What is a Customer Relationship Management Process?
A Customer Relationship Management (or CRM) is a strategy that helps manage customer information to improve the business’ effeciency. This might include customer interaction, purchase history, and satisfaction. An example of a CRM strategy is the customer loyalty card program at a grocery store. The loyalty card program tracks a customer’s purchase habits and tailor marketing to fit their needs. The advantages to having an effective CRM is three-fold:
- Operations- A successful CRM automates processes and leads to cost reduction and improved customer interaction.
- Collaboration- A CRM solution centralizes customer interaction for improved customer service.
- Analytics- A CRM solution organizes customer data for analysis and improved targeted marketing, customer retention, and decision making
Finding a Customer Relationship Management System
Most used CRM solutions are web applications. A web application is an application that the user accesses through a portal online rather than installing software onto a single computer. This advanteous for most companies since a web application can be supported and updated at a single source for thousands of users.
When reviewing CRM web applications, here are a few important factors to consider:
- Customization- Finding a CRM vender who offers custom web application development to create a tailor-made solution that meets a company’s specific needs has a lot of advantages. However, too much customization can make application support and data conversion between platforms cumbersome.
- Compatibility- Some CRM vendors already provide other web services to a company and therefor make integration of a CRM application seamless. For example, SharePoint is a web application platform supported by Microsoft. As the SharePoint CRM application has a common technical infrastructure with other business management software offered by SharePoint, adoption of the SharePoint CRM would be uncomplicated for Microsoft based companies.
- Specialization- Some companies who have niche products might benefit from using a less mainstream (and vanilla) CRM solution than SharePoint CRM application. In these cases, it is beneficial to find one that has a background supporting other companies within the industry. For example, a CRM vendor who has experience with medical software development may not be a good fit for a financial institution.
- Usability- A CRM application needs to be used by every part of a business to capture the entire customer experience, from sales and marketing to upper management. The solution must be accessible and easy for every job title to use.
- Support- Finding a CRM vendor who has strong application support is probably one of the most essential factors in a successful CRM system. Many vendors are willing to provide contact information for other companies using their solution to help a potential customer gauge their application support strength.
Implenting a CRM strategy can reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction. Finding a CRM application that offers customization, compatibility with other applications, specilizes in the industry, ease-of-use, and good support will make a CRM successful.
Does your business have a successful Customer Relationship Management strategy? What did you consider when choosing a CRM system? Please leave a comment and let us know!