In the past, building a business based on the effectiveness and volume of the production line meant the emphasis was placed on production over human resources; but with the rise of the Internet and unprecedented social media engagement, we have officially entered the era of the service-driven business. Today’s companies have shifted their focus to the customer experience and customer relationships. In many cases, such as with fast food chains, companies organized around the mass-production model of business find they must make significant changes to win back customers lost due to unsatisfactory experiences.
Most businesses have acknowledged this shift in the global marketplace and become service-driven businesses to some extent. As this new model of service emerges, companies change their thinking in some fundamental ways: valuing human resources as much as equipment; prioritizing high-quality recruitment and training; and supporting employees with technology that enables them to do their job more effectively.
One problem stemming from these changes, however, is the difficulty service-driven businesses have in demonstrating a return on investment (ROI) using this model. Without the clear and measurable product sales or limited, easy-to-track campaigns, service-driven companies, such as digital marketing companies, may have the most difficulties following the long tail back to ROI. That’s because service-based marketing campaigns (especially those that include content marketing) are almost always interconnected, making it difficult (if not impossible) to determine which message made the difference. In most cases, the strategies and messages have been built upon each other and act in concert to influence consumer behavior.
What’s more, just because a customer encounters a marketing message doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate time for them to buy. It doesn’t take a marketing survey to recognize that mobile users use their devices (and encounter ads) during all kinds of daily activities, many of which are not naturally conducive to making a purchase. The truth is, unless we directly survey our customers, we may never know when the customer will make that critical decision to buy; nor will we know what combination of messages informed their choice.
Consequently, the rise of tools that track direct purchases based on ad-clicks and site traffic are now supplemented with more direct engagement via social media. More than ever, effectively managing even the minor social interactions your business has with customers makes the difference between a campaign that brings home the proverbial bacon and one that falls flat.
On either end of the black box of ROI, it’s clear the customer experience runs the show in today’s markets. So how does a company have a measurable and repeatable impact? By capturing the intangibles through tracking customer relationships.
Several factors influencing the success of a service-driven business are easily impacted by the effective use of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application:
- Response time to customer requests can make all the difference in customer loyalty. In fact, fifty percent of customers leave if their requests are not responded to within one week. With a CRM, automated alerts and follow-ups help your representatives stay on top of all customer contact. You can also use these alerts to create a white glove experience for your customers by paying attention to easily-retrievable notes on previous conversations and related organizations and customers, then following up with an appropriate offer (and tracking the results).
- These days, most customers also expect a degree of flexibility and customization in exchange for their patronage. Through a CRM, specific customer needs can be tracked easily and are no longer lost in the shuffle. At a touch, a representative can pull up a customer’s entire history, then personalize their support or purchase experience with special offers, loyalty rewards, or other premiums.
- Customers also expect a transparent online presence. With a CRM like Insightly and social media integration, companies can easily manage offline and online conversations with ease, managing and proactively developing their reputation via Twitter or Facebook.
Small businesses in particular are finding CRM business services such as those offered by Insightly a critical component in their customer service, using the tool to track the elements that result in a healthy ROI. Anyone with the proper access permissions can monitor projects and conversations over time, using a customizable, drillable view.
Pipelines and activity sets help translate customer conversations into sales, and project tasks and milestones allow for effortless workflow management that constantly keeps the big picture goals present while allowing you to focus on the tasks at hand. And a robust range of reports gives you real-time insight into opportunities that can help you manage your pipeline.
In an era of service-driven business, you need an edge. With some key strategic thinking and an emphasis on effective and thorough relationship management using a CRM, small businesses can gain a deeper understanding of their target market, a more effective (and demonstrable) ROI, and a stronger bottom line.
About Megan Totka
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.