Keeping your customers happy is so important when there are other suppliers they could choose from. In the previous articles, we have explored how to ensure that your company selected the right business telecoms, email service and platform for website development. In part four of our series, we look at making sure you are prepared for an area that could very well define the success of your company, customer management. Customers will ultimately define how successful your business is in the short and long-term, so mismanagement is something that you have to avoid at all costs.
When you start a new business, the chances are you will not have a long list of clients, but it is imperative that you set yourself up from the very start. Having the right software in place will ensure that you do not have to make any drastic changes when your company starts to develop.
How can I manage my customers?
It doesn’t matter whether you are offering a single service or selling thousands of products from an e-commerce platform, every customer is valuable. Making sure you treat each customer with the respect they deserve is important because while one customer may initially be very profitable, it does not mean they will be the best long-term customer.
Regardless of the number of customers you have, managing them efficiently is important. The solution is to ensure that you are meticulous and systematic. The reality is that you can never have too much information on a client, which means you need appropriate software in place to be able to store (and recall) this information without spending hours trying to enter (or locate) it. Micromanagement using a CRM (customer relationship management) system may seem a bit over the top, but when you expand to have hundreds of customers it becomes harder to remember their details. Having this system in place can be the difference between retaining the customers and losing them. Many CRM systems allow you to record information which may appear somewhat arbitrary, such as their birthday or a random fact, but the personal touch can mean a lot to a customer.
What program should I use?
As Google Apps users ourselves (practice what you preach!), we managed to find a CRM called Insightly which integrates seamlessly with our email, contacts and calendars, both in Outlook and on our mobile devices. This is great when I make an onsite visit to see a client as I can review their entire history with us and look up any information such as lost passwords that I may need. This means that even the least experienced members of staff can find everything they need without bothering anybody else.
Scalability played a factor here since this Insightly/Google Apps combination can feasibly scale to hundreds of consultants and thousands of clients. There are many solutions available and a few hours research will really pay dividends in the future.
What about my accounting?
While customer management is important, you also need to consider your bookkeeping and accounts from the very start. Accounting could eventually end up setting you back thousands of pounds a year, so making sure you have the right software from the start is important.
Too many people make the mistake of using Excel to track their finances. However, Excel hasn’t specifically been designed for this purpose, which means that data entry and tracking your activities is not business friendly at all.
Implementing professional software from the very start is the answer, and QuickBooks offers a great solution for SMEs. Not only is it simple to use, but it also syncs with various CRM systems so you don’t have to worry about entering the same customer data twice. With invoice tracking and quotes that take just a couple of minutes, using QuickBooks can save you a lot of time. One could argue that while there is the initial expense, as QuickBooks saves you time every tax year, it pays for itself pretty quickly. In fact, many businesses can negotiate a discount with their accountant as this software makes their job less time consuming.
On top of the time saving, the reporting features can give you an invaluable insight into your business. You can easily find out which products/services are the most popular and, more importantly, the most profitable in a way that Excel simply can’t handle.
If you’d like to discuss how software could be introduced into your business, and at what cost, why not give us a call? We’d be happy to have a no-obligation chat with you about streamlining your IT.