Over the past few years there has been a significant increase in the use of software by business to manage customer facing processes and it has rapidly moved from being a “nice to have” to being a must have for business success. (CRM) Customer Relationship Management is one piece of software which will provide a competitive advantage. But what is CRM and what benefits will it deliver?
CRM helps businesses build relationships with new customers at the same time as keeping existing customers coming back. CRM is a combination of business strategy and business processes brought together by software which, if implemented correctly, bring significant, tangible benefits to organisations.
CRM solutions will enable you to store all information about contacts, competitors and suppliers in one place. This will mean that there will be no silos of information and therefore no gaps in knowledge ensuring exceptional levels of customer service. CRM will deliver a number of benefits to organisations including:
- Reduced duplication of effort
- Enhanced employee knowledge
- Enhanced customer service
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Increased profitability
What type of company implements a CRM Solution?
In the past, implementing any kind of software solution had significant costs associated with it. However, this was because implementing a CRM solution meant that there needed to be an onsite deployment and that additional hardware needed to be purchased to accommodate it. In the early years the significant costs meant that CRM has previously only been associated with large companies. Now, the price of hardware has come down and there is another hosting alternative. CRM is now available on a hosted platform – this means that the company purchases a CRM solution which is not stored on a server on their site, but is on servers in a datacentre or in “the cloud”. This has made implementing a CRM solution much more accessible for smaller organisations as no additional hardware was required. However, the hosted and SaaS solutions are not used exclusively by organisations which have a low number of users – it is also used by larger organisations that are just starting out with CRM.
How do I choose a business partner?
When implementing a CRM solution, often the best place to start is to create a list of requirements and split the list into an essential and nice to have list. Once you have a list of defined requirements it will be easier to inform a potential partner of the deliverables of the project. When selecting a business partner the most important thing is to find a partner which you believe best understands the requirements of your organisation. It is also important to consider other customers they already have, so asking to see case studies will provide you with an insight into the quality of their work. It may also be possible to visit some of their customers so you can actually have a face to face meeting and ask questions about the company. It’s also important to consider their support network, having the right level of support when starting out with a new piece of software can be the difference between project success and failure.
Will it integrate with my ERP solution?
There are many CRM solutions which will integrate with ERP solutions, however this is not often an out of the box functionality and if you want your front and back office staff working from the same data it is essential that you make this clear from the outset of the requirements capture process.
Having a CRM system which is fully integrated will mean that both front and back office functions will be working from the same data and this will mean that there will be increased visibility across the organisation.
No matter which hosting alternative you choose and whether it integrates with your ERP solution or not, it’s clear that providing it is implemented correctly CRM will deliver significant benefits across the whole organisation.