4 Experts Share Tips to Deepen Customer Relationships Using Technology

Customer relationship management (CRM) has become increasingly important in the wake of COVID-19. Here are some expert tips to maximize results.


Air Date: December 15, 2020

Moderator: Jeanette Mulvey, Editor-in-Chief at CO—, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Featured Guests: Tony Kays, Vice President of SMB Sales, Salesforce, Elizabeth Loge, Chief Executive Officer, CBS Rentals, Zahir Palanpur, Chief Executive Officer, Azul Arc, Renaldo Webb, Founder, PetPlate

Developing positive customer relationships is the cornerstone of any successful business, especially during difficult times. 2020, in particular, has been an unprecedented year in which businesses have had to weather the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Most companies have had to pivot in some way to survive, often utilizing technology in innovative ways to reach their customers and forge a path ahead.

In a conversation with the Chamber of Commerce, four business leaders discuss how small business owners can transform their digital presence to create an efficient, personalized customer experience.

The Pandemic Has Forced Businesses to Innovate on Their Customer Relationship Strategy

As the coronavirus swept through the nation, businesses had to adapt quickly to keep their operations running. To stay competitive and on top of their game, business owners are turning to innovative, technological solutions.

“About 77% of [small businesses] have viewed this crisis as a catalyst for change,” said Tony Kays, vice president of SMB sales at Salesforce. He added that all businesses, from one-person shops trying to stay afloat to 40-person organizations trying to stabilize, are looking ahead at disruptive tech to navigate this new world.

“It's a chance to really revisit your strategy as a company, and really think about the systems you have and how you can really turn those into driving growth, customer retention and employee retention,” Kays said.

This drive to innovate has led many businesses to think about how technology can improve customer relationships and make a good first impression.

“Technology can either be a differentiator or it could be a barrier,” Kays added. “How you really communicate with [customers] when maybe they don't know about you or you don't know about them...that needs to be a really quality experience. The first impression goes a long way in any relationship, especially when it comes to business relationships.”

Personalization Is Key to Customer Satisfaction and Success

Delivering a unique, memorable or personalized experience to customers is not a new concept, but modern customer relationship management (CRM) tools make the process much more scalable for business owners.

“We're a digitally native brand and what that means is [our customers] are able to order their pet food directly online via a subscription,” said Renaldo Webb, founder of PetPlate. “We do a lot of awesome personalization for our customers, so when you go to our website, you just fill out a very simple quiz about your dog, and then we are able to personalize a meal plan to ship them directly to your door.”

In order to maintain a personalized service for their customers, PetPlate adopted a CRM tool to manage all of their customer communications.

“Customers are talking to us via a variety of different platforms, whether it's Instagram sending us a DM on Twitter for emailing us or trying to use chat functions online,” Webb added. “We need ways of consolidating all of this information...and making sure that we're helping them find the right products for their pets or resolving any of their issues.”

With the right tools in place, startups and small businesses can quickly scale their customer base with a small team. Despite only having about 20 people on staff, PetPlate has delivered a level of customer service that was once limited to the largest corporations.

Compiling Customer Data in One Location Is a Game Changer for Businesses

While incorporating CRM tools into your workflow is great from the customer perspective, it also gives businesses an edge over their competitors.

“Our customers need a trusted and reliable partner to provide them a solution to whatever their issues are or whatever their needs are,” said Elizabeth Loge, CEO of CBS Rentals, a construction equipment rental company. “We strive to differentiate ourselves from other suppliers by being first, faster, flexible. [CRM] technology fits right into that mission.”

The ability to communicate mission-critical tasks to key plays almost instantaneously allows businesses to outmaneuver and outperform difficult situations and competitors. CBS Rentals uses CRM software to give key players the ability to monitor high level tasks, such as accounts receivables, service calls, project stages, operational performance and more.

“Just putting the information that we need...into one platform has been a game changer for us,” Loge added.


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