Customer Relationship Management Software
Choosing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is an exciting step forward for your business. Gone are the days of working with a simple list of contacts or relying on guesswork and assumptions; now you can build relationships that are based on facts, stand the test of time and will form the foundation of your business’ future.
Making the right choice will transform your business’ ability to communicate with and understand your customers, streamline your operations, increase your customer base and achieve growth.
So how do you make the right choice? There are hundreds of providers offering CRM packages of all sizes and all prices. It’s important to investigate several providers and software programs to be sure it’s the right fit for you, but what are you looking for?
We’ve put together a brief overview of the things you should be thinking about when you’re shopping around.
An obvious but important point to kick off: what do you need the software to do for your business?
There are lots of all-in-one packages on the market that throw in everything you can think of, but if you never use half of it you are over complicating things, wasting time and probably spending too much money.
Talk to your team about the existing problems they face and what would make everyday tasks easier.
Do some research around the options available to you and make a list of what you need to achieve. The right provider will be able to create a package that suits your business.
The software you choose needs to be the right fit for both your business and your team so take advantage of the free trials on offer. We recommend trialling several programs with the involvement of others in the business. If a program is too complex and difficult for the team to get to grips with then it may be a counterproductive option. Obviously this is down to you to gauge how much time and effort your business can put into it, but is it better to choose a simpler program that frees up time to build customer relationships?
Cloud or Server
A choice to make early on is whether you need Cloud customer management software or one that uses a server. A Cloud system is usually simpler and quicker to implement. It also means your team can access the system while they are out in the field, for example, salespeople or account managers. However a Cloud system passes the security of your data and maintenance outside the company. If you prefer to retain control of this then it may be better to opt for an onsite server.
Security should be high on your list of priorities. You’re working with confidential customer data and sensitive sales information, both of which could be catastrophic in the wrong hands. If you’re currently not using any CRM software, the chances are that whatever you choose will be a step up from a spreadsheet on your laptop or your paper files, but you still need to ask the questions.
For example, access to the system should be protected by strict controls for each user. Where exactly is your data being stored? Have they had problems with security in the past? What is the contingency plan in the event of a breach?
How do you currently, or wish you could, interact with your customers? CRM software is capable of automatically integrating with email, social media, mobile apps and even business telephony systems. The software needs to be compatible with anything existing that you wish to continue using like Mailchimp, Sage accounting or diaries/calendars. Depending on the complexity of integrating the software this may add extra costs so pin this down early on.
There are bound to be snags when introducing any new system, so the question is what support is available when this happens? Some packages include basic email support but this may mean you are waiting for some time before you get a response, whereas some will offer telephone support between designated hours of the day. The best will provide individualised, 24/7 support and advice. If you make a mistake when entering customer information is the system intelligent enough to question it and tell you what to do to fix it?
The most comprehensive support usually has a cost associated with it but if it prevents lengthy pauses in your service it may well be worth it.
The level of reporting you will be able to access will also vary depending on the software. It’s a hugely important factor to consider as it will enable you to pinpoint your business’ strengths and weaknesses so you can move forward in the most profitable way. Some software will deliver broad information or statistics while more complex systems will drill down into the detail. How is the data presented? Is it suitable for those high level meetings or is just for your own information? Can you export into formats like Microsoft Excel?