Contact relationship management (CRM) systems have been around in some form for eons. In the pre-digital world, a business owner may have greeted his or her customers personally, and then made notes about the interaction, including their product preferences, contact information and personal data such as marital status and even kids’ names.
Today, it’s all about capturing data, much of it coming through on email, the internet or even social media. When used effectively, CRM can improve relationships with existing customers, help find new ones and lure back former purchasers. Systems come with software that collects, organizes and manages the customer information. Sophisticated packages even provide templates, schedules and reminders to keep in touch with clients, and help you plan communication campaigns such as an email blast.
Here are six reasons to adopt a CRM system:
1. Storing and sharing large amounts of data
When you are ready to move on from sticky notes and lists cluttering your desktop, a CRM system can collect, analyze and store a massive amount of information digitally, and share it across multiple departments.
2. Transfer of knowledge
A company might have a great salesperson, but what happens when that person leaves? With CRM, a high level of service is maintained because extensive customer information—such as unique preferences, issues and sales data—is available to whoever might need it.
3. Improved problem resolution
With a full history of issues and resolutions, representatives can respond to customer needs without starting from the beginning at each interaction, saving customer and company time.
4. Automate processes
Tasks such as filling out forms become much more efficient. Stored data automatically is filled in, saving time and increasing accuracy.
5. Share with distributed teams
Not only can you see emails, contacts and other communication details, you can instantly share data with other departments or distributed teams. Sales staff can call up data from the field, while marketing and customer service staff share information to drive customers through the sales funnel.
6. Improved analytical data and reporting
CRM systems store information in a database, allowing you to call up information for analysis or for generating accurate reports. Better report data means more informed decision-making, increased customer loyalty and long-term profitability.
Selecting a product
There are many choices of CRM software. In the simplest (and cheapest) form, a CRM could be a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with columns for the contact name, address and purchase history and other pertinent details. But there are several quality, fully integrated products for a reasonable monthly fee. For example, the highly rated Zoho software is $35 per month for a robust enterprise version, but there is also an entry level version for just $12 per month, or you can get your feet wet with a basic free version. This article in PC Magazine has a chart of features of top rated software that you can match to your needs.
A CRM system is not a magic box that will automatically build your business. I have a client who frequently asks me to review new CRM solutions, even though he has one provided by his company that he doesn’t use. A new product won’t change this behavior. An investment of time is required to get the full advantages. You must be willing to connect how you acquire customer information to the chosen system, which sometimes requires entering contact data, and then use the tools the system provides.
Every business relies on customers. Quick access to comprehensive contact data will enhance positive customer interactions with your company, which ultimately translates to increased profitability.