CRM systems, or customer relationship management systems, are designed to do exactly what the name implies: manage customer relationships. Keeping track of customer contact information and interactions to support and grow your business is an age-old practice. Handwritten notes in notebooks and customer logs are examples of how companies first started tracking customer history. Over time companies have grown at a much faster pace, making manual record keeping highly inefficient and unproductive. CRM systems of today do much more than track the customer lifecycle; ultimately providing businesses with valuable insight into customer needs and preferences that significantly impact sales and revenue.
Online industry publication, SearchCRM outlines some of the key benefits of CRM systems. The benefits include helping the marketing and sales departments as well as managers optimize customer information and share it cross departmentally. Specific benefits include:
- Allow marketing departments to hone in on their best customers. Efficiently manage marketing campaigns which lead to qualified sales leads.
- Optimize company-wide shared data to improve existing processes for telesales, account, and sales management.
- Improve customer satisfaction by providing more personalized service through knowledge of the customer history.
- Empower sales, marketing and support teams to enhance their engagement with customers through relevant data and a formalized process.
Whether a customer interacts with sales, marketing, support and/or technical departments, having specific knowledge of these communications allows an enterprise to identify opportunities to provide better service. The sum of these interactions also helps businesses to tailor their offerings as opposed to making generic offers. In a competitive market place, businesses need to be attuned to what their customers want or risk losing them to competition.
Beyond customer service, CRM systems enable businesses to automate back end work to help improve efficiencies. For example, forecasting, contract renewals and upselling products and services are easier for sales professionals that use a CRM. Managers can also track specific activities, making team oversight a less arduous task.
There are a number of CRM systems available for companies to consider. Thorough research should be completed before determining which product you implement due to varying capabilities. Depending on whether you want to change or implement new business processes, or if you are a large enterprise or small business, you should be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each solution. CRM software vendors have developed CRM systems that can be tailored for the needs of small businesses as well as large enterprises. Some of the well-known vendors in the CRM space include, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage and SugarCRM.
Companies should also be mindful as to how they want to implement the solution. The system can be implemented in a number of ways including on-premise, where the software sits behind a company’s firewall or web-based where the software is hosted by a CRM vendor and accessed on-demand by the user.