As small businesses begin to prosper and thrive, sustainability is bound to be an issue — particularly where customer satisfaction is concerned. After all, as your company grows, priorities and processes tend to change. If left unsupported, those changes could ultimately fracture your company’s relationship with its customers.
In order to ensure that doesn’t happen, more and more companies have started integrating dynamic Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems into their overall growth strategies.
By and large, CRM can be described as the practice of managing and analyzing customer interactions and data with a view to improve relationships, bolster retention and drive future sales. CRM tools not only enable you to centralize customer information, but they also allow you to automate a wide range of marketing interactions, facilitate internal and external communications and track new sales opportunities.
And although CRM has been around for quite a while, it’s only recently started to take off due to advances in affordable software for business of all shapes and size.
What is CRM software?
CRM software is an essential tool for any small business owner, as it instantly consolidates all inputted consumer information and documents into one, easy-to-use place. This enables all staff to access and manage those details at the drop of a hat from any device. More important still, most CRM software tools allow you to record consumer interactions and impressions generated through social media, mailers or other channels to help you develop a firm picture of where your top sales leads are coming from.
Marketing automation is also a huge benefit from using CRM tools. Most software offerings now automate repetitive tasks to enhance your marketing efforts, including the automatic dispatch of promotional materials to sales leads that enter their details onto your web mailing lists.
Sales force automation also helps promote efficiency in your business by automatically tracking all contact and follow-ups with consumers. This not only minimizes duplicate efforts, but it also ensures that customers aren’t falling through the cracks when they submit important queries or complaints.
Finally, CRM software also offers you the opportunity to automate numerous workflow tasks, freeing up your time and giving staff a chance to track the performance and efficiency of team members within a company.
Is CRM software right for my business?
Most CRM software tools have got something for every business – but that doesn’t mean they’re all perfect.
If you’re a small business owner interested in investing in a quality CRM system, it’s always worth shopping around first. Some of the less dynamic platforms may not include functions relevant to your business, and so they’ll probably end up mothballing into glorified customer databases. All datasets need to be properly organized and linked in order to take advantage of integrated CRM analytics, and so there’s no point wasting time inputting all of that data if you can’t do anything with it afterwards.
If you’re after a few more tips on how to choose the right CRM software for your business, Small Business Trends has compiled a comprehensive list.
It’s also worth noting that even when you do have a great CRM system in place, many businesses tend to allow crucial features to go unused because they haven’t properly trained staff how to use them. Without learning how to maximize your software, you probably won’t be able to achieve a single customer view that will streamline your organization efforts.
At the end of the day, only you know what’s right for your business. But no matter what type of business you’re operating, chances are there’s a CRM platform out there for you. Just remember to do your homework, take the time to learn how to use it and don’t forget to pass that knowledge onto the rest of your team.
CRM Photo via Shutterstock
More in: Software and Apps
CRM is great for keeping track of your clients and customers and can help you see gaps and information on why people buy from you.
Nash: What is the difference between a CRM software and an ERP system? When will these computer and business systems add the social element to their specifications?
Thanks for this article. Too many small businesses ignore the need for effective CRM, either because they think they can keep track of it manually, or don’t have enough understanding of the benefits that CRM software can provide to justify the expenditure to themselves.
With the cost of attracting new clients standing at at least five times the cost of retaining existing ones, I believe that effective, properly used CRM systems should be a key part of any business’ operational plan. I will be sure to share this article.