One of the Three-Letter-Acronyms (TLAs) we hear most when discussing technology with business owners is CRM. These three letters have become today’s standard description for what used to be called the Customer Database.
The Customer Relationship Management market has been expanding rapidly over the past few years and is predicted to become a £22 billion business within the next three years. There are currently five companies who control around 48% of all CRM use. But when only 1% of the market means a £22 million annual revenue, it’s easy to see why there are so many new systems becoming available.
Before asking yourself the question, “Is CRM right for me?”, you really need to ask yourself, “What do I need?”. And that’s not just what you think you need now, it’s what you think you’re going to need in 6 months, or a year, or even in 5 years time. As all successful companies must be looking to grow and progress in order to stay relevant and out-do their competition, it is very important to be able to look to the future and have an idea of where you think you’ll be.
For smaller, newer businesses it’s very important to keep tabs on all expenses and make sure that everything you’re setting up can integrate with each other so not to restrict workflow. Some things to look for in your CRM would be:
- that it’s not overly expensive
- interacts with your existing applications
- fits into existing workflow
- and is actually a real need that you will gain use from
What’s it for?
Once you know exactly what it is that you need, you can work out if CRM can be your answer to your problems. Do you need help with your funneling or with customer retention? Finding a solution to your funneling problem will probably help you to improve your ability to reach new customers, rather than closing deals with ones that you already have. However, if you need a CRM to help you retain your current customers, then that will most likely link well with your email campaigns and maintain good contact with those customers for a long period of time.
If you’re not sure if CRM can benefit your business, there are a few things to consider that should help you decide.
- Customer Service Analysis: You can analyse current service practice and work out where it may fall short, allowing you to alter your strategies in order to retain the customers that may have been slipping away.
- Higher Quality Leads: The continual increase in data, improved contact segmentation, and targeted campaigns means your leads are more likely to become customers.
- Workflow Automation: Repetitive manual tasks can be cut down to reduce admin work and allow staff to work on more productive and profitable work.
- Customer Purchase Patterns: Users can easily access customer order histories to view buying patterns and identify new sales opportunities.
There are many further uses for CRM, and as the benefits can be substantial, it can be very easy to become overly reliant on the service. It’s important to remember that even if you think CRM is right for your business, to get the most out of it you must be sure that your management systems and all other processes are running efficiently and not to assume that applying CRM tools will be the key to your business’ success.
The cloud and CRM
In the past the options available for a business looking to implement a ‘customer database’ were very limited – it was a market with a small number of dominant players. Today, with the ferociously competitive open playing-field of the internet, there are numerous excellent CRM systems that are strong in their own right but can also integrate closely with leading business cloud platforms. Such an environment can only be good for small and medium-sized businesses looking to take their operations to the next level.