Building a Strong Customer Relationship

Which do you spend more time on, marketing to find new clients, or creating a stronger bond with existing clients?

Whether you call them clients, students, or customers, the people who have done business with you in the past are your best source of future business — either directly or indirectly through referrals. In the vernacular of business, it costs six times more to get a new customer than it does to make a sale to an existing client.

From a holistic perspective, people derive the most benefit from an ongoing relationship with your service rather than just attending a session or two. It’s incumbent upon us to make it easy for people to incorporate holistic practices into their lives.

But how do you manage to stay in contact with your clients? Can you instantly pull up relevant information about them, especially the basics like their address? Do you have the capability to send a letter about a special promotion, or know when the last time a certain client used your services?

The process of keeping track of your customers, and using this process to maintain a long-term business relationship is called customer relationship management (CRM). CRM involves utilizing the data collected during your customer interactions in a meaningful way.

In other words, CRM is the opposite of having a pile of hand-written slips of paper with sketchy customer information.

CRM can be as simple as a spreadsheet of clients with pertinent contact information, or as complex as a relational database that allows you to analyze demographics and business opportunities.

From a holistic standpoint, CRM helps you stay in contact with your clients even when they are not utilizing your services. How do you proactively reach out to your current students/clients on an ongoing basis?

One key aspect of CRM is your database. Before we can talk about utilizing different marketing tactics (such as email newsletters or postcard marketing), we need to touch upon how you are managing your contacts currently. Knowing this helps you decide what format you can immediately use and what infrastructure you need to support new methods of customer relations.

When someone works with you, how do you capture the information? Do you have new clients fill out a form, complete a sign-in sheet, or gather a personal history? Where do you place that information — in a spreadsheet, a word processing program, a contact management program, or in a paper system? What do you do with the information currently?

Believe it or not, this database is extremely valuable.

For marketing purposes, the absolute minimum data to collect is: name, address, telephone and email address. It also helps to ask the question, “How did you hear about my services?”

For my business, I use Microsoft Outlook® to manage my contacts, as well as to keep my schedule, email, and to-do list. Basically it’s my office manager. From Outlook, I export the contacts into another program that automatically generates labels (it’s also from Microsoft called small business manager) for direct mail campaigns.

You can even use a simple spreadsheet program like excel to keep track of your database.

It doesn’t matter whether you use a software program or not. What does matter is that you’re aware of your process, so you can see whether it supports you in your business goals or hinders you. Sometimes we stick with a process just because it’s a habit, not because it is the best choice. Play with the idea of bringing your awareness to your business infrastructure just like you would examine your edges in your holistic practice.

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