Customer relationships, automation, business relationships, CRM

Use Your CRM: 10 Tips for Building Stronger Business Relationships

Knowing your customers and meeting their needs is essential to every successful business. Earlier this month, I shared a few thoughts on creating win-win solutions for you and your customers. Not only do I help other businesses organize and systemize their processes, I use Insightly to keep my own business running smoothly. When it comes to building and maintaining strong customer relationships, your CRM can be your most powerful tool. Is your CRM working for you? Here are 10 ways your CRM can help you make connections and strengthen relationships with your customers.

1. Make Connections not Just Contacts

Every connection you make can be the start of a new relationship. You’ve worked hard to build a database of contacts. You’ve reached out to build connections and business relationships, and now you need to maintain these relationships if you want them to be successful. You need to know your customers, who they are and what they do. Besides their occupation, title and company, there are so many things can help you gain a better understanding of who they are and what they do:

  • What is their gender, age and marital status?
  • What are their hobbies or interests?
  • What special occasions (personal and business) do they have coming up?
  • What are their goals and visions?
  • What are their products and services?
  • What are their relationships with their coworkers? (Who works with who?)
  • What new projects are they working on?
  • What events are coming up?

As you gain a better understanding of your your customer is, you can offer products and services that will help them reach their goals. You can remember and acknowledge special occasions. Noting how your customer’s calendar works allows you to offer support during a busy time of the year and helps you remember to reach out when things are slower and they have time to consider new opportunities. Getting to know our customers helps us develop strong relationships and create customer wins.

To really be effective, all of this information should be recorded and made available to everyone on your team. This is where your CRM can be your strongest tool for maintaining successful relationships. On your contact records you can:

  • Use notes to keep track of personal information and preferences.
  • Create custom fields to record pertinent data.
  • Group your contacts by organization and link them to events and projects.
  • Create recurring tasks and schedule appointments with leads or contacts.
  • Add important dates.
  • Set reminders for those dates.

Each of these details helps you gain a better understanding of what your customers need and how you can help them. Thinking win-win, you maintain and strengthen relationships as you foster successes for both of you.

2. Get to Know your Customers Better Through Social Media

Not only can you learn more about their interests and activities, you can see what questions they are asking, what things they are looking for, and which products they are promoting. As you learn more about what your customers are sharing and selling, you’ll know how to reach out to them individually and which services you can offer. This can be hard to update regularly and to track on your own. But now you can automatically add social media profiles and pictures to your Insightly contacts, giving you a current representation of your customer and their interests.

Social media is also a great platform to use for strengthening customer relationships. Sites like Twitter and Facebook provide quick feedback as you ask customers questions about what they need, what updates they would like to see and which features mean the most to them. You can then store this information in your CRM to help provide better products and services.

3. Know the History of your Relationships

Your CRM can link emails, events, tasks and even files to your contacts. In addition to sales history, delivery and follow-up efforts, you can also see:

  • When were your customers last contacted?
  • Who contacted them?
  • How long did it take to respond?
  • What questions did they have?
  • How were those questions answered?
  • What information has been sent to the customer?
  • How did they respond to certain campaigns?

You can even pull reports to give you a better understanding of every action and contact you’ve had with each customer. Using your CRM, this information is available in one place, and accessible to everyone on your team.

  Insightly CRM, Automation, Business Relationships

4. Prioritize and Personalize for More Effective Marketing

You’ve heard about the 80/20 rule as it applies to your customers and sales: About 80% of your total profits will come from about 20% of your total customers. Knowing your customers means knowing how this rule applies to them. Your CRM can track, record and then report activity and sales history that will give you a clear picture of your top customers. With these customers, you know how to create wins. And you can move forward with personalized, targeted campaigns. Prioritizing can then help you allocate your time and efforts in a way that will guarantee that your best customers always get your best service and attention.

While it is good business to devote more resources to your most profitable customers, don’t forget about those on a lower tier. Your top customers didn’t necessarily start there. Building relationships takes time and attention, and all of your customers need to know that they are important to you. In addition to tracking and reporting, business automations within Insightly allow you to reach out to your customers on a regular basis with relative content and customized delivery. This gives you more time to devote to your top performers while still providing quality products and customer service to all of your customers.

5. Go Beyond Sales History

Not only do we want to track what our customers buy, but when and why. Knowing when and why our customers are most likely to buy helps you to better plan a marketing and fulfillment strategy that is customized to each individual client. You want to know

  • What makes your customers feel good about buying from you?
  • What part of the process is most important to them?
  • How do they prefer to be contacted?
  • What do they value most?
  • How can you ensure a positive experience for this customer?

Again, your CRM is your best friend in helping you understand this part of your customer history. In Insightly, you can create custom fields to record this information and pull reports that help you see not only what your customers need and want, but also when they buy and why they make the decisions to do so. You can then schedule tasks reminding you to reach out to your customers at the right time with the right opportunity. This approach creates a win-win as the resulting individualized campaigns are much more successful at meeting the needs of your customers.  

6. Use Business Automations

Business automations are often touted as a way to simplify your workload and free up your time, and they definitely do all of that and more. Your customers want to feel valued. They need to know that their business is important to you. Relationships need a personal touch to grow and be successful. So with too much automation, there is often a fear that the personalization will be lost. However, when you use your CRM in the right way, the opposite is true.

