Whether your goal is lining up one new customer a day or one a month, having a strategy to manage customer leads will save you time and energy. This is the second of a four-part series on CRM, customer relations management. Read the first part, “Getting the Most Out of a Lead”, here.
Organizing your leads in CRM, or customer relationship management, can be a chore, especially when you have hundreds of leads. Here are a few tips to keep your leads manageable.
Create Relationship Categories
Take a look at a handful of your existing leads, and think about how you know them. Are they former colleagues or strangers? Were they a referral from an existing customer, or did you gather their contact information from the internet? Come up with five or six categories that are not too specific so they can be used for different situations. For example, “Trade Show Attendee” is a better category than “AHR Expo 2015”, so it can be used for other trade shows you’ve gotten contact information for. You can always add extra, more specific information about the lead in your notes section. One piece of advice is to not use a number or code for a category — it’s one more thing to remember.
Keep ‘Status’ Updated
The status of a lead is important. You want to know whether the lead is likely to buy your service in the near future. Use “new” for leads you haven’t contacted. Then, change the lead’s status in your CRM system as their level of interest in your service changes.
Use “met”, “engaged” or “contacted” after the first contact and are still unsure if the customer is qualified to buy. Once you believe the customer is a possibility, use a status such as “hot”, “possible” or “future”. A lead that becomes a client can have their status updated to “active”, or simply move this customer’s information into your customer database. When a lead fizzles out, change the status to “inactive” instead of deleting their information — you never know if their situation will change.
Rate the Lead’s Quality
An easy-to-use rating system can help you sort through leads that have the same status. You can rank leads using a scale of 1 to 3, or if you have many leads, 1 to 5. A rating of “1” could mean that the lead’s company is young and unstable, or has a mediocre reputation. Whereas a “5” could be used for high-volume organizations with a highly respected reputation.
Assign Leads to the Right Employee
Every employee has his or her own strengths that should be considered when assigning leads. An employee with experience in fireplaces might not be best to pitch your services to plumbers, just as experienced employees might be better pitching your services to large corporate organizations. Randomly assigning leads is also an option, but your odds of landing a new customer increase when you can match your sales person to the right prospect.
Keeping your leads organized will make reviewing your leads less of a hassle. The Service Proz Solution contains a CRM module that allows sales staff to enter contact information for your lead. Within the module, staff can type notes after every contact or “touch” with the prospect. The system shows all this information in an organized layout, for both desktop and mobile viewing.
How do you organize your leads? Tell us in the comments section.
Nestled deep in the French Alps is a small little French town called Tignes. The town’s sole purpose is to cater to those crazy people who call attaching fiberglass planks to their feet and sliding down steep slopes covered in snow; FUN. From the multiple ski schools, to the abundance of après-ski watering holes, to the service professionals who are conveniently multi-lingual, Tignes truly delivers the FULL ski vacation experience. Why am I talking about a small town in France you might ask? Because you should run your home service business the way this town is run. With the customer in mind: at all times.
The customer is your end game, your bread winner, the reason, essentially, for your existence. You should run your company accordingly. Did you know that a dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience? (White House Office of Consumer Affairs). This can be detrimental to your business, especially with the existence of popular review sites such as Yahoo reviews, Angies List, Twitter, and more. Your dirty laundry will be aired for everyone to see before you even have a chance to respond and limit the potential damage. Your main business objective, particularly as a home service business, should be to provide the BEST customer service, all the time. What are some things that you can do to cater to your customer in your line of business? See the examples below and make sure they are implemented at your company:
- Listen. Don’t forget the power of just listening to a potential customer or current customer. By taking the time to really listen to what a customer needs, or wants, you eliminate misinterpretations, errors, and dissatisfaction with the outcome.
- Make your customers’ lives easier. Give them easy to access information through your website and social media networks. Respond in real time (don’t leave them waiting a day, or days for a call back), provide them with a customer portal, and offer options like making appointments through Facebook, emailed invoices, and more.
- Follow up. Ensure that your customers have received everything they were looking for, ask for feedback, and correct any mistakes by following up with the customer after you have provided service. Whether you do it through email or with a call (which is more personal), following up with your customers demonstrates that you care what they think, and can often lead to a good testimonial for your business.
Putting the customer first is often cited as one of a business’s core values however many businesses do not actually put this into practice. It’s common to hear phrases such as “Putting the customer first”, “We value our customers,”or “Our customers are our number one priority.” While these phrases are plentiful within service businesses, take a step back for a moment and ask yourself “how many of my customers actually feel valued?” Following the three steps above is a start to ensuring that your customers feel valued, and you maintain a happy, growing customer base.
