How small businesses can enhance their customer relations

How small businesses can enhance their customer relations
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Corporations that stay connected with their customers tend to have an edge over their competitors. This is because they build a rapport by placing themselves in the customer's shoes, imagining what the customer actually expects from the company, and then tailoring products and services to fulfill the expectations.

For example, Apple mostly tops the list when it comes to customer relating and expectations. The Cupertino-based company makes products based on the future imagination of consumers, primarily the reason why the devices become an integral part of their lives.

Small businesses can also thrive in the market by shifting their focus towards superior customer relating abilities. There are at least three vital areas which can be targeted for this goal to be achieved.

1.  Information

The information context doesn't only include the information about the clients. Rather, it extends to all sorts of business relationships, mostly tracked through contract management. However, many organizations fail to acknowledge contract fulfillment, which is a necessity instrument through which commitments and essential elements of business transactions are defined.

Multiple studies have verified that contracts represent key assets for building a competitive advantage for today’s multi-dimensional business culture. A company can use the client information to streamline the contract life cycle.

Four phases can be distinctly outlined here:

• 1.  Architect (Designing)

• 2.  Engage (Use information)

• 3.  Operate (Execution)

• 4.  Regenerate (Use and update the template for future)

The idea is to employ virtual strategies to streamline the goals that have been mentioned above. Contract Logix’s contract management system becomes an ideal example in this instance. They are employing 3 different approaches to complete the cycle as soon as possible. Moreover, the nature of the system will lay down the foundation for future growth.

2.  Configuration

Configuration of the enterprise mostly targets the incentives, metrics and frameworks that align it to build customer relationships. A relevant example in this case is that of General Electric, whose subdivision Aircraft Engine Business Group couldn't figure out why its customers were not happy despite satisfactory internal metrics.

However, they later discovered that their productivity could be improved by including customer responsiveness, reliability and value ad services metrics at individual scales. This led to a revitalized CRM strategy, which serves as an effective case study to this day.

3.  Orientation

Many startups and small businesses suffer from a “Red Queen Syndrome” of sorts. The Red Queen hypothesis in the business sense translates to the fact that despite enterprises going faster and faster, they stay in the same place. This is where the notion of orientation comes in. While a business may spend a large chunk of money on CRM tools such as databases, software and data mining, it shouldn’t be done on a reactive basis.

Orientation refers to the fact that the clientele is a concern for all business departments and not just the marketing or sales workflows. The orientation becomes flawed when one segment like sales is diverting all data to its hierarchy. It has to be integrated. The potential useful information such as customer history, vulnerabilities and demands are a dataset that should be shared within the entire organization’s workflows.

Orientation also includes the generation of a judicious portfolio of metrics. A company may have CRM tools at hand, but how are they using them to improve customer relating abilities?

Nokia, before its surrender to the smartphone wave, was an excellent case study for such strategies. It had successfully run its $28 billion mobile industry a decade back by splitting it into nine customer units, each with its indigenous R&D and CRM tools.

Commonplace metrics such as customer loyalty and satisfaction are not enough. Integrate them with metrics such as employee retention, customer complaints and overall company performance. Companies can match that with the cost to acquire and serve customers, showing which “orientation” is best to generate/retain clientele.

These 3 strategies will go a long way in improving customer relating capability and transforming it into current and future conversions.