Keeping Track Of Your Customers


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Keep Them Happy and Grow Your Bottom Line

Once you leave your customer’s home or office, they are out of sight, out of mind. So, when they call and need your services, how do you remember them? Having a quality Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program in place can be the solution to ensuring that every call from a customer is handled properly and that your customers receive the service they not only want, but deserve.

“In today’s business environment, it is critical to gain loyalty from your customers and the best way to  do that is to make the process of doing business with you easy,” says Jennifer Davis, vice president of Davis Business Solutions. “CRM soft ware is one of the best ways to do that. It provides your staff with a tool that congregates and organizes all data and information about your customer in one place and  creates a framework around your business process to create consistency in the business process you want in your company. ”

“We have been using the same program, Successware 21, for about 20 years,” says Mike Atchley, president of Atchley Air in Fort Smith, AR. “Because we have been using it for so long, it provides us with a lot history, which is priceless when working with our customers. Everyone on our team can pull up the information they need on the customer, from age of the unit to service performed, right from their smartphone or tablet.”

Rich Biava, vice president at Gaithersburg A/C& Heating in Gaithersburg, MD, adds, “We use ESC, Electronic Service Control software. It’s not perfect, but it has really been a good investment for us. It allows us to manage every aspect of our business in one place.”

How To Select The Right Program

The first step to a quality CRM program is selecting the best software for your company. There are a variety of programs out there and it will take a little bit of research to ensure that you get the one that will meet your needs.

SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK POTENTIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS:

1. What Experience do you have working with a company like mine (size, service offerings, size of market area, residential, commercial, etc.)? You want to find a company who has experience working with companies that are similar to yours, so that you can get the most out of the program. For example, if the company has never worked with a smaller company before, they may have way too many features that could overwhelm you and your staff . On the other hand, if they have never worked with a large company, they may not have enough features for you to be able to track everything you need.

“When we selected ESC they were already working with a lot of residential HVAC contractors, so we knew that they had the experience within our industry,” says Biava. “As we looked into it more, we realized it was pretty easy to manage and pull data from and that was important for us as we moved forward and grew.”

2. Will this software integrate with my other business software? “In an ideal world, you would only need to purchase one software system,” says Davis. “However, that is not always possible, so try to limit the number of programs you are using. And it is critical to make sure that they will integrate properly, otherwise you will have headaches later.”

3. How much flexibility is in the software? As a contractor, your needs may change in terms of what your software can do. It is important to make sure that your soft – ware can change with you. This may mean you want to work directly with the software designer and not just a reseller.

“The flexibility of our software is one of the main reasons we continue to use it,” says Atchley. “It would take an awful lot for me to switch software systems simply because this one not only has our history, but allows us to do most anything we want by adding new modules.”

4. What type of training do you offer? Your software is only as good as what you enter into it, so training your staff to be able to use it is critical. Make sure that the company you choose to work with, has a comprehensive training program and that you will have access to additional training for when you add a new staff member or a new feature is added to the program.

Atchley says, “Successware offers a lot of online training, which is really helpful for when we are trying to implement new modules. We always look at their training schedule and sign up for what we need. Sometimes we will sit through it a couple times to make sure that we have it down.”

“Training on a CRM can be expensive, but it’s worth it,” adds Biava. “We brought in a guy for two days to help teach our team how to use the system correctly and how to manipulate the data. Any system you buy is going to have so much in it that you have to get the training to know how to operate it and make everyone’s life easier in the long run.”

Getting The Most Out Of Your Program

Once you have the right software, make sure that your team is trained to use it. The CRM will be your biggest source of information, but only if you team is putting the information into it properly. Ensure that you have policies in place for what information you want to be able to extract out. There is some obvious information you will want: name; address; phone number; and email. But what else should you be tracking in your CRM?

According to Davis, “The list of information that can be tracked is pretty broad and varies tremendously. One of the advantages of using a CRM is that you can track opportunities with your customers such as upgrades, maintenance agreements, and upsells.”

“We are able to track everything; maintenance agreements, dispatching, and revenue,” says Biava. “It helps us stay ahead of the game, too. For our maintenance agreement customers, we set up a dispatch for them in advance, so when we actually get in contact with them, we just have to add in the date and time for the service.”

“One of the modules we have added recently is the ‘opportunity module,’ which allows us to track when we offer a customer something and they decline,” says Atchley. “This is great for following up with the customer later or generating mailing lists for mailers to get back in touch with them and to remind them we are here to help them.”

“We also use ours for opportunities,” adds Biava. “We grade each system we work on from A to F. Then we code them in the system so we can pull lists by the grades and send out mailers to the customers to encourage them to upgrade or replace their units.”

Good Customer Relationship = Happy Customers

Everyone agrees that good customer relationships help boost profits for a company. By using a CRM you can keep in touch with your customers on a regular basis, which will keep you as their service provider of choice. However, a CRM is not the magic pill to make the relationship work, you have to deliver on the promises you make when you sell anything to the customer.


Posted In: Customer Service, Management, Technology

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