Today is Get to Know Your Customers Day, and small businesses around the country are thinking about how to provide the kind of personalized service that sets them apart from big-box competitors. 

Every customer is unique—but they all share a desire to do business with companies that take the time to get to know them. There’s often nostalgia for a time when you could walk into a shop, be greeted by name and a simple question: “The usual?” That model still works for the smallest of small businesses. But can it scale? 

If you integrate tools like customer relationship management (CRM) with your communications system, it’s possible to give customers the same feeling without limiting your workforce to two or three employees. Even better, you will be able to provide the same customized service regardless of how you interact with the customer—whether it’s on the phone, by chat, through email or in person. 

When you integrate your communications system with the CRM, everyone in the organization has access to what was once filed away in a single person’s head. Does your customer always order a pound of the Guatemalan, ground for a French press? Is she allergic to nuts? Does he have children? How many? 

Proactive Service, Lasting Loyalty

When your communications system is integrated with your CRM, you can record information your customer provides over the course of several interactions and form a picture of what matters to him or her. Even if each interaction is with a different associate or team member, each one builds on existing information instead of forcing the customer to repeat the same series of questions and answers every time. 

This empowers your team members to proactively make the customer feel welcome, valued and understood, even if it’s the first time this particular team member interacts with this customer. As soon as a call or email comes in, the team member can see the customer’s name, records of past interactions and information the company has learned. 

Let’s say you sell toys. Consider the difference between these two interactions, in which a man calls the store to ask for recommendations. 

Without integrated communications and CRM, the associate has to ask a series of questions: Who are the toys for? How old are the kids or kid? Then the associate might recommend the item the man bought last time he was in. 

But what if you have integrated your communications and CRM? As soon as the call comes in, the associate will see the caller’s name, his purchase history and notes from previous interactions. The associate will know that the customer is shopping for his nephews, who are 5 and 7. They will see what he bought last time. Instead of asking generic questions, the associate can ask, “Did your nephews like the LEGO set you bought in March?” 

The associate can provide better recommendations about what the customer might buy this time. The caller doesn’t waste time or energy explaining the situation or rejecting inappropriate suggestions. 

Most importantly, the message the customer gets from the business is clear: We’ve taken the time to get to know you, your family and your needs. We know that you don’t care if the toy is loud and annoying, because it’s not at your house. We know what you bought last time, so we’re not going to recommend the same toys again. 

This isn’t actually about limiting sales friction. Perhaps our customer isn’t shopping for his nephews—he needs a birthday present for a friend’s child or has just had a baby himself. It doesn’t matter: When you start the conversation by showcasing how well you know your customer, it builds trust and loyalty. 

Create Personalized Experiences

The reason very small shops can provide exceptionally personalized experiences is because there are no information silos. Everything about every customer is stored in the mental databases of a handful of employees. It’s impossible to scale even to a large, busy shop or second location without putting systems in place that make information accessible to anyone in the company, in an instant. 

When communications systems are connected to the company’s CRM, it’s possible for even the largest organizations to prevent information silos and provide the same personalized service customers love. 

No matter what your industry, customers expect to be treated as individuals, not dollar signs. Bringing your communications system and CRM together gives you the tools to make every interaction feel special. 

Want to learn more about how to use communications and CRM to build customer loyalty? Register for our upcoming webinar.