There is an overwhelming array of customer relationship management (CRM) systems on the market. Far more than simple contact storage systems, they can manage customer interaction, automate marketing drives and customer support and a whole host of other functions that serve to improve your business.
Of course, all of this usually comes with a hefty price tag, which many freelancers simply cannot afford, or would prefer to invest in other areas of their business. So how can you best manage your client database without the expense of a CRM system?
The key to a successful database management system is to find the right combination of applications that works for you personally. When it comes to contact management, there are numerous free or low-cost options.
Firstly, email applications usually have a contacts section, which allows detailed information to be entered. Many freelancers find that this is sufficient for their needs.
Another option is to use a spreadsheet program, which can record contact information as well as other details that you may wish to add, such as when you last spoke to the client, what their rate is and any notes on their translation preferences.
Alternatively, some freelancers find that a traditional box of address cards on their desk is perfectly suited to storing their clients’ contact details.
Customer interaction – and specifically marketing activity – is another area in which freelancers should use whatever most suits their particular way of working. For some, this could mean a monthly email to every client, regardless of how recently the last contact has been. This is the simplest approach to reaching out to your contacts, but isn’t very personal.
For that personal touch, some freelancers keep records (either in their contacts spreadsheet or a handy notebook) showing when they last contacted each client. They can then easily view which clients they haven’t spoken to in a while and send them targeted mailings to try and re-engage them.
Another useful tool is a reminders app. There are plenty on the market and many email programs also include this function. Reminders can help freelancers to keep their contacts in order, from an annual database clear out in respect of all clients to notes on when a particular client is returning from her holidays.
What have you found works best for managing your client database? What tips can you share with your fellow freelancers? Let us know via the comments.