Customer relationship management – CRM for short – is all the activities, strategies and technologies that businesses use to manage their interactions and relationships with customers throughout the customer lifecycle.

While CRM is broader than the technology that’s used to manage these relationships, the term “customer relationship management” is often used to describe the software and systems that support CRM. While customer relationship management generally relies on the use of CRM software, at its heart, it’s a business philosophy and commitment to learn more about customer needs and behaviours in order to develop stronger relationships with them.

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Why is CRM important?

CRM helps businesses build relationships with their customers, creating loyalty, helping with retention and driving sales growth. CRM systems collect customer data across various channels (website, phone, email marketing, etc.) to give companies an insight into customer behaviour and support them to provide a great customer experience.

CRM software gives everyone in your business – from sales to customer service, business development, marketing, finance and more – access to rich customer information. It lets you capture customer contact information, identify sales opportunities, record customer service interactions and personalise the customer experience.

A CRM system gives your customer-facing staff comprehensive information about each customer’s personal details, purchase history and buying preferences, empowering them to build better customer relationships.

What are some benefits of customer relationship management?

  • Drives efficiency and reduces costs: A quality CRM system captures and manages customer information automatically, allowing your team to focus on other value-adding tasks. Rather than jumping between systems to manage the customer workflow and sifting through data and spreadsheets to get customer insights, they can sort, search and view customer details and spending habits at a glance.

  • Supports more effective marketing: Access to comprehensive customer data will allow you to create better marketing campaigns. CRM software lets you sort and segment your customer base and send personalised campaigns that boost conversion.

  • Builds stronger customer relationships: A CRM system helps your team deliver a better customer experience, supported by insights into each customer’s behaviour and interactions with your brand. With customer purchase history and preferences at their fingertips, your staff can serve each customer based on their personalised profile.

What features should I look for in a CRM system?

The right CRM system for your small business will depend on your size, operating model, sector and more. When assessing potential CRM solutions, consider the following factors and how they apply to your business.

  • Cloud connectivity: With a cloud-based CRM system, all team members have access to the same information, all the time, from any location. From customer-facing staff to those fulfilling orders, everyone can rely on its accurate, real-time data to make informed decisions.

    Cloud-based CRM software is generally quick and easy to implement, there’s no hardware to set up or pay for, and system updates are managed centrally by the provider. Tools like Square Customer Directory allow you to view and manage your CRM data from anywhere, on any device.

  • Automation: A good customer relationship management solution will automate most of your customer-related tasks. It should let you import existing customer lists and create instant profiles for new customers at the point of sale.

    All CRM systems have some automation built in. While your small business may not require advanced automation, mechanising some of your customer management activities will save you time and money.

  • Scalability: CRM systems are often priced based on the number of users who’ll access the system. When choosing a CRM solution for your small business, look for one that meets your needs today and gives you scope to grow – both in staff numbers and business complexity. You should also ensure that your data can be exported in a useful format if you decide to move to different CRM software in the future.

  • Reporting: Your CRM will hold loads of valuable information – it should be simple to access powerful reporting from it. Look for CRM software that lets you sort, search and analyse information on an ad hoc basis, as well as create scheduled reports that are emailed to you automatically.

  • Integration with your other systems: A CRM system that integrates with the other systems in your business will mean less manual data entry and fewer errors. Look for a solution that integrates with your accounting, marketing and scheduling software, providing you with a whole-of-customer view.

How do I get started with Square Customer Directory?

Square Customer Directory supports smart customer management that leads to better customer relationships. It lets you upload or update customer details at the point of sale and access information anytime via the Square Point of Sale app. It’s easy to edit, group and manage customers directly from your Square Dashboard – you can even send a personal message to a customer directly from their profile.

Square Customer Directory is free with your Square account. Learn more and get started with Square POS today.