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Customer Relationship Management for a Decoration Business

The relationship with customers is one of a product decoration business’s most important investments.  Now, this is not a traditional “investment” in that the method of investment is not money (at least directly).  Rather, the investment in your relationships with customers are made in time and effort. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is an approach to cultivating and growing a business’s sales through the acquisition of new customers and the retention of current customers.  The three main aspects of CRM are sales, marketing, and service.

Sales

Typically, the first direct interaction a product decoration business will experience with a customer is through sales.  This is the step where you turn prospective clients into paying customers. Clear and direct communication is necessary to ensure that you are fulfilling the customers’ needs, especially when it comes to designs.  It is critical that you and your customer are on the same page before printing, because once a product has been decorated it cannot be undone. At that point, you can only sell an imperfect product to your customer or print a new product and lose money on the old one.  By collecting the right information in the sales process, a decoration business can better understand their customers and ultimately customize their offerings to each customer. Sales is the initiation of the relationship with a customer and is a vital part of the process of CRM.   

Customer Service

Customer service is the most important aspect of CRM when it comes to retaining existing customers.  Customer service must be able to guide a customer throughout the buying process, before, during, and after purchase.  While certain aspects of customer service must be performed person-to-person (like final design approval), there are several aspects that can be automated or handled without speaking to a customer, saving time and labor costs. FAQ pages offer answers to common problems, phone calls can be partially or wholly automated, and emails can be sent automatically upon request (for things like receipts, shipping confirmation, and print updates).  Being able to successfully address and tend to customers’ needs and concerns throughout the purchasing process can be time-consuming. If a customer is continually updating a design or trying to change it late in the process, then it can cause lots of problems. However, when it is necessary to communicate directly with customers having an informed and effective customer service department is crucial to customer satisfaction. 

If you operate locally, consider not answering the phone or not offering a direct phone line to customers.  Customers seeking to place small orders can lead to losing money by simply wasting time talking over the phone.  The same issue arises with walk-in customers as well. Also, do not let customers provide their own products for you to decorate.  Not only may you not be sure just how well you can decorate a random product, but you are also making yourself liable for a garment you have not paid for and might have to replace.  Instead, try to manage customer service through email or through CRM software. This way, you can save your correspondence to avoid any he said/she said disputes that sometimes arise.  

Online CRM

Gmail / Google Drive is a great free service, and Zoho and SalesForce are good paid options.  Slack is a newer service that is excellent for CRM with clients. Live chats are another method of customer interaction that are increasing in popularity, and there are many free options available for live chat, like talk.io. When communicating through email and chats it is wise to have prepared answers for frequently asked questions to save yourself time. If you do need a phone number, then you can get one through Google Voice and answer phone calls through either your cellphone or computer through Google Hangouts.

Conclusion

Maintaining a healthy and interactive relationship with customers is critical to a product decoration business’s success and viability.  The face of the business to its customers are its sales, marketing, and customer service departments. Excellent CRM will allow a product decoration business to maintain existing customers while enticing new customers to purchase their products.  CRM utilizes automation where applicable to maximize the efficiency of all customer interactions, ultimately leading to purchases. Just like with any other aspect of a decoration business, it is important to understand each step of the CRM process and recognize what works well for you, and where it can be improved.


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