CRM Quick Summary
Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps automate and manage the customer life cycle of an organization. It is usually used by the customer-focused side of businesses to maintain contact with those customers and quickly respond to their needs.
Benefits of CRM Software
CRM software provides your business with several tangible benefits, including:
Customer data management. Most products provide a searchable database to store customer information (such as contact information) and relevant documents (such as sales proposals and contracts). While most CRMs offer this functionality, it can also be incorporated into other industry-specific systems. For example, customer management is a core component of salon management software.
Interaction tracking. These systems document conversations held by phone, in person, through live chat, email or other channels. These interactions can be logged manually, or automated with phone and email system integrations. Depending on the product, some systems can also track interactions on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms.
Workflow automation. This standardizes business processes, usually through a combination of task lists, calendars, alerts and templates. Once a task is checked off as complete, for example, the system might automatically set a task for the next step in the process.
Reporting software. Management can use CRM tools to track performance and productivity based on activities logged in the CRM system—for instance, how many new contacts were added to the database that day, or how much revenue was generated. These tools can also be used for forecasting, such as for the next-quarter sales pipeline.
Competitive Advantages of Using CRM Software
Whatever business you’re in, chances are you frequently have to deal with customers, prospects or other important contacts. When dealings with those contacts, CRM software gives you advantages over your competitors by helping you:
Scale your business. If you only have 100 contacts to deal with, then you might be able to keep all of their information straight using a simple Excel spreadsheet, or even pen and paper. Larger companies, however, deal with thousands or potentially millions of contacts and customers, which requires CRM software in order to keep that information well-organized and accessible.
Operate more efficiently. When everyone in your company has access to your customer and contact data, you can deal with those customers more efficiently and avoid the dangers of reaching out to contacts either too much or too little. You can also track those interactions and analyze that data for more efficient resource planning.
Compete with superior customer service. Staying in touch with your customers in just the right amount, and using the communication method they prefer, lets you stay on top of their needs and concerns in a way that stands out. Superior customer service, focused on providing the best possible customer experience, will allow you to seriously compete against other businesses.
Size of Businesses Using CRM Software
CRM systems are used by many businesses, across a variety of industries, so there’s no “typical” buyer, as it varies by industry. In general, though, you’ll fall into one of the following categories:
Single User. The smallest businesses consist of only one owner/employer, such as real estate agents, freelancers or independent contractors.
Small Business Buyer. These are companies with 2-100 employees that make under $50 million a year and have no IT department.
Mid-sized Business Buyer. These are also companies that have 2-100 employees and make under $50 million a year, but they do have an IT department.
Enterprise Business Buyer. These are large companies that have more than 100 employees, make more than $50 million a year, and have a dedicated IT department.
Software Related to CRM
CRM can be divided into several related subcategories of software, all of which focus on improving your relationship with your customers:
Sales Force Automation Software: helps companies manage their sales team’s activities, and helps the sales team to close more deals by keeping thorough, accurate records of their interactions with all sales prospects.
Marketing Automation Software: provides tools that helps marketers reach out to potential customers through a variety of channels, especially email, and tailor messages to them.
Customer Experience Software: combines frontline customer service applications, such as live chat and tools for self-service knowledge bases, with tools that connect departments in order to oversee individual customer experiences.
Help Desk Software: stores customer information in a searchable database, tracks interactions and automates the issue resolution process using an issue tracking system, for either external customers (consumers or businesses that have purchased goods or services from your company) or internal customers (employees).
Live Chat Software: allows companies to have real-time conversations with website visitors in order to improve customer service, help increase online sales and encourage repeat business by providing customers with precisely what they want.