Best Practices in Customer Management

“Customer Service is everything and anything that touches a customer – directly or indirectly. Customer service means servicing customers, and it’s so much more than just solving problems or addressing complaints. Customer service is part of a holistic customer experience that is capable of providing a critical competitive advantage in today’s increasingly cluttered and commoditized marketplace.” – Joseph Jaffe

The quote above is a clear indication of what the best practices in customer management should be. A clear focus on what customers expect – these expectations go beyond just providing them with solutions or sorting out issues. The focus must lie on providing top class experiences throughout the ‘journey’ of a customer with the company, such that customers feel engaged, and emotionally connected with the company. The fact is that there is, still a very small percentage of companies that are able to see any results from their efforts, despite investing in various customer relationship management ideas and tools. Companies continue to make efforts without having a clear path and vision in mind, and do not know and understand the basic best practices in customer management. Customers now increasingly expect companies to work towards forging deep emotional bonds and connections with them, become more than just business partners, and be able to provide them with in-depth support that would go beyond the confines of the business association.

Companies that follow best practices in customer management, know that CRM is essential to supporting and executing a successful relationship with their customers. CRM becomes a series of processes and meticulous strategies that would create and continually enhance value for their customers, make the company a preferred partner, and retain the most profitable customers over a very long time. One of the best practices in customer management, then would be to have a laser focus on developing a deep relationship with its most valuable and profitable customers. It is all about putting the customers and their needs first, and not engaging their resources and workforce in activities that would have no positive effect on customers. By understanding the best practices in customer management, companies would have a clear vision of how these practices would change and benefit them and their customers. The companies would be able to understand exactly what customers perceive as value, and what they should do (or not) in order to build stronger bonds and emotional connections between customers and their brand, and positively influence customer perception such that customers increasingly buy more.

As time moves on, and companies acquire new technology, it should be possible for them to gain a better grasp and newer perspective with regard to CRM and the best practices in customer management. It would be possible to gain a holistic, accurate, and real-time view of each customer, making customized solutions and products a reality. It is all about giving unique value propositions to customers, through a variety of ways. A company that understands the value of best practices in customer management, would modify or even change its vision in order ensure that its relationship with customers is a long, and durable one, and gains for it a competitive advantage like no other.

Companies following best practices in customer management would be better equipped to use CRM tools and strategies in order to adapt and remain agile to the ever-changing market and industry, without affecting the quality of what they do, or compromising on their business’ long-term vision. Keeping the best practices in customer management in the forefront helps a company build strategic capability of listening and responding to customers swiftly and efficiently – an aspect that scores very high on the list of customer preferences. Customers want to engage with companies that do not make them wait and are able to provide them with the most suitable solutions, customized products, and top class customer service.  Companies ‘high on’ customer focus, understand that CRM initiatives are critical to their success, and towards that end employ CRM technology and tools. The companies then focuses on their chosen core customers in order to ensure that these customers not only ‘stick’ with the company, but also provide increased and repeat business, provide testimonials, and act as the company’s brand advocates, thereby gaining new customers for the company.

Companies using and understanding the best practices in customer management also understand that data that provides information about their customers is as vital as any other critical to business data (such as financial) it may have. They use this data to increase ROI and to gain a better understanding of the customers and their needs. In doing so, they manage and alter customer behaviour to their advantage, changing most customers to profitable ones, which in turn adds to their success and reputation. In the current competitive marketplace, every company needs to stand out by appearing unique and offering something differentiated to their customers, and hence it is vital to keep track of what customers need currently, and what would allow them to have a positive impression of the company in the future.

Measuring the effects of the best practices in customer management, help a company to decide how much they need to invest in retaining their existing profitable customers, and what they should spend on attracting new customers to replace unprofitable customers and those that leave. For companies this amounts to huge savings and proper utilization of resources. Rather than spending thousands of dollars on a large and partly unprofitable customer base, they would focus fewer amounts on only the profitable and loyal customers. This in turn, keeps the company’s most profitable customers happy since the company would make them feel important, valued, and special. Customers love to know that their business is priority for a company, and when they perceive benefits from associating with a company, they tend to stay on.

Another one of the top best practices in customer management is measuring and monitoring customer attitudes and behaviours. Without understanding the level of customer satisfaction, how favourable they would be to buy from the company again, and what would trigger their decisions to buy, it would be hard for a company to put in place accurate strategies to make improvements in all these realms. It would be necessary to track the spending patterns of their customers to understand when and on what a customer would be spending the most and how often. A company could then send relevant data and product information to customers depending on the customer’s preferences. Doing so would let the customers know that the company understands their needs and choices, while also saving time and effort for customers to look for the products and offerings that they would specifically want.

The premise of understanding and putting to use the best practices in customer management is to move from traditional methods and marketing strategies, to contemporary dynamic strategies, keeping pace with the changing needs, moods, and expectations of customers.  As technology changes, and the ‘face’ of new customers undergoes a transformation, companies would need to adapt to these fresh perspectives. However, the foundation of customer experiences and best practices in customer management would remain the same. For companies aiming to provide stellar service and top quality products, it would be essential to stand firm with best practices and give customers exactly what they need and want – however, unpredictable it may be.

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