What is CRM?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It is a piece of software that allows people from within (and outside) an organisation to get a view of customers’ profiles, buying patterns and other useful customer-centric information. Its’ primary purpose is to facilitate a better understanding of the organisations’ customers for the products or services that they purchase, the main contacts within the customer base, trends and preferences.
In simple terms, CRM software computerises the process of gaining a customer, selling to them, and tracking the ongoing relationship with them.
CRM plays an important role within business efficiencies and customer retention. There are many types of CRM with vendors like Mamut and Sage servicing the SME sector, vendors like Altitude Software which provides contact centre software for customer interaction, Motorola who provide industrial CRM solutions and then the big gun vendors like Microsoft, Oracle and the well known Salesforce.com. Equally, there are some superb add-ons to CRM such as Sales Quoting & Estimating software from vendors such as QuoteWerks which integrates seamlessly with most CRM packages.
The Future of CRM
CRM is here to stay because of the many benefits that such a system can deliver.
If anything, the use of CRM is set to expand especially with the onset of better mobile technologies (3G) and the use of PDA’s. More specific CRM software is being developed so rather than taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach there are different solutions according to market types. Naturally the demands of a lawyers’ practice is vastly different from that of a manufacturer of motor components.
The purpose of CRM is to be able to track a customer’s lifecycle; from the initial lead (or source of contact) through to the sale and thereafter for support and services.
An integrated CRM system eliminates the need for keeping information about a customer in several places. Tracking a customer’s lifecycle in a potentially haphazard or disorganised way may lead to poor sales results because leads are not follow up promptly, up-selling can be difficult, and customer loyalty can decrease if support requests are not dealt with in a satisfactory way. A good example is when a sales person speaks with or meets a potential client, the information gained and the actions agreed upon are entered into the CRM system and remind individuals when specific dates or milestones have been reached.
As a result, it is possible to achieve greater revenues and margins through improved processes.
Steps to implementing CRM
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