CRM Tools – An independent view
If you work in sales the chances are you will be using or will come across CRM Systems, where you can turn interactions with customers into potential sales with customer relationship management software. CRM software, however, can be fairly complicated to implement, and some businesses don’t need it.
If you’ve ever wondered why it takes so long to fix a problem with over the phone regarding services or products, you’ve experienced poor customer service firsthand. Usually this is because one department doesn’t have key information that another department already has.
So how can you avoid this type of problem and improve customer service in your business? And how can you turn interactions with customers into potential sales? One option is customer relationship management (CRM) software. CRM software, however, can be fairly complicated to implement… Here’s how to decide whether CRM software is right for your business.
What does it do?
A CRM system helps you manage customer relationships, close sales, improve your customer support, and consolidate important information that employees need to do their jobs, all in one place. It does this by recording transactions for each customer and sending alerts to employees for different tasks, such as when to call back the customer or when a contract will expire. You can also use it to filter data according to customer preferences (such as customers who like to buy hats and gloves). This can help you develop sales promotions.
Use it to improve your service
You can filter data with a CRM system to show you patterns from service calls and figure out, say, that a certain product has been responsible for a lot of your company’s time. You might also find data that help you streamline your operation. Let’s say you’re a small electronics store, and you discover that a large number of customers don’t know where the on switch is in a popular device. You can include instructions to be included in the packaging and make that the first question your support people ask when called.
Look at your business needs, not your business size
CRM makes the most sense when you have a high volume of repeat customers, especially if they’re handled by a relatively small staff. An artist who repeatedly sells reproductions of his works to a client list of 10,000, a 12-person travel agency with 500,000 customers, and a small to midsize insurance or manufacturing business are all examples of companies that could benefit from CRM.
On the other hand, if you mainly look for new clients and keep in touch with just a small number of current customers, you can get by with simple contact management software. One key question to ask is whether your company tracks customers for support issues as well as sales leads. If so, CRM software can probably help.
Go with an entry-level CRM application (or even a point-of-sale system) if your needs are modest
Full-scale CRM is not a solution for every business. There is no sense in spending money on extra software and maintenance if you don’t track customer support issues and don’t need to integrate the system with an elaborate, pre-existing computer network.
Consider hosted CRM if you don’t have the IT resources available
Implementing full-scale CRM requires additional computers, software, and (most likely) at least a few IT employees to maintain the system. If that’s too much firepower for your business, try a hosted CRM system instead.
A hosted (or on-demand) CRM solution such as Salesforce.com (prices start at ?15/user/month) or SageCRM.com (?35/user/month) lets the CRM vendor (instead of your company) store all of the data on its servers. Your employees can then use the different modules, such as managing contracts, marketing automation, and document management, from a Web-based interface without IT having to maintain the system. If you go this route, look for a smooth migration policy to an in-house product as your needs grow.
|Some of the most popular CRM Tools currently available|