Technology innovations, shrinking product lifecycles and increased global competition have undeniably changed the way we do business. These factors, along with higher customer expectations, also have dramatically altered the customer relationship. Today, understanding and anticipating customer needs ahead of the competition is essential for all small businesses to succeed.
It’s one thing to sufficiently meet customer requests, but it is quite another to anticipate those needs in advance. “If you truly understand your customers today and what their vision is for tomorrow, you can better predict their needs,” says Christopher Finnecy, partner at Trellispoint, a CRM business solutions consultancy firm in Brecksville. “By doing that you can not only improve sales and revenue, but you can set yourself apart from the competition, build loyalty and establish your business as one that values its customers.”
Don’t be afraid to invest the time and money in tools that can help you monitor and understand customer buying habits and your sales relationships to help you make strategic decisions to personalize your customer interactions. “There are plenty of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools available for small business to use that don’t come with a large financial commitment,” Finnecy says. He cites Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce.com, and Infor CRM (formerly SalesLogix), as the best of the breed in CRM solutions. “As you grow, the products grow with you, and they can be customized and tailored to your business needs and wants.”