Everyone is talking about Customer Relationship Management

Everyone is talking about Customer Relationship Management

Written By: Rob Sevold

from September 27, 2012

Everyone is talking about Customer Relationship Management (CRM), but what does that mean?  Why would I want a CRM solution for my business and what do I look for?  Often times, these are the types of questions customers are asking us.

CRM can mean many things to different people and organizations.  In simplest terms, CRM means managing the relationships with your customers in several ways:  tracking items such as e-mail communications and marketing activities will give your organization a 360 degree view of your customer or prospect, thus enhancing your relationship with the customer.

So, what’s important to have in a CRM solution?  Certainly, this question depends on your business need and budget.  However, following these eight tips for selecting the right CRM system will set you on the path to success.

EASY TO USE

Select a system that will be easy to use for your employees.  User adoption is the number one factor in determining success of your CRM.  Look for a familiar look and feel to the systems they are already using.

ONLINE OR ON-PREMISE

Do you prefer a subscription based solution or one that you purchase and install on your server?  Cloud  based solutions are becoming increasingly popular with very little capital outlay required up front.  You save  significant dollars due to software pricing, less hardware, and less of an internal administrative burden.  On-premise solutions offer a more flexible environment.  An on-premise solution can increase value by allowing for deeper integrations to legacy systems and more flexibility to customize your CRM application to meet your exact needs.

SOCIAL NETWORKING

Integrate your social networks right in to CRM.  This helps to drive greater success with prospecting and lead generation as well as providing your sales and marketing team greater access to information.

SALES FORCE AUTOMATION

Are you currently managing your sales pipeline on spreadsheets?  Consider better ways to manage prospecting, sales activities, opportunities and pipeline management with CRM.

MOBILE

Pushing customer and prospect information to mobile devices can be invaluable for field staff.  Give them the information they need any time right at their fingertips!

xRM

In addition to your CRM solution being an effective application you should look for a solution that is an effective development platform.  Extending the possibilities of CRM is a sound business strategy.  Some of our most successful implementations have involved building additional functionality into CRM to meet unique business needs that go far beyond a traditional CRM system.

INTEGRATION WITH EXISTING SYSTEMS

Outlook integration is the number one request of all CRM prospects.  Is your integration seamless and real-time?  Is your CRM separate from Outlook or built within Outlook?

Integration with an existing accounting package is also critical.  Be sure to select a CRM solution that integrates easily with other legacy applications.  This saves time and money by putting information in people’s hands without the need for double entry.

SUPPORT

Choosing the right partner for implementing a CRM solution is mission critical.  This one tip alone can save thousands of dollars in helping to design, configure, and implement a CRM solution.  Be sure to ask for references or case studies.  Select a partner that understands your CRM needs and can help design a system to deliver the results you desire.

It has been said that up to 60% of CRM implementations fail.  Following these eight steps alone won’t guarantee success.  User adoption and management buy-in are essential.  If your company is committed to take the CRM leap and you strategically select the right partner, these eight steps will greatly enhance the success of your project.