Managing customer relationships is fundamental for growing startup businesses. They need to interact with clients at various stages of their journey, from making initial contact, for example, by sending them a digital business card, to finalizing a transaction. They also need to collect feedback and ensure successful customer retention.
Like most business processes nowadays, customer relations management can be streamlined with new technology and automation tools. One such tool is CRM (customer relationship management) software. According to the “2021 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark” report, CRM adoption in America last year was at 83.6%.
This article is a short introduction to this technology from which you can learn:
- What is CRM software?
- How does it help businesses?
- What types of CRM software can you choose from?
- What are examples of different CRM tools?
- What are some use cases for CRM software?
- Who needs a CRM system and why?
- What features should you look out for in a CRM system?
- What are best practices in using a CRM system?
- How to develop a CRM strategy?
- Which CRM software will be right for you?
Read on to find out more about CRM systems, why they are useful tools for startups, and how to make the most of the benefits they can bring to your business.
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1. What is CRM software?
CRM software is an essential part of a CRM ecosystem, alongside the people and processes involved in building strong relationships with customers.
Data from all customer interactions that take place across different platforms, such as email, company website, social media, etc, are stored and processed by CRM software so that they can be conveniently accessed and used by staff members.
2. What benefits does CRM software offer to businesses?
As you will learn from this article, CRM software can perform multiple functions. Its key benefits include improving customer relations; ensuring better data management, processing, and sharing. This, in turn, improves the productivity and efficiency of the business overall.
CRM software is used to store data from every customer interaction, organize it, and make it available to relevant staff. You can digitize your customer onboarding process, have customer data sent to the CRM tool, and then have it processed appropriately to facilitate customer interactions at later stages.
CRM tools can also help with reporting and analytics. As these crucial processes get automated, and the work of customer service staff is made easier by the implementation of digital solutions, efficiency and productivity improve too, as more time can be dedicated to revenue-generating activities.
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3. What are the different types of CRM software?
CRM tools can be classified on the basis of the type of installation, and functionality. The first classification divides CRM software into on-premise and cloud-based.
On-premise installation tends to involve much higher costs, associated with the building of infrastructure and with software development. Yet, it can be the more favorable option for some businesses and institutions that need to have full control over customer data and its processing. This applies to banks, insurers, healthcare providers, or companies that store data subject to NDA (you can read more about NDA and find NDA example templates online)
Cloud-based CRM software is usually more affordable than the on-premise option. It also offers more flexibility when it comes to adding new features, and may come with extras, such as maintenance and data security packages provided by the vendor.
The classification based on functionality divides CRM tools into operational, analytical, and collaborative tools. Operational CRM software supports businesses in running sales, marketing, and customer service operations, helping them maintain good relations with customers at every stage of the customer journey.
Analytical CRM tools help with the processing of data collected from customer interactions. Businesses can implement them to identify trends, make more accurate predictions, and make data-driven decisions. Collaborative CRM tools, meanwhile, are used for sharing relevant data within the organization and with external partners to deliver the best customer experience.
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4. What are examples of different types of CRM tools?
There is a wide variety of cloud-based CRM tools available on the market. They may differ in terms of their design and the functionalities they offer. Some of them are free, while others can be accessed in a subscription model.
Examples of operational CRM software include Salesforce CRM, HubSpot CRM, Zoho CRM, or Agile CRM. Examples of analytical CRM tools are SAP Analytics, Insightly, Zoho Analytics, and HubSpot Marketing Analytics, while collaborative CRM tools include Salesforce Essentials, Freshsales, or Pipedrive.
5. What are example use cases for CRM software?
CRM tools can do much more than storing and managing useful contacts and other customer data. There are many other functionalities to be explored and applied in a wide variety of scenarios, such as workflow automation, integrations, and customer feedback, to name just three popular examples.
