No matter where you are in the business world—just starting, just catching your stride or a long-time veteran—you won’t get any further without loyal customers who trust you.

To build up that foundation and to improve on it you need feedback from your customers, old and new. You need a viable Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy—or a service that provides it for you.

CRM, as you most likely know, is a term that refers to practices, strategies and—more increasingly—technologies that businesses use to manage and analyze customer interactions. The goal is to use that data to improve business relationships with customers, increase customer retention and drive sales growth. Here are a few ways you can improve your own CRM.

Foster word of mouth advertising
Sure, more and more people are shopping online these days or, at the very least, looking for places to shop with their mobile devices or on their computers. In that way, we’re more connected than ever but don’t overlook the strength of word of mouth advertising. In the online world, this means online reviews and recommendations, whether it’s a review on Amazon or Yelp, something you solicit and put on your own web site and social media channels.

Customer complaints
We’ve talked about this often in the past: customer complaints, handled correctly, will actually improve your relationships with existing customers and build up the trust levels to help you attract news ones. In fact, responding to negative feedback in a positive, quick and personal—as in, honest—way can turn an annoyed customer into loyal fans or pitch man.

Be honest and personal
The best way your small business can set itself apart from a big business is by making it easy for consumers to get in touch with a real person. Share your expertise or handle their complaint like you would one of your neighbors. That means less wait time for a response, an honest, apologetic response to complaints about your business and a empathetic touch.

Keep Track of Your Customers
It’s important to keep track of your ongoing customer relationships, no matter how frequent or infrequently your customers visit your shop or use your services. Following up on recent experiences with your business, by sending a thank you card or request a review, remind them of when their next service will be or even just send them a birthday card.

It sounds like common sense and it’s probably something you do each and every day in your business or repair shop. It can be daunting, however, to do it on a large scale and that’s where CRM services come in. At Pistn, our newly developed CRM system handles all of the above for you—it organizes, automates and synchronizes responses to recent visit to your shops, requests for services and more.

The new system also tracks your customers’ behavior and interaction with your business so you’ll always know how effective your marketing strategy is.

Do you have a CRM service, or do you follow your own script? Let us know in the comments!