The norms and ways of doing business have drastically changed in the last century but the century old adage that the “Customer is always right” is standing strong even in today’s dynamic world of business. In the meantime, the customers’ preferences have changed by leaps and bounds. As this complexity increased, businesses started developing mechanisms to keep abreast of the customer’s needs and wants. In the early 1990s, the idea of managing everything related to customers through an automated system finally materialised as what we today know today by the name of ‘CRM’.
CRM is the acronym for ‘Customer Relationship Management’ and as the name implies, its scope is to manage all things customer and improve the quality of relationship with all your customers.
Why use a CRM?
Getting a CRM has become a necessity rather than a luxury for every business. A recent survey revealed that more than 90% of businesses that have more than 11 employees use a CRM. Here’s another eye-opener: A CRM-backed salesperson can rake in more than 40% revenue as compared to a non-CRM user.
To strengthen the case for getting a CRM, here is a list of the main features that a CRM system can offer to your business:
- Automation of your sales function – A CRM can manage the data for all current and potential customers, so nothing has to be remembered or recorded manually. Prospecting new leads and managing invoices and bills are two key components of this function.
- Automation of your marketing function – When you have the performance statistics of previous marketing campaigns at your fingertips, it becomes much easier to devise even better plans and the result is higher returns from your marketing efforts.
- Customer contact automation – Every contact that your customers make with your business through any channel, becomes a part of your CRM database. This feature helps reduce the time required to provide the best resolution and it also lets you identify your soft spots for further improvement.
- Customer data analysis – When all the customer data is in a CRM, pulling dynamic reports is only a matter of a few clicks. This information serves as your best advisor for making important decisions to improve customer satisfaction, which is the prime objective of any business.
- Integration with other business processes – A good CRM lets you integrate the customer data with other important processes like emails and financial systems. As a result, a lot of repetitive activities are eliminated, freeing up time to do other important stuff.
CRM’s Impact on Business
It has been well-documented now that a CRM, if implemented and utilised effectively, has the capability to help you meet all three customer related metrics – customer loyalty, customer satisfaction and customer retention.
- Improved Customer Satisfaction – When you have each customer’s data on board, it becomes much easier to provide them with a personalised customer service and the result? Satisfied customers.
- Improved Customer Loyalty – When you use your CRM to customise your communications and special offers based on customer needs, they have no option other than singing praise for you.
- Improved Customer Retention – Customer loyalty and satisfaction is the perfect recipe to retain them and generate more repeat business. A CRM system can boost the loyalty charts by as much as 27%!
Choosing the Best CRM
Small businesses, especially startups, are on a shoestring budget. Keeping that in view, here is a list of the best CRMs that are either free or cost very little:
- SugarCRM Community Edition – One of the best option available out there with loads of features and useful integrations.
- Google Contacts – While we use it (if at all) only as an address book, it surprisingly has a number of CRM options like making a customer database, recording interactions and even collaborating with your team – totally free!
- Odoo – This service offers a CRM module along with a wide range of other apps that a small business might need. The best thing? Seamless integration with all other apps.
- Agile CRM – This is another powerful option with very strong social and email integration options. It is free for 2 users and allows support for 1000 contacts.
This is only a small list, just to get the CRM ball rolling. You should do your homework and explore each and every feature of the available CRMs before picking up the one which most suits your needs and budget.
So why use a CRM? You will never regret the effort that goes into getting a CRM system in place, if you don’t you will be making a conscious choice of getting left behind. It’s high time that you decided to set up a CRM.
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