At a glance, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the tracking, analyzing, and forecasting of external interactions and relationships through an online system. It serves to enhance the customer's overall experience. An enhanced customer's experience means improved business relationships. Improved business relationships means business growth and financial health.
CRM solves many challenges faced by small business owners and entrepreneurs including messy data and insights, lackluster customer service, disorganized branding, inaccurate sales tracking, and low productivity.
Features to look for in a CRM software
CRM software was originally designed to be a simple contact management system, but has since evolved into a powerful tool with versatile functions. When deciding which CRM software is right for you and your small business, look for these features:
Let a CRM software take the manual labor out of time-consuming, yet necessary processes including:
- Reading and redirecting customer inquiries or messages to the right person/department.
- Sending a message acknowledgement to the customer inquiry within a respectful amount of time.
- Sending follow-up messages to leads, prospects, or opportunities that did not respond.
Workflow automation features can also take the time out of tedious administrative tasks, such as order processing, order tracking and inventory control.
The best CRM software can cater to your business's unique needs and wants. They allow you to customize the data shown on your dashboard, customize the features and additional extensions of the software, and create custom reports.
External and Internal Customer Service
Internally, CRM software can help you acquire and retain customers by providing excellent customer service. According to Business News Daily, capabilities of your CRM software to look for include:
- A 360-degree comprehensive view of customers that shows everything there is to know about a customer from the first point of contact.
- Automatically tracks all points of communications, from lead acquisition to closed sales and sales histories.
- Logs all incidents, website visits, purchase histories, and other activities for future reference and to keep all reps on the same page.
- Uses customers' first names to personalize all correspondence.
- Has unique reference numbers for each account, customer and help issue.
- Automatically sends customers acknowledgments of their inquiries and messages so they don't feel ignored.
- Supports premade email templates and call scripts that answer the most common questions.
Externally, your CRM software should offer you FREE customer service and be available to answer questions via phone, email, or online chat.
Connecting your CRM software to other solutions and platforms you already use will save you tons of time and money. Having everything in one place will prevent you from having to constantly switch between and manage multiple apps on your desktop.
Ways you can integrate?
- Social Media
- Know what is being said about your brand through social listening.
- Gain customer insight.
- Monitor the numbers (comments, likes, mentions, shares).
- Post original content across channels from one medium.
- Send responses and follow-ups in a timely manner.
- Create different email templates for different types of messages.
- Accounting Software
- Cloud Backup Storage Services
Related Reading: An Introduction to Social Media Marketing for Small Business Owners
CRM software is a great way to track employee activity and performance. Employees can track their hours, tasks, meetings, internal and external communications, sales numbers, goals and other items. The software can also give supervisors access to individual dashboards to more accurately write employee performance reviews, create incentives, reward strong employees, and identify those who are struggling and address areas of improvement.
Analytics from Real-Time Data
CRM analytics offer insight into the people that are buying your products or services. The data provided is important because it can help you better make decisions when it comes to the way you advertise, communicate, and distribute those products and services to your customers. The most up-to-date data needs to be provided in order to keep track of trends, revenue, and product performance.
Business News Daily gives additional questions to ask yourself when considering a CRM software:
- Is it built for small business?
- What is the implementation process like and how much technical assistance is included?
- How easy is it to use? Can I easily train employees?
- Are there any user minimums?
- How easy is it to integrate with other solutions I already use?
- What is the total cost of the software? Are there any setup or additional fees? What if I need to add more users or integrations?
- Is the API accessible?
- What type of security features are built in to the application?
CRM software has exploded in the last decade, so it can get overwhelming trying to find the right service for you and your small business. We've compiled a list of our top picks of CRM software to help you narrow it down.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is and will continue to be the backbone of all successful business operations. Turn the mundane and tedious into an asset by digitalizing your day-to-day responsibilities.
We know that selecting a CRM isn't the only decision you're faced with as a business owner. We're here to partner with you and discuss your business banking needs.
At Flagship, you're not just another number. We are committed to helping your business succeed.