Today, more and more small businesses are using automated tools such as CRM to streamline their sales, marketing and other operations. However, while working towards efficiency, most businesses forget about the most important factor for CRM success: the Human Factor (or the H factor).

After all, no one wakes up to be a lead or contact in your database. They are humans, real people, with unique needs and interests.

To drive success from your customer relationship management system, it’s all about building real relationships with people and not forgetting to maintain the feeling of personal service and care that attracted customers to your product or service in the first place. There are a number of ways to utilize CRM while still providing that “human touch” to prospects and customers.

One Size Does Not Fit All

If you’re like most businesses you probably use email newsletters to communicate with your audience and lists. This one to many approach used to be an effective way to follow up and stay in touch with all of your contacts in your CRM. But times are a changin’. No longer do people want a generic, robotic message from your business. In today’s connected business climate personalization is king and your prospects and customers want you to engage with them on a more human level.

With CRM data, you can track your buyers habits and preferences online, segment them, and deliver the exact message at precisely the right time. That means you can send a personal message as soon a customer buys or even to new leads the minute they enter your sales process. Each contact can receive outreach from your business that is specific to where they are in the customer life cycle–demonstrating that they’re more than just a name on a list. When you put down the bullhorn and engage with your prospects and customers on a one-to-one level relationships flourish in your business.

“Personal Service” Over “Customer Support”

A major benefit of your CRM is the ability to deliver a great, consistent experience to your customers. While some companies conflate “personal service” with “customer support,” personal service makes each customer feel as unique as they are: it means customer service that treats every client as if they are the only customer.

When it comes to using customer relationship management, getting personal means collecting relevant data from every customer interaction, then using to engage with your customers based on their needs and preferences. For example, when your customer service representative can use real time customer information from your CRM such as emails opened, website pages visited, and past recorded conversations, it makes it easier to deliver that human moment-making your customer feel like your company truly cares about them as an individual.

The Paradox of Self-Service

One way to connect with your customer base in a more personal way is to offer self-service support options. I know what you’re thinking, isn’t self-service the polar opposite of personal service?

In truth, many customers – especially Millennials – like to take care of things themselves, especially via smartphones. You can thread this particular needle by using your CRM to observe customer behavior to find out what kinds of services they want and how they prefer to access them.

Another great way to make your self-service offering more human is to use tools such as live chat in conjunction with your CRM. Live chat gives you the chance to communicate with prospects and customers whether on your website or within your product offering. You’re able to capture feedback one on one and give your buyers a vehicle to quickly solve their own problems.

The Importance of Education

Understandably, much of the focus of using small business CRM is to create a personal relationship with your prospects and customers. One vital component that must be included in getting personal is the importance of educating your customers.

A good customer relationship is a lot like the relationship a teacher has with her students. The best teachers focus on providing EACH student with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed far beyond the classroom. What does this mean in practical terms?

Use CRM to determine what future and existing customers are struggling with. Optimize your services and website to provide solutions to those problems. For every product or service you offer people, be sure to offer supplemental materials to help them use it.

CRM can also help to market blogs, webinars, and other venues where you provide relevant and engaging information. This creates the most human experience of all because people perceive that you care more about them than the sale itself – that you care about helping your prospects and customers find greater success than they ever could on their own.

By putting the H-Factor back into your CRM, it gives your customers the personal touch they crave while allowing them the freedom to figure it out solo if they’d prefer. With a customer-centric approach, you can ensure that your business gets personal with every prospect and customer while still operating like a well-oiled machine.