Five years on from the financial crisis, which has so far resulted in two recessions in the UK, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are battling hard every day to deliver quality goods and services while maintaining a healthy profit ratio.
For some, the margins might not be as generous as they would like them to be, but when times are as challenging as they are today, the ability to endure difficulties and come out smiling is a result to savour nonetheless.
According to the technology writer Will Hemner, key to ensuring SMBs 'survive and thrive' is a robust customer relationship management (CRM) system. This is basically the way in which an organisation engages with its customers, both current and future.
It's vital to have some sort of initiative in place, Mr Hemner explains in Bdaily. By virtue of their size, SMBs may originally have regular contact with their customers, but as they develop and grow, this will invariably lessen.
The "danger" here is that customers can begin to feel disengaged, as though they are nothing more than numbers on a spreadsheet. In this kind of scenario, they will invariably look elsewhere.
With CRM, communication is not only maintained, it is utilised in such a way as to keep messages focused and relevant, leading to better profits and happier customers.
It allows you, as a business, "to sell more to your frequent customers, analyse needs and opportunities in your existing client base, and identify opportunities to offer them the things they need most at attractive prices", Mr Hemner wrote for the online news provider.
And it keeps customers loyal. He elaborated: "With effective CRM, you’ll find it easier to schedule sales calls and customer care timetables, putting you right where the customer needs you, when they need you - and ensuring promises made are followed through."
In related news, the Federation of Small Businesses revealed that confidence among SMBs has reached a three-year high, with firms in the financial services sector the most buoyant.