Workflow automation can save you and your staff a lot of time spent on tasks such as manual data entry, and manual sharing of information across different platforms. For example, an estate agent may use a CRM tool to extract customer data from each apartment lease agreement stored in its system. Then, the data can be used, for example, for analytical purposes.
A CRM tool with built-in integrations can help you simplify your data storage and management if you are using a number of different tools for different purposes. For example, instead of storing contact details in an Excel spreadsheet, records of past transactions in a database, and reports in a reporting application, you can bring all that data together in a single CRM tool.
CRM software can also be integrated with customer feedback tools and help you analyze the data. For example, if you want to know what your customers think of your decision to have fully equipped interactive voice response systems in your customer helpline, you can collect the feedback using a tool of your choice, and then have it processed by the CRM.
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6. Who needs a CRM system?
Thanks to their software integration tool and diverse functionalities, CRM tools can prove useful for many different departments. However, those who benefit from them the most are salespeople, marketers, and customer service teams. Each of these groups uses CRM tools in slightly different ways and may need access to different sets of functions.
Salespeople can benefit from access to complete and up-to-date information about all leads, customers, and their past interactions with the business to nurture relationships with them most efficiently. Automation tools offered by CRM systems can save them a lot of time; filling out a simple business contract template can be left to a machine, while the sales rep is free to make more prospecting calls.
In marketing, CRM software can capture important information about customers and use it to generate more relevant customer communications. It can also automate some customer interactions, which is especially valuable to organizations that deal with large volumes of customers. Automating some interactions and having easy access to customer data can be highly relevant to customer service staff too.
When it comes to the types of businesses that take advantage of CRM tools, they can represent almost all sectors, industries, and sizes. Whether your business is a startup or an established enterprise, there are ways in which you can implement a CRM tool to streamline relevant processes.
7. What features should I look for in CRM software?
As you already know, CRM tools differ in terms of their types and capabilities. When buying a CRM tool, it is good to make sure that it provides some essential data management, automation, and analytical features.
Key data management features include contact, lead, and pipeline management. The most commonly used is sales automation in CRM, while analytical features include sales forecasting, reporting, and analytics. Also useful are file storage and sharing functions, as well as email management.
8. What are the best CRM practices?
It is important to remember that CRM tools are used to deliver the best customer experience. So, your best practices should focus on applying these tools in ways that will best serve this purpose.
It is imperative that you choose the right CRM tool for your business. It is good practice to train your staff to use the tool efficiently, make the best of collaborative functionalities, and adapt to changing customer and business needs along the way.
Leveraging social CRM capabilities is often recommended, along with choosing device-agnostic CRM tools available to use on desktops, as well as on mobile devices. This can be particularly useful when you are trying to help employees overcome the challenges of remote work.
9. How do I develop a CRM strategy?
Experts recommend a multi-stage approach to the implementation of CRM tools. You can prepare for it by auditing the business and examining the sales process to determine how and at which stage the CRM software can make a valuable contribution. Then you can make a list of specific goals you want to achieve by applying a CRM tool.
You can also prepare the staff for the introduction of the new tool, explaining its purposes and training them to use it. Then you need to choose the best CRM for your business, deploy it, and monitor how your objectives are being met. Things may not work perfectly at first, but you can always adjust your practices until you achieve satisfactory results.
Based on data from statista.com
10. How do I choose the best CRM tool for my business?
Choosing the best CRM software is like choosing any tool for a business, be it an accounting software, or an auto attendant phone system. Your choice depends largely on what your company needs, what you want to achieve with the new tool, and the resources you can invest in it. So, to make the best decision, you need to know your business well.
You also need to know which tools are available on the market and which of them can best meet your needs. Having read this article, you should be aware of the main types and features of existing CRM tools and make an informed decision.
Give it a try…
According to a report by Grand View Research, 91% of businesses with 10 or more employees use a CRM system. If you haven’t experienced the benefits of CRM software yet, perhaps it’s time to join them and give it a try.