Picture this: You and your small team have worked for months to cultivate a robust client list. Things are looking good, but then one of your employees finds a job opportunity elsewhere.
When you go through your former employee’s files, you realize their system of managing contact information and important customer data is completely different than what you were doing, and you lose important clients due to the lack of information.
It’s not your employee’s fault, either. If your business is using manual methods, it’s only a matter of time before you lose important client data and contact information.
In a world where dozens of free or open-source customer relationship management (CRM) software exists, switching away from manual methods to CRM software has never been easier. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out our list of five free and open-source CRM options.
1. CRM software ensures you don’t lose valuable customer data
The odds of losing customer data goes up whenever important client information isn’t stored in an easily searchable database. Storing customer data on paper or in spreadsheets only works for so long before you’ll lose something important.
How many times have you had to search for a post-it note or business card somewhere in a drawer or on your desk? Losing even one client due to not having easy access to important customer information is enough to justify making the switch to a CRM system.
Zendesk Sell’s client notes page
A CRM gives you and your employees instant access to every single customer and any relevant information associated with them with a simple search. If an employee leaves, you’ll have easy access to their notes, so you won’t face the disaster scenario mentioned above. Instead, you’ll be able to type in the customer’s name and pull up all the personalized information your former employee documented.
2. CRM software helps your business scale with rich data analytic tools
CRM software gives you greater access to customer data and analytics which will help your business scale more effectively. Spreadsheets are cumbersome when you have so many data points, and you’re going to miss things using only manual methods. Instead of making decisions based on your gut or anecdotal information, you’ll be able to base your decisions on what strategies are working for your sales team.
A CRM might even provide you with data points you had never considered before such as tracking the number of visitors to your website. Unlocking your company’s full potential can only come when you consider things from every angle, and a CRM system can help enable that.
FreeAgent CRM’s analytics page
You’ll have greater access to information about your team’s sales performance, revenue by territory, predictive lead scoring, ticket management, help desk information, and many more. And the best part is that most software will provide this complex information in a visual, comprehensible way.
3. CRM software helps you stand out from the crowd by personalizing customer experience
With the abundance of available options, you need to stand out from the crowd in order to entice customers to your business and retain those customers once you have them on board. CRM software also gives you a competitive advantage over your competitors who are still using manual methods.
That’s where having CRM software comes into play. As you scale your business up, maintaining a high level of personalization in your customer experience gets harder and harder. You’ll need to develop strategies so that your team can communicate with clients as if they’ve had them on their minds for hours instead of the minutes they had to prepare for the conversation.
SugarCRM’s case management dashboard
Many CRMs come with ticketing software or help desk integration that can supercharge your team’s ability to handle incoming requests in a timely manner. In this day and age, if a solution isn’t nearly immediately available, frustration sets in and the potential to lose a client skyrockets.
When should you switch from manual methods to CRM software?
Ideally, you should switch away from manual methods whenever you have more than five employees who deal with customer data or if you plan to have a client book of more than 50 customers. Even then, you should have some sort of standardized methods in place.
If you don’t plan on having more than 10 employees dedicated to the customer experience, are a brand new business without many contacts, and/or can’t afford the time it takes to move into a dedicated CRM system right now, then using a system such as Google Sheets to create your first makeshift CRM solution is a great place to start.
Don’t fall behind your competitors by holding onto manual methods
We talk to hundreds of business owners each day here at Software Advice, and one thing has become more and more clear each year: businesses are switching away from manual methods.
That means that your competitors are already taking advantage of software in order to enable their business to grow more effectively.
As always, if you’d rather talk to one of our advisors, you can make an appointment with one of them for a 15-minute consultation to see which systems would work best for your company.