CRM – Is It a Fit for Your Mid-Size Business?

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In years past customer relationship management (CRM) software applications were a costly, difficult to implement, one-size-fits-all way of helping a company understand who their customers are and what they want. This effectively put CRM out of the running for use in mid-size companies. However, CRM has been undergoing a change recently, peeling away its prior image as costly and cumbersome – good news for midsized companies currently caught in a squeeze between the fleet footedness of small companies and the sheer force of large conglomerates.

So what’s changed then? For one, it’s become easier and cheaper to purchase. It’s become more modular via service-oriented architecture, meaning that it can easily be incorporated around a company’s existing software, thus dramatically lowering the installation costs. The rise in open source material has also made finding a cost effective and less cumbersome CRM software package a far easier task.

But the increased affordability isn’t the only change being witnessed. The rise of social media has caused CRM to undergo something of an evolutionary leap. The interconnectivity that social media has opened up across a now smaller and smarter planet means that CRM can be thought about in a whole new light.

Indeed, social media now allows for a company to gain unprecedented insights into a customer’s attitude, behavior and patterns. The flip side is that although many companies are aware of the incredible opportunities that social media presents, there’s still some confusion about how to best approach it and utilize it. Companies are beginning to understand that every word they say, every word they write, every action they undergo is in the public domain and under constant scrutiny. Mess up in the eyes of the consumer and you may lose them forever – second chances are rarely given in this day and age.

Thus, it is imperative to ensure that CRM is tightly woven into the fabric of your business processes, in order to get everyone operating on the same page. Customers are interacting with companies via a far greater array of mediums than ever before (websites, stores, social media, phone); and integrating CRM across all these platforms and a company’s business processes helps to make sure employees always have access to the necessary customer information at every point of the customer relationship.

CRM is all about gathering the required knowledge and insight about your customers to serve them better. This means getting data from a wide spectrum of sources, integrating it and making sense of it all. Customers are becoming more and more business savvy; they will no longer tolerate contradictory information coming out of different channels from a business. CRM allows for a company to tailor exactly what a customer needs based on data about what that individual customer is actually looking for.

Though CRM is by no means a new application, the new breed of customer that the digitized world has produced has created a situation whereby the customer is in control of the business relationship. Companies must now see every step of customer involvement as important, not simply the end sale. But what this also means is that by integrating CRM with social media and other business processes, businesses have an opportunity to capture a wealth of information about their customers that they never before would have had access to. Ultimately, this will help a business better understand what a customer wants and how best to deliver it.

Research for this post was provided by eFood-ERP, a provider of food inventory management software.

Aaron Kesteloot
Aaron Kesteloot is a Microsoft Dynamics NAV end-user and channel manager who brings over a decade of accounting and account management experience from both not-for-profit and for-profit perspectives. He is currently the Sales Manager at eSoftware Professionals and eFoodERP where he helps clients make the right software decisions.

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