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Published August 02nd, 2016 by

Beginner’s Guide to Customer Relationship Management Tools

Beginner's Guide to Customer Relationship Management ToolsBusiness tools are not just popular these days, but it imposes a lot of benefits in businesses as a whole. Business tools have almost crept into every aspect of the business, making it a holistic experience of increased productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

Business tools are important in most management and intelligence aspects in the business, which are broad to address specific needs within the company. Because of the advancements in technology, although each business tool addresses a specific business aspect, altogether can be integrated to create a centralized business system, which maximizes its potential, and the opportunities arising from it as well.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Defined

Customer relationship management, or CRM, is the application of methodologies, strategies and technologies that targets better and increased quality in handling and managing customer acquisition and retention, which both are essential in driving sales growth in a business. CRM systems make use of a centralized system of collecting data across multiple channels for communication and marketing campaigns, which can include, but not limited to, customer profiles, buying preferences, purchase history, inquiries and concerns. The data sources are also diverse that it includes both offline and online customer engagement like marketing materials, verbal and nonverbal communication lines, websites and the social media.

A centralized management system stresses the importance of streamlining workflows, and at the same time, driving the business in a collaborative working environment when needed, in order to maximize its resources and achieve greater success. These resources include both the human aspect; which aims increased productivity and efficiency in performing tasks, and the nonhuman aspect; which deals with technologies and tools that enhances the way processes are executed.

In the case of CRMs, it centralizes the back end processes, which facilitate gathering, sharing and analyzing of customer data for a more dynamic and efficient system that cuts the time in executing the tedious tasks of data analysis and report generation. Increased employee productivity implies that more time can be allocated in focusing on other core tasks at hand. Efficiency is achieved by automating the system.

On the other hand, the front end part of the business is also a place for important touch points in generating leads, acquiring prospect and in nurturing client retention and loyalty. These processes can be effectively done by employing CRM tools, which utilizes the opportunities and insights that arose from the customer data analytics process. Reports generated after the application of data analytics tells of valuable information critical to decision making and performance evaluation.

Benefits of CRM

A CRM software is the collaboration of the practices and precepts of customer relationship management, which turn into software applications that help businesses in cultivating a productive, and mutually beneficial client-business relationship. Customer relationship management tool applications are automated and streamlined, and is capable to be integrated with other business tools which maximizes its functions further. CRM softwares are usually deployed in large scale, or enterprise scale businesses. Fortunately, through the creation of cloud based CRM softwares, it was made scalable and customizable in order to accommodate other business sizes as well.

Automating the processes involved in customer relationship management system is the fundamental feature of the best customer relationship management tools. And it is implemented in the following aspects:

Marketing automation

Marketing automation in CRM softwares is a host of wonderful benefits in making effective marketing strategies that lead to sales, as well as customer loyalty. CRM softwares also optimize the way marketing campaigns are executed, and also introduce opportunities for future innovations through customer data.

Automated lead profiling and qualification is also achieved through CRM softwares. According to MarketingSherpa, 61% of business-to-business marketers (B2B) said that they send all their leads directly to the sales department, but only about 27% of it is considered qualified. In CRM softwares, the turnabout of generating high quality leads is better, through a technique called lead scoring. This allows marketers to “filter” out leads through a certain set of criteria before passing it on to the sales department. Being an automated process, the analysis and turnover time for leads is reduced, making the technique more efficiently implemented.

Optimized revenue tracking translates to better overview of the Return of Investment, or ROI. A closed loop is established between the software and the marketing campaigns, in order to monitor directly the revenue attributes of the campaigns. These revenue characteristics consist of marketing expenditures, overall project revenues, and individual campaign revenues.

According to Aberdeen Group, about 96% of organizations believe that making personalized content in emails is a sure way up to reach optimum email marketing performance. Engaging and targeted content is attained by assessing different aspects of customer behavior that lead to purchases. CRM softwares gather data from various marketing channels in order to analyze the interests and preferences of buyers for a particular product or service. This in turn can help in developing targeted and engaging marketing content and direct marketing interactions such as an email that contains relevant information that personalizes a rather impersonal way of communicating.

Another aspect of marketing automation is its capability to render real time monitoring alerts through dashboards. A CRM dashboard provides a quick view of the status of key performance indicators in the business. Real time monitoring, courtesy of dashboards, enable marketers to take immediate action over problems, at the time they are rising; or even grab an opportunity that has a limited time frame, right away.