One of the most effective ways to use your CRM is by creating automated workflows. Workflows tell you what to do and when to do it. They are a powerful tool that helps you make sure that the right things are happening at the right time. Contact is made, tasks are created for follow-up, and opportunities are not lost. Workflows can keep business processes moving forward and on track. Insightly shares this example of how a good workflow strengthens relationships:


“Many of us spend inordinate amounts of money on a trade show and then don’t do enough follow-up.  Workflows can fix this problem.  When you return from that next trade show, make sure you’ve got the contact information for everyone who visited your booth (most shows provide this) on a spreadsheet.  Import that spreadsheet and then launch a workflow to assign those leads to the right salesperson based on region, specialty or product line.  Let the workflow automatically send a thank you email to the prospect and then assign a follow-up for the salesperson.  If no action is taken, ensure that a manager is notified.  Depending on the action taken (email reply, etc.) branch off to other processes, like sending product details or adding to a future mailing list.  Even if someone is not interested in your products right now, they could be in the future – even years from now.  So what are you doing to make sure you’re staying in touch with them?  A good workflow will address this need.”

You can use automation such as workflows in all aspects of your business. Workflows can be created to start by date or by event such as when contact is made, when a new product launches, when a project is updated or when a task is completed. This ensures that records are updated, tasks are assigned and completed, and follow-up happens.

7. Create Workflows for Consistent Communication

Regularly reaching out to your customers is essential to maintaining strong relationships. Your customers need to hear from you, they need to know you are there and that the products and services you have to offer are relevant to them. In Insightly, you can create workflows that will  make sure this communication is happening:

  • Workflows can be set in motion if you haven’t heard from a customer within a defined timeframe, assigning a task to reach out.
  • Workflows can include reminders, promotions, other communications related to your sales campaigns.
  • Workflows can be created to follow up with customers based on contact or actions such as sending out a thank you note following a sale.
  • Workflows can also include a response to any contact, letting your customers know it was good to hear from them.

These are just a few ideas for using workflows to help keep your communications consistent and timely. By integrating your CRM with other software such as MailChimp, you can also create automated email campaigns that are customized to each client, adding that personal touch not just in address lines but in content as well. Workflows can make sure that important pieces of each business process are not lost or forgotten.  

8. Build Trust by Providing Valuable Customer Service

The 80/20 rule that we discussed earlier can also apply to customer service. Just as a large share of your profits come from a small percentage of your customers, a small number of complaints can take up a lot of time and cause a lot of dissatisfaction. You can strengthen business relationships by providing excellent customer service, utilizing your CRM to address, resolve and even prevent problems.

In the same way that you use your CRM to record and organize sales information, you can also apply CRM functionality to customer service. A quick response is imperative for resolving customer service issues. Your customers need to know that you are listening and that you care. Automations within your CRM can deliver an instant reply and set the resolution process in motion. Insightly shares how effective this is:

“Customer issues, complaints and questions are logged into the database with workflows designed for follow-up and resolution.  The system is used for maintenance and service calls. Alerts have been configured if customers have certain problems or there are delays.  Reports are generated daily that show management customer calls and resolutions.”

Everything is in place to ensure that your customers’ concerns are addressed, follow through happens, and solutions are found. Automation doesn’t exclude personalization as updates are sent to you through alerts or reports that show how and when issues are resolved. A quick and thorough response shows that you value the relationships you have with your customers.

Insightly can also help you understand the overall effectiveness of your customer service. Because every interaction is recorded and organized, you can then pull reports that answer questions such as:

  • How well are issues handled and resolved?
  • How many cases are opened?
  • How long does it take to close them?
  • How many cases are resolved within a set timeframe?
  • Which team members are responding and/or resolving issues?
  • What is the time and cost associated with each case?
  • Was the customer satisfied with the resolutions?

This information is invaluable in knowing how well you are responding to customers’ needs. It should then be used to help you develop policies and practices that ensure the best level of customer service.

9. Prevent Problems Before they Happen

Your CRM can also help you be proactive as you strive to deliver excellent customer service. By adding notes and customer fields to your contacts, your team will always know what is most important to each customer. Some things to consider:

  • Does your customer prefer an email, a phone call, or a face-to-face conversation?
  • From presentation to shipping to support, what aspect of the sales and delivery process is most critical to them?
  • What is the best way to follow up with your customer to make sure that they are satisfied with your products and services?

Because you are recording this information, you can also pull reports that help identify potential problems, allowing you to put a fix in place before they happen. These reports can also help you see future opportunities to create wins for your customers. Paying attention to these details is yet another way you can strengthen relationships with each of your customers.

10. Don’t Forget to Follow Up

A sometimes neglected, but essential part of excellent customer service is follow-up. Did your customer have a good experience? Are they happy with the results? What do they think about your products and your company? How can you help them in the future? Your CRM can help gather this information with an automated workflow that sends out a thank you email when orders are placed, a customer satisfaction survey after product delivery, and assigns a task to a sales rep to follow up. As you show your customers that you are truly invested in the entire sales and delivery process, you’ll find more ways to meet their needs, offer new products, improve processes and continue to strengthen your relationship.  


A large database of contacts is only as valuable as the connections you make and the relationships you build. Use the power of your CRM to create rich relationships, to prioritize and personalize more effective marketing campaigns and to provide meaningful customer service.

Is your CRM working hard for you? Business Made Simple can help you simplify and automate your business processes so that you can focus on creating wins for you and your customers.

Email me and let’s get started! Or call 801-472-6947 and talk to one of our team members about scheduling a free strategy session for your business.


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