Businesses in any field need to focus on a technology that helps them manage relationships and interactions with customers. In order to do this, they need to learn what a Customer Relationship Management Software is and how to use it in managing customer relationships.
In this article, we will dive in to understand CRM as both a process and a software or tool.
Customer Relationship Management Defined
A Customer Relationship Management or CRM refers to the principles, practices, and guidelines that a business or organization follows when interacting with customers. A good CRM allows businesses of all sizes to drive growth and profits.
CRM is also being referred to as the technology that manages a company’s relationship and interactions with its customers. A CRM software improves efficiency by helping you manage customer relationships..
Benefits of CRM
CRM is mainly designed for sales, marketing, and customer service. But now, it has evolved into an efficient system that tackles not just customer experience, but also assists users manage relationships between the team members, partners, and collaborators.
Applying CRM to your business can bring in tons of benefits, specifically:
1. Manage customer data
Prior to CRM software, businesses used to save customers’ contact information documented manually mostly by writing on logbooks. Gradually, technology improved and companies began to enter customer data into a spreadsheet (i.e. Excel software). Consequently, the first CRM software was used in 1990 and has become popular over spreadsheets for helping businesses manage customer data more effectively.
Now, analytical CRM tools make your data readily available, intelligible, and relevant to the needs of your business. Sales data, finance data, and marketing data could flow into CRM to become visible metrics and information you could practically use in strategizing.
2. Implement marketing campaigns
Marketing teams utilize the data in CRM to run marketing campaigns by identifying customer demographics and fragmenting potential and familiar customers. CRM could help you in prioritizing targeted groups through evaluation between buyers and potential customers.
This efficient tool allows marketers to deliver personalized content based on customers’ personal data, improving the conversion rate of marketing campaigns, and replicating high-performing marketing campaigns.
3. Optimize sales
Customer Relationship Management Software is fast-growing in popularity to optimize sales performance. Gathering data from customer interactions, improving customer experience and support, and streamlining and improving sales processes will lead to improved and optimized sales.
With CRM as a tool you can proactively identify customer needs based on gathered information from previous customer interactions, identifying opportunities to regain customers at risk of desering, and have a centralized customer-relation system.
How does Customer Relationship Management Software work?
A CRM software applies the Collect – Store – Analyze – Apply processes.
Stage 1 – Collect
The first step in the Customer Relationship Management process; the system will record information from different sources such as face-to-face consultation with customers, calls, emails, digital marketing, online and social media platforms, and direct marketing email list. The collected data will then be entered and stored in the database of the CRM software.
Stage 2 – Store
Digitized files will be imported directly into the Customer Relationship Management program. In contrast, non-digital files should be converted before importing into the database. Digitized files will make it easy for businesses to upload existing customer data to the CRM tool without spending a lot of time manually entering the information.
Stage 3 – Analyze
Start analyzing and planning your business as soon as the data is stored in the CRM system. You can review your key performance indicators (KPIs) in the areas of marketing, sales, and customer care which you can easily monitor vis-a-vis your business goals.
To visualize these metrics, CRM automatically generates specific reports and displays the data in the dashboard. Additionally, many CRM tools let you customize your sales reports to help you analyze the important data to your business.
Stage 4 – Apply
CRM reports and dashboards provide useful and practical information. To put CRM data into practice, you need to share this information to your marketing, sales, and customer care teams. Applying CRM results may involve synchronizing it with another program.
For instance, the software can integrate with an Email Marketing platform allowing you to store and divide your data in CRM. With two-way sync, key metrics like email clicks and opens are automatically added to your CRM.
8 Essential Features to Consider in Choosing a CRM System
Below are features to consider in choosing a CRM software suitable for your business:
1. Ability to store information
This function should be on top of your consideration in choosing a CRM system. It should be able to view all file types in one place, categorize leads accordingly, import and export excel files via Outlook or Gmail, and make a list of contacts based on different criteria.
2. Sales pipeline management
Make sales pipeline management one of the most important features of your CRM. It must have the ability to quickly view sales data, track progress of sales opportunities, project pipeline revenue, perform metrics of sales channels, and salesperson’s KPIs visibility.
3. Analytics and reporting
Considered as among the most important features of the CRM, analytics could offer more sophisticated CRM features. This includes ability to display sales performance statistics for each specific purpose; analyze the effectivity of the sales process by individual and sales team; and integrate with external analytics tools for extended functions
4. Task management and scheduling
If you plan to use a CRM for team collaboration, it is important to consider this feature which gives you the ability to automatically perform tasks and optimize workflow. The CRM provides group management functions that increase the ability of individuals for team collaboration. It allows you to control the employee’s access to information to enhance security.
You can also use CRM to increase productivity by seeking solutions that include automating and integrating sales tracking and marketing planning, and integrating with other platforms such as marketing or accounting software.
5. Integration capabilities
Depending on the needs, CRM tools have the ability to integrate with business softwares, or connect with a variety of other applications through third-party tools (such as Zapier).
Some of the tools usually integrated with CRM include:
- Accounting Software
- Email marketing tools
- Google Suite
- Help desk tool
- Inventory management software
- Marketing platform
- Web forms
Therefore, you need to find out carefully whether your provider uses software based on cloud computing applications or installs traditional software.
User experience is a major factor in the success of a CRM solution. A well-designed interface can simplify your workflow, as poor design can hinder functionality. Most CRM tools allow you to display different dashboards depending on the key information you want to get.
Being mobile-friendly is increasingly being upgraded, because the software is not only used for desktop interfaces but also can be used on mobile device interfaces such as tablets and mobile phones.
Ensure that this user-friendliness applies to you as a user and your customers.
Consider security when choosing a CRM tool because data is one of the lucrative targets for hackers. The confidentiality of the CRM depends on the provider and the type of security tools built into the CRM like a 2-step authentication.
Avoid the risk of data leakage by decentralizing features in CRM. It can help you restrict access to important information to only authorized users.
Consider the price to get the efficiency, productivity, and revenue that CRM can achieve to balance the investment budget. CRM software allows you to start with the basic/free plan.
You can opt for a premium plan if your budget allows you to. You will need to check with the supplier in detail the costs of installation, data conversion, guidance and training, license, free upgrade, and cancellation.
Consult a Marketing Service Provider
In essence, Customer Relationship Management Software is an ideal support tool to help you solve data management problems in the most effective and efficient way. Most importantly, it is not just the business and management team that benefits from CRM systems. Customers are better served, too.
We hope that this article has helped you get the most important view of what a CRM system is, its features, and its importance to a business.