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Customer Relationships, Call Center and Small Business

by Sergey Krutsenko

Business is about creating and maintaining customer relationships. But what is a relationship? It means communication. If you ask people in a work setting, "What would improve work, profits and customer service the most where you work?" the answer is almost always "Better communication!" Communication plays a vital part in success or failure of any business.

But what communication tool is used most frequently in the world? Internet, e-mail, TV, radio? Definitely not! I think the most essential communication tool is a phone and hardly any business works without a phone. And whenever you are in contact with people by a phone regarding your business, it is also a representation of your business.

Sounds good, huh? But the important question occurs, What is the most effective way to improve communication via a phone? The computer-based answer (I am a programmer, not a psychologist) is personalization of your customer with call center.

Learn Something New about Your Customer Constantly.
A successful marketing campaign starts with a keen understanding of your customers. When you are curious (not snoopy!) about the people who call you, you are giving them respect. People love to be respected! Find out how their family is doing, or more about their favor hobby. If you know your customers more personally than employees of your competitor know their customers, it's easier to delight them.

Build a Customer Database.
A centralized database is essential to delivering a unified view of customers and contacts. That is goal number one. Create a personal data warehouse about your customers on your PC. Keep track of your contacts made with customers via a phone. If you know when your customers called and what information they searched for or how many times theyve called about a particular product, that lets you track customer behavior. If you know this, you can respond to your customers effectively and efficiently.

Transmute Your Computer and Phone into Call Center.
Have you ever heard about call center? I suppose you automatically think that it is something extra expensive and complicated. And it is just for the big boys like Sony, SAP, Dell and other Fortune 100 companies. But what is a call center (I prefer the term contact center)? As a rule this service includes contact management tools, telephony integration and tools personalizing every customer interaction. Great! You have the same: a phone, a customer database and contact manager software (see below). What hinders you to make your own small contact center right now, which is increasingly at the heart of your companys day-to-day interface with its customers. By recording and analyzing the calls and other interactions between your contact center and its customers you can listen to and act on customer feedback to improve you skills and business processes, leading to improved customer service and hence customer loyalty.

Discovering Value Hidden in Your Data.
Effective customer experience management solutions must capture, store and replay all live interactions between the customer and your contact center. Capturing this live information and embedding it within your customer database gives you the opportunity to share the information collected in the contact center with other parts of your business. If you fail to do this you are missing out on a big opportunity to make every profitable customer feel that you care about them personally and help establish a new business relationship with them.

Finding the Right Software.
The ability of a company to implement various contact solutions can depend on the size of the company. The larger the company, the greater its ability to find feature-rich software.
But what other difficulties are in selection of the right software for your small business call center? The biggest one is chaos.
Obtaining a complete understanding of a company's customer requires the ability to store and manage a myriad of different information from a variety of sources. In addition your demands to kept data level can be varied from day to day. Yesterday you were satisfied if your customer database stored their names, phone numbers, addresses, birthdays. Todays demand is to keep customers emails, webs, credit cards. Tomorrow you maybe wish to store in the database data about customers cars, their favorite colors or birthday of their grandmothers. But as a rule similar contact management software have only strictly fixed (structured) numbers of fields in their databases. If your selected computer application is too small and simple it will not be enough for you. Or these data fields will not be used completely if an application is too big and complicated (and expensive!).

iReferent Aim to End Result.
iReferent is a contact solution for small business and home users that decide the foregoing problems. It provides a strong feature set that stands up well against other similar programs on the market. However, iReferents real achievement is its unique database structure: at any time you can input into the database any (!) number of the description fields, from name of your customers to their car marks. But for all that you might fill only those specific fields in every record, which are really necessary. Also this contact manager gives you the opportunity to keep the detail phone call history.

iReferent Don't Stop to Succeed.
New module of plug-ins (added in version 3.00) allows you to attach to the software additional functions designed specially for your needs.
Data Wizard is one of available plug-ins that is included to distributive package. You can generate a quick report to print data from your data warehouse. Also you can save this report as special format file and then send it any person by email, copy it to a floppy disk and print this report later.
One more important function of Data Wizard is possibility to export and save all or selected data as a csv-format file (a text file where data fields are separated with semicolons). Exported data is transformed to table fixed structure that is more usually for users. Then you can import data from this csv-file into any database or office software application, i.e. MS SQL Server or MS Excel and etc.

Want to try it? You can download your personal CALL CENTER (file size is 1,534 Mb, 30 days free trial) and estimate it yourself.