CRM Systems: A 10-Point Guide

CRM, or Customer Service Management System, is a necessary part of any business that needs to better understand its customers. Good CRM systems are designed to track interactions with customers so businesses in an organized space. Without an official CRM system, businesses often keep no record of interactions with customers or if they do, those interactions are no organized in one location. This creates problems with follow-up activities, leads and prospects, and staff turnover.

There are several different types and features can be included in a CRM. How do you know which is the best one to use? Take a look at our 10-point guide before you invest in a CRM that doesn’t work for your needs.

1. Types of CRM Systems

There are three different types of CRM systems that meet the needs of businesses of all sizes. A single entrepreneur can get by with a basic desktop version on one computer. Small businesses with more several employees often rely on a self-hosted CRM on a server. Larger businesses tend to use CRM systems that are hosted on the cloud and can be accessed anywhere via WiFi because a third party provides it.

2. What does a CRM do?

The question should be what doesn’t a CRM do. The real goal of a CRM system is to manage customer contacts – everything from basic details like phone numbers and email addresses to details about conversations. With this information, users can track activities and goals to build sales. The CRM also helps employees take a customer from the lead stage to the conversion stage – even if more than one employee is involved.

3. Do CRM systems integrate with other applications and systems?

Yes. They can be synced with email programs and calendar applications.  Some CRM systems actually have messaging functions built right in, so they do not need to be synced. Larger companies benefit from complex CRM systems that allow employees to interact within them.

4. Can CRM systems customize data for individual employees?

Yes. All three types of CRM systems have dashboards that can be customized based on an employee’s workplace needs. These dashboards are designed to be intuitive for easy use.

5. Can CRM systems work with social media?

The newest CRM systems do work with social media platforms. Since most businesses use social media to gather and work with leads, the newest CRM applications actually integrate social media data into the traditional streams of data. CRM systems are designed to make work life easier for sales staffs. By integrating social media data, sales forces benefit by learning about their customers’ reactions to their brands and products and make better decisions on new products and services. It would be a mistake to not connect your CRM to your business’s social media feeds as it gives businesses the tools they need to quickly respond to customers to maintain their loyalty.

6. Can CRM systems be used for marketing?

If you select a CRM with social media features, you can actually use the CRM data to build a better marketing campaign. Social media is generally a one-way street for businesses that post videos on YouTube, send messages on Twitter and Facebook, and create photos for Instagram. Without a CRM, businesses have no idea what, if any, social media posts engage customers, gather leads, and convert them into sales. But with CRM, marketing departments can learn from every piece of social media content and make changes as needed. Traffic goes two ways with a CRM used in conjunction with social media.

7. Are CRM systems scalable?

They certainly can be scaled for businesses of all sizes, especially those that are cloud-based. Third-party providers often charge businesses for what they use and they can customize a CRM to meet the needs of the business. CRM systems that are server based can usually be scaled to business sizes, too.

8. What are the benefits of a CRM?

There are numerous benefits to added a CRM to your business, no matter what the size. The ultimate goal of using a CRM is to increase sales, thus increasing revenue. Along with that goal, a well-designed CRM will help businesses improve their customer relationships. It also improved communication with customers and with fellow employees, as the CRM gives businesses standardized, customized communication tools that create consistency. The CRM also creates opportunities for employees to work as a team to grow sales by working from the same collection of data.

9. What features do I need in a CRM?

This will depend on the type and size of business you have. CRM systems are useful for businesses of all sizes, from the smallest startup to the biggest corporations. Along with analyzing customer and marketing data, they can be used to manage leads and pipelines. These features allow employees to get an organized, visually attractive view of leads and sales without having to scour through unwieldy spreadsheets.

There are even more advanced communication features on many CRM systems. Some have built-in phones so you can contact leads right from the screen while logging the conversation. Most have voicemail options, too. Many also have email features that allow users to create email templates and content while also collecting data metrics like open rate and more.

The better CRM systems also allow users to create customized reports and to create automatic tasks. So, you can look closely at your performance or your employees’ performances in any given time frame. You can also set up your CRM to automatically change the status of leads based on phone calls, social media responses, or other activities. The better CRM systems will also allow users to set reminders, too.

10. How do I choose the best CRM for my business?

There are several factors to consider before committing to a CRM system. For many business owners, the price is the first consideration. Decision makers should consider both the upfront cost and the maintenance costs, too. The second consideration should be the features that fit your needs. The final factor to consider is the required technology, especially if a CRM requires the use of an exorbitant amount of cloud space or the use of a new server that you do not have.

Authored by: Kristen Bentley, Reporter, Smallbiztechnology.com

 

The following two tabs change content below.
SmallBizTechnology.com Editorial team. Striving to publish news, insights, and interviews focused on technology and more for growing businesses! See our sister site Smart Hustle Magazine