Running a business can be a very difficult thing to do. Contrary to popular belief, most businesses that fail did not do solely as a result of their competitors. Rather, failed companies most likely made numerous mistakes, and a lot of the mistakes likely involved customers. Customers have a lot of choices in regards to where they will buy products, so if all are priced somewhat similarly, people will go to the place that treats them well. With that being said, customers do not expect employees to remember every little detail about them, but knowing SOMETHING about them can be a great benefit. One great way to do this is to maintain accurate databases.
Uniform Standards for Entering Information
To start with, it is important for all employees to be on the same page when it comes to entering information in the database. Members of management should stress the importance of all of the customers’ information being entered into the database in a uniform fashion and that shortcuts are not acceptable. It is also important for the employees in charge of creating and maintaining the database to ensure that the database is programmed properly so as not to distort even properly-entered data.
Once the information has been recorded, however, it still needs to be updated on a regular basis, and it should include as much information as possible (you never know when you will need it). For example, each time a customer makes a return visit to the business, the secretary should take the opportunity to use address verification software to make sure that no information is missing while also checking with the customer that this information has not changed. It would also be a good idea for the person operating the database to run a weekly summary so that if a problem is detected later, they can see what happened and more easily correct it.
Get Everyone Involved
Sales people, customer service reps, managers, and company owners will all benefit from this effort, so they should not push all of the work off on the secretary. It might be a little more work for the rest of the staff to assist with the process, but it will give them the peace of mind that everything is entered correctly and give them valuable experience with using the database properly. This will make future meetings with clients much easier because the sales person will look like they remembered everything about the client.
You can even add non-standard information in the notes section such as their son playing football. You cannot even imagine how far this personal touch goes. Just make sure that the person who gathered that information’s name is listed such that it sounds more like you value their business and less like you are stalking them. Basically, use your judgement before pulling out the big guns. In addition, the sales staff and executives should analyze the new contacts at least weekly to ensure that they did not forget to add a new contact or that a mistake has not been made. It is a lot easier to correct database issues the week they are entered than to do so several months or a year later.
Databases are a crucial tool for all businesses to use, but they need to be used correctly and updated regularly for the company to maintain a professional image. They can allow the sales and management staff to easily reacquaint themselves with old customers and improve efficiency. Direct some resources to improving your company database. You will not be sorry!
Adam Rothstein is a business and technology writer. In his view, address verification software is the most overlooked software in the business world due to its ability to cut down useless customer mailings.