Multi channel communications and marketing campaigns enable a dynamic platform for consolidating valuable customer data. It also improves interaction and engagement of customers to businesses, and allows a quicker and more efficient response in various customer inquiries and concerns. Deploying different kinds of marketing campaigns enhances the chances of its success, and allows its reach and relevance expand to more types of customers.

Sales force automation

Sales force automation is that aspect of CRM softwares which allows processes concerning sales tasks and performance evaluation to be automated, for a more efficient reinforcement. CRM softwares can effectively manage sales inventories, processes invoices and purchase orders, track sales concerned customer interactions, and even gauge sales performance and make accurate forecasts.

Customer service automation

Customer service automation in CRM softwares creates a single platform where businesses and customers can make effective communication and collaboration. It allows allows accessibility to, and visibility among, of the products and services offered by the same time, as well as the status of the manner of delivery and execution, so that customers are informed of what they are getting, or on what they are about to get from the business. Customer service automation can also promote consistencies in addressing customer feedbacks, and responding to concerns and inquiries in a more efficient way.

Location based services

Location based services may actually be a part of marketing automation, but since it deals with a more specific type of marketing campaign, it is ok to have it as a separate aspect of CRM softwares.

Location based services implement more discrete marketing campaigns that utilize geographical locations, in order to make a more accurate tracking of leads or prospects.

Choosing the Best CRM Tool

Through technology, CRM softwares can be implemented in two ways: as an on-premise solution system, or as a cloud based solution system. Comparing and contrasting the two requires a list to follow. But for now, let’s begin to define each system implementation first.

On-premise CRM is hosted by the business itself, and the equipment and network needed are inside the company’s facility. This gives full ownership and maintenance of the system to the company, gaining more freedom in customizing it according to preference. It can be accessed through a Local Area Network configuration, and may not need an internet connection to do so.

A cloud based solution system allows flexibility and scalability for the business since it uses a virtual infrastructure called a cloud, which omits the adoption of added hardware installation and configuration. It also eases the burden of maintenance and hosting services to the service provider. A cloud based CRM is also utilized via a remote access, through the internet, that may require authorization rights in terms of usernames and passwords. Fees are based on subscription packages and add-on features.

In terms of upfront costs, on premise CRM solutions are usually more expensive, since it capitalizes on hardware, software, installation, configuration and maintenance. Whereas a cloud based CRM solution only pays a regular subscription fee as long as the company utilizes its system. However, the cost efficiency aspect of both is difficult to realize at the beginning, because of the sensitivity of the system and data is put at risk when deployed in a larger scale environment. For a small business that don’t have the capacity to have additional capital for on premise solutions, may find cloud based CRMs as a better option.

Time to implement is also a critical consideration in choosing a CRM implementation for your business. This is more significant with on premise CRM solutions since it needs time to set up and installation before a company can start using it. On the other hand, cloud based CRMs are faster to implement, since there is no additional hardware installation is required. All it needs is a stable and a high speed internet connection, and it is good to go.

As mentioned, cloud based CRM implementation may have certain compromises in terms of data security than on premise solutions. Although both employ strict levels of security for protection, implementation can be a manner of preference or accessibility.

Ease of customization is more prevalent in an on premise CRM system, in terms of making it custom fit to the specific needs of the company. A cloud based CRM solution system on the other hand, may not have a customizable software, but is configurable and scalable to fit all business types. Though this is not a point of argument, since it is usually the enterprise scaled businesses that have more unique needs to meet, which makes it more inclined in using on premise CRMs.

Choosing the right CRM tool for your business may also require exhaustive research and comparisons. You may check out these reviews of customer relationship management tools to gain first hand insights on what to expect from them.

CRM Risks and Pitfalls

The implementation of technology based tools, or any business tool, entails risks and pitfalls, if not to be evaluated appropriately beforehand. A business has to acknowledge the truth that not all solutions always fit the bill. Smart decision making is one characteristic of a successful business, and it spans to deciding what tools are best to utilize given an immediate situation, or for long term deployment.

Customer relationship management softwares mostly encounter pitfalls when it comes to implementation. It is important that a business, as a collaborative working entity, should altogether agree and feel comfortable having a CRM software on board their traditional environment. CRM implementation may require changes in the existing system, and must be fully known beforehand. The business organization must acknowledge specific problem areas, the support system involved, goals to achieve, and the corresponding strategies to implement, in order to have a more effective CRM solution to adopt.

Hear the voice of the business community, by checking out CrowdReviews.com’s top list of customer relationship management tools.

Trevor Price

Trevor Price helps small businesses leverage mobile technology to reach their audience and extend their capabilities in delivery, information, and tracking.

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