships aren’t an exact science. When dealing with humans, misunderstandings, miscommunications, and disagreements are always a possibility. However, with our tips in mind, you will be better prepared to build strong relationships with your customers that will stand the test of time, bring more ROI into your business, and help you attract better-quality leads.

The good news?

If you apply yourself and try to learn from each customer interaction, you’ll be well on your way to building great relationships with your customers.

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