Mark Neild

agileering Ltd

CRM is not just about technology: How to build real relationships with customers

Enterprise Nation Adviser member Mark Neild from Agileering and Grow Inspires takes inspiration for building customer relationships from a recent Enterprise Nation event. 

I attended a really interesting Enterprise Nation meet-up just before Christmas at the Bluebird Tea Co. in Bristol.

It is fascinating listening to business owners talking about the story behind their companies. Hearing their successes is inspiring, while their challenges and how they overcame them gives us renewed strength to tackle our own. There are always plenty of nuggets to learn from.

The thing that struck me as co-founder Mike Turner was telling us the Bluebird story relates to customer relationship management (CRM).

Many people equate CRM with email marketing and list databases, but in reality, good CRM is more about the relationship than spam to stay front of mind.

Mike described how he could tell when his stores would turn profitable when his tea mixology workshops started to fill up.

Like many Enterprise Nation members, Bluebird Tea doesn’t just shift product. There is an infectious passion that lies behind the product.

Once customers catch it, they become passionate too.

Mike's workshops achieve this in an interesting way, by teaching customers to taste and mix different varieties of tea. It is less about selling, although customers can and do buy, but more about education.

Let us face it, many of us buy the same brand of tea from the supermarket without giving it much thought, so to appreciate tea’s finer points needs some education.

But here is the thing. While many of us are quite happy with our standard cuppa, others are intrigued by the sheer variety and uses of different teas and want to know more. So why not tell them? Counter-intuitively, Mike described how his tea club customers were quite happy not to like certain blends they paid for, it all was part of the joy of discovery.

Many Enterprise Nation members sell very unique products, but how many of us have the courage to embrace rejection of any aspect of our passions? How many of us even create a way to educate our customers in a non-salesy way?

Is there a way for you to swipe Mike's idea, adapt it to your products and customers and deploy it in your business?

Best of all, there is no technology needed at all.

At the event, we heard that Tide was sponsoring the StartUp 2018 event on 13 January.

For those unfamiliar with Tide, it is smartphone banking. No branches, no call centre, no paperwork. Your business account can be open in minutes, not the weeks taken by a traditional bank.

I am a founder member of Tide and user test early releases. I love the simplicity and it costs me a tenth of my previous bank charges.

But it is a lot more than just banking. You can create and send an invoice and tag income and expenditure all from the palm of your hand.

Tide uses CRM to shape the product and feature set, we vote for the product roadmap and co-create the user experience.

What better way could there be to ensure that what you do will be a hit with your customers? Again, no real technology required. You could do it quite easily with a closed Facebook group.