The town of Tignes is an example of a customer –centric operation that really knows how to make their customers feel valued so that they return in the future and tell everyone about having such a great experience.
Can you say the same about your business?
Customer service is an integral part of business at any company, and good customer service can be the difference between a successful and failing company. Why is that? Because customers are the bread and butter of any business, and the way your company attends to your customers’ needs and demands determines their loyalty to your brand. Sometimes though, in any company, it is hard to cater to exactly what your customers want. When you start a home service company, or help to manage one, there is generally a specific vision in mind for how the company is going to be run, what services you are going to offer, and how you are going to appeal to your target market. However, you want to make sure that you are also considering what it is that customers want from YOU, other than the services you provide. Doing so will help you provide effective customer service so here are five things that customers want from their home service company.
- Knowledgeable staff: Home service customers want the people providing them with services to be experts in their field. After all, they are entrusting you and your staff with one of their most prized possessions; their home. If you are a cleaning company, ensure that your staff can communicate effectively with your clients, including a thorough knowledge of the products you use and what steps you take when cleaning to maximize health benefits. Provide a background of your company emphasizing your expertise.
- Friendly staff: Customers are also looking to have a good relationship with the people at your company, as well as trusting that your staff is well-informed and skilled. Customers want to interact with courteous, friendly, staff members. This shows that your company values the customer’s business and that your staff enjoys their jobs.
- Good value: This is where the price matters. Customers are looking to get what they paid for. They are looking for quality service for a low price. They look to have their expectations exceeded. However, price is only one component of the “value package.” Customers consider good value to be a combination of price, service, and experience. You may be a plumbing company that charges a little more an hour then your neighborhood competitor. However, if part of your service includes explaining everything you are going to do and providing an estimate before starting a home project, wiping the floors and cleaning the area when you are done, and then following up with the customer the next day to see how the repairs are, a customer will probably consider your services to be of good value.
- An online presence: In this day and age, customers want to be able to go online and find your company. They look for a clear, well thought-out website that visibly displays what services your company offers, contact information and third party validations (customer testimonials). They also look on sites such as Angie’s List or Yelp to verify the legitimacy and popular opinion of your company. An on-line presence gives a sense of authenticity, breadth, and business understanding.
- Timeliness: Being on time and reliable is one of the most important things to customers. Customers want to be able to count on their service providers to arrive when they scheduled to, or provide proper notification if that is not possible. Having scheduling, billing, and contact management software will help keep you and your staff to stay on top of appointments, helping you present yourself as an accountable company to your customers.
How can you keep up with what your customers really want? Listening to your customers is important, as is keeping up with the latest news, trends, and developments in your specific industry, and in the overall customer service industry as well. Giving your customers what they really want will, in turn, give you what YOU really want; a successful home service business.
All businesses face pressures and the risk of closing their doors if things don’t work out. As a small home service business, you’re probably feeling some pressure to ensure that your business survives and you’re sometimes under some stress, whether it’s noticeable to you or not. While there is no recipe for guaranteed success, here are three basic mistakes you can avoid to increase your chances for long-term success.
1. Targeting Everyone
If you’re Apple or Walmart, then you can probably get away with trying to target the mass population to buy your products because breadth often comes with being a big company. But as a small business you need to be more careful and focused about where you exert your efforts. This is called market segmentation and creating a target market. Here you need to understand what’s driving your customer; their needs and reasons for buying. If you target too broad a market then you may quickly find yourself overstretched with insufficient resources to cope.
2. Not Sticking With Your Brand
It takes time, but customers recognize your brand – the logo, color, message, words. Everything. Changing this often and with no structure confuses your target market meaning that they will not identify you and then forget you. Pick a brand. Pick an identity and stick with it. It is also worth it to spend a little money on developing your brand identity. In the graphic design world you need to spend more to get better quality. Doing this initially will save you money in the future.
3. Ineffective Pricing
This may seem obvious as your pricing strategy drives sales of your products and services. Set this too high and customers may switch to a cheaper competitor. But setting too low can have disastrous consequences because you may not cover your costs and raising the price afterwards doesn’t mean more revenues for you; increased price deters demand and will cause you to lose customers. The price therefore needs to find the balance between revenues, costs, and demand. Setting the price low doesn’t necessarily mean you’re undercutting the competition; you may actually be driving yourself out of business.
Evaluate your business. Are you using these three tips to ensure that your business is on the path to success? If not, trying focusing on these as they are a good place to start. It may save you in the future. Best of luck!