What Is a CRM and How Do I Choose the Best One for Me?

Angeline Rast
3 May 2019

For each and every business out there, customer satisfaction is vital and employing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is not only an option but a necessity. Customer Relationship Management is a multifaceted system that encompasses practices, strategies, and technologies that a company employs to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle. This normally helps in strengthening the brand loyalty between its clients.

Customers interact with businesses on a variety of platforms including the company’s website, telephone, email, live chats, direct mail, marketing materials and social media platforms. This interaction may also include data such as a customer’s personal information, purchase record, buying inclinations and concerns, etc.

In most cases, companies can easily find themselves overwhelmed by the heavy weight of customer data at their disposal. A customer relationship management system; therefore, merges these customer information and documents into one functional, accessible and manageable database. This ensures that your business can easily access, manage and work on the data.

In choosing the best customer relationship management system, a robust, efficient, timely, and easy-to-use system that achieves high levels of customer satisfaction is highly recommended.

Findings show the extent to which companies are turning to customer relationship management software for efficiency. In 2015, the CRM software market revenue was $27.5B, in 2016 it increased to $31.7B with a 15.3% annual growth. In 2017, revenues even increased to $36.5 billion with an outlook to reach $80B by the year 2025. The CRM growth is not slowing down.

The benefits of a customer relationship management system cannot be understated. Here is a look at some of the benefits of a CRM system.

Conversion of Leads

A CRM system can be utilized in various ways and at various stages of the customer lifecycle. A centralized customer database facilitates smooth handling of customers in different time zones and geographical locations.

This is all in keeping with previous customer interactions and facilitating prompt service with data being available 24 hours a day for the front and back ends of the company operations. Since a study by MarketingSherpa found out that 79% of all marketing leads are never converted into sales, this can aid in enhancing the sales conversions, highlighting the benefits of this strategy.

Smart Data Management

The database is centralized, integrated, and can be accessed by authorized staff for the continuation of the customer lifecycle. This enhances business intelligence since the business will always have a 360-degree view of its customers and can, therefore, improve its products/services accordingly.

Business Solutions

Despite being customer-centric, a CRM system provides solutions for businesses by opening up reporting and analysis channels that facilitate the company strategies and decision-making processes. It, in turn, enhances employee relationships through delegation of tasks and monitoring of sales.

There are various customer relationship management systems that can be adopted by companies and these include:

1. Operational CRM

This customer relationship management system focuses on a company’s business process that offers customer support. It helps in digital marketing, selling and service enhancement. To facilitate digital marketing, automated applications are used, among them are;

  • Marketing Automation

Marketing campaigns use customer information in developing, integrating and implementing customer-oriented communication strategies at all levels from individuals to multi-levels. Besides, the system also automates customer engagement and therefore enhances customer interaction at different points in the lifecycle, for example, the system automatically sends marketing materials to leads/prospects with the aim of turning them into paying customers.

  • Sales Force Automation

Since CRM systems compile and maintain customer data, this data can be used by sales and marketing teams when seeking for more prospects and also enhance the existing customer relations and service.

  • Service Automation

This system manages customers and their interactions with the company, allowing access to customer data to address customer needs effectively.

2. Analytical CRM

An analytical CRM is useful for analysis and operation functions that facilitate decision-making. This system analyzes customer information for trends and follow- up action by the company.

3. Strategic CRM

Customer education is a vital part of selling, seeking to focus and improve customer knowledge for effective interaction between the customer and the company. Developing a customer relations management strategy includes;

  • Brand Improvement

Customer experience is felt all the way from finance, marketing, distribution, and sales.  Feedback from supportive customers can inform new strategies.

To achieve business or company goals, for instance, strategies informed by questionnaires and surveys can prove beneficial. Mid-level and senior level managers use this information to improve its brand and satisfy customer expectations which is what customer relationship management is all about.

  • Building a Valuable Project Team

With the available data, you will be able to create a valuable project team that knows what the customer needs especially when developing a new product. Project team members are skilled professionals, significant in decision-making within a company after strategies have been formulated.

Bottom Line

The customer is king and is always right. Establishing a relationship that wins their loyalty is always bound to drive up sales while enhancing their experience.

The best customer relationship management system is informed by the type of company and what is aimed to be achieved, by acquiring the CRM. Some renowned vendors of CRM systems for large corporations are, Microsoft, SAP and Oracle though there are other providers utilized by smaller companies. Besides CRMs are nowadays available in two main categories, that is,

  • The cloud-based CRM/SaaS
  • And the on-demand CRM, whereby data is stored on an external, remote network that employees can access from anywhere  

It is upon you to choose the CRM that suits your company profile, especially in terms of data security and the overall costs.

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