With hundreds of options available, how do you know which CRM features and functionalities to prioritize for in your software selection?
Customers hold the key to your business success, and a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software will help you centralize customer relationships and grow your small business. Optimizing sales is important to reach your big picture goals.
A CRM solution centralizes all the data pertaining to your current and future customers, so that your team may remain on top of their tasks. Agents will be able to log accounts of customer purchases, calls, emails, chats, support tickets, etc. This way, no detail of a customer’s relationship with your business will slip through the cracks.
CRM solutions are available to accommodate businesses of every size and budget: from a small subscription-based model to large-scale enterprise installation. Companies both new and established benefit from using an suitable CRM solution.
A CRM facilitates cooperation, boosts efficiency, and increases customer satisfaction over the course of their entire journey.
Digital marketing has made it possible to maintain more relationships than ever before. With a single Facebook or Twitter update, you can send a message to all of your friends simultaneously. While most businesses utilize digital marketing to their advantage, many are realizing that just maintaining consistent contact isn’t enough. Today’s consumers expect business communications to contain value that reflects their personal buying preferences as well as quality products and services at affordable prices.
That’s why more businesses are taking advantage of all the benefits that a CRM (Customer Relations Management) software has to offer. The ability to gather and store information about potential new customers, such as how, where, when, and why they visited your site, is just the beginning. Analytics uses that information to ensure that future communications are personalized according to their personal preferences and buying habits. Automation makes it possible to let each and every one of those potential customers know that their visit was appreciated as well as send them more information about a specific product or service.
One of the greatest benefits of a CRM is the ability to expand your customer base without neglecting the loyal customer base you’ve already taken so much time and care to cultivate. CRM software is designed specifically for that purpose and also gives your customers more choices in how they communicate. Some prefer finding information through having enjoyable conversations with other customers, while others prefer a live chat with a customer service representative.
Though CRM solutions pile on the bells and whistles in an effort to attract customers, the reality is that there are a few core features that have most of the impact on your business. While examining your options for CRM, focusing on these features can prevent you from being distracted by features that, while interesting or even promising, will not do the CRM heavy lifting your business needs now.
The challenges posed by current economic conditions are forcing companies to evaluate CRM products in a more critical light. Businesses want more from CRM but they want it in fewer, simplified features. They’re also focused on a new goal: relationship optimization.
The key to achieving the goal is being highly proactive. You must anticipate and then act on customers’ wants and not just react to their basic needs. Collecting data on past customer behavior is no longer sufficient. Now CRM must also reach past corporate walls to seek out new customers and resolve public criticism.
New social media tools, sites and related content are increasingly being valued by companies looking to assess consumer preferences and market products effectively to different buying groups.
Thus, the critical features most sought after today look far different than those heralded just a few months ago. Critical ‘must-haves’ for any CRM product is the ability to see ‘who knows who’. Another critical feature is having strong behind-the-scenes data cleaning tools to help keep the database clean. In this article, we explain what are the must-have features your business should not avoid.
- Simplicity and ease of integration: There’s no sense in investing in CRM technology if you can’t get your workers to use it. Nothing hurts adoption more than a difficult to use and difficult to implement application. As is often the case, “the more complicated the software and the more functionality it has — which usually doesn’t relate to what is required — the more people refrained from using it. Tracking capabilities and simplicity are truly critical features to look for in a CRM solution.
- Remote access: A CRM solution that can only be used in the office is really no solution at all. Data must be entered into it from all manner of locations — at trade shows, at customer sites, from partners’ premises — and remote workers can’t be handicapped by a dumbed-down version of the solution.
- Mobile access: Remote access refers to the ability to see CRM data on a computer screen; mobile access refers to the ability to see CRM on a handheld device. This is especially important for field sales personnel, who not only need contact information and other basics but who may need access to sales collateral, data from back-office systems and organizational schedules in order to complete deals. Companies can no longer afford to take a tactical approach to enterprise mobility. Businesses need to look strategically at how mobility can support the enterprise and how it can be integrated to optimize processes.
- Integrated analytics: It is not enough to collect data; you must also understand it and what it signifies before you can use it as a basis for action. CRM solutions must provide business users with access to decision-making analytics, both for sales and for marketing. The best CRM solutions enable the user to select campaigns, target consumer groups, define and apply treatment strategies, measure results across multiple channels (online and off-line) and build results back into the planning process for future campaigns.
- Campaign management: A CRM solution should provide powerful campaign management functionality, enabling workflow from initial campaign concept through build, test, deployment and measurement. Mobile is becoming an even more important part of CRM solutions as results delivery to handhelds and PDAs is critical. Also, cross-sell/up-sell functionality is important to consumer-direct businesses operating an online marketplace.
- List management/master data management: The CRM solution should enable management of multiple lists. This allows business users to establish lists and also allows for real-time list segmentation and data management.
- Document management: The CRM solution must enable collection, uploading, storing, and share documents in a centralized location, making it easier for everyone involved to access information. A centralized hub for important documentation like quotes, proposals, contracts, etc., can go a long way toward ensuring all team members are in the know, and promotes a smooth, consistent experience for your customers.
- Flexibility and customization: A CRM aphorism is that every successful CRM solution is customized in some way. Because of that, it’s important that the solution you choose is customizable and flexible. It has to support an organization’s processes or you won’t get the full value out of your purchase. The ability to customize has to come in a simple, straightforward form and apply throughout. An easy to customize dashboard is critical.
- Lead generation and follow-up tracking: Relying solely on a sales force to do all the rights things can be a suicidal approach. A CRM strong in lead generation and follow-through, both in automated customer communiques and reminders to sales people, can quite literally save the day. Most sales representatives survive on daily fresh-ups and do little or no follow-up. Statistics, however, show a large number of people take 45-60 or more days to purchase. There’s a lot of lost opportunities.
- Workflow automation: The CRM solution should be able to automate repetitive tasks by creating workflows that trigger actions or send follow-up reminders for next actions. Automating repetitive tasks would free up team members for more nuanced tasks, making them more effective and productive.
Don’t be dazzled by the latest and greatest features in a CRM system. They may be attractive, and you may even be able to imagine how they will benefit your business, but your buying decision should be based on what have been proven to be the core features over time. These features provide you with a foundation upon which to build your unique approach to CRM; without this foundation, all your plans are likely to crumble.
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