If you are using your client relationship management (CRM) system simply as an address book, you are not harnessing its full power.

A CRM system holds your clients’ contact information and keeps track of your client communications. However, if you truly want to maximize the effectiveness of your CRM system, use it to store information that is unique to each client to help you develop deeper relationships with them.

Add personal details

You can add personal details about your clients, such as the names and birthdays of their immediate family members, your clients’ hobbies, their favourite vacation spots and other interests, says Cara Crosetti, Los Angeles-based senior strategist with Wickware Communications Inc. of Toronto.

This important information can be gathered through the conversations you and your team members have with your clients and through other electronic systems.

For example, if a client mentions that he or she is planning a winter golf vacation in Barbados, make a note of that in your CRM system. That information may be useful for future discussions about retirement goals. The same applies when clients mention life events such as the birth of a grandchild — enter that information into the CRM system for future reference.

However, it is key that all your information on clients held in your CRM system be up to date and accurate.

“It’s a ‘garbage in, garbage out’ philosophy,” Crosetti says. “[The information] that you rely on that system for is only as good as the data in it.”

So, make sure you and your team make a habit of checking and updating that information during regular contact on the phone or in person.

Collect data electronically

You can also use your CRM system to store information about clients’ consumption of your online marketing content. Which clients are opening your e-newsletter? And who is clicking through on links to your blog or your YouTube videos?

This information can now be tracked using applications such as MailChimp, which can produce reports that indicate which clients are opening your emails and what links they clicked on in your newsletter. If one client is clicking through all your articles and videos on estate planning, for example, make a note of that in your CRM system and be sure to bring up that topic during your next meeting with that client.

If you want your CRM to hold this additional information, you may need to add fields, depending on which CRM system you use. Your IT department can help you with this adjustment. If you are using a cloud-based system such as Salesforce, you can add these fields yourself.

“[Cloud CRM tools] are easy to learn, they have really nice simplified interfaces,” Crosetti says, “and a lot of them offer tutorials.”

If you want to make accessing this information even more convenient, consider using a dashboard that integrates your CRM program with email-tracking and web-tracking systems. You will be able to view information from those various avenues on one screen.

By having this information at your fingertips, you will know what your clients are most interested in and what you should be discussing in follow-up conversations.