19 Nov What Is a CRM?
Managing customer relationships and important customer information is critical for all businesses that interact with customers. Without proper customer relationship management, it can be difficult to increase your sales numbers, grow your marketing strategy and improve your overall customer experience.
So, how can you manage customer relationships effectively?
To stay on top of the competition and to deliver the best service to your customers, you’ll need the help of technology. One crucial tool that can help manage and build strong business relationships with your customers is a CRM software, often called just CRM for short. CRM is an abbreviation for (you guessed it) customer relationship management. With a CRM system, you can securely store customer information and improve how you do business.
To get the most of your CRM software, you’ll need to understand what a CRM solution actually is, how CRM compares to other similar but different systems, and the different types of CRM systems. Let’s get started!
Defining Customer Relationship Management
Customer relationship management, in a broad sense, is the processes and strategies used by a business to grow and cultivate relationships with its customers. CRM services provided by a dedicated software make these processes and strategies more focused by collecting all the information you need in a single digital space. This information includes customer contact information, customer interactions such as completed surveys and tracked communications with your business, and purchasing history. All combined, you get a clear understanding of your customers and how your business can best meet their needs.
In summary, according to Webopedia,
“CRM solutions give organizations business data to help provide services or products that your customers want, offer better customer service, help sales teams to cross-sell and up-sell more effectively, close deals, retain current customers and to better understand exactly who your customers are.”
While CRM platforms of the past were standalone, modern CRM solutions can sync to the cloud and be accessible on a wide range of internet-connected devices. All of this sensitive customer data must be tightly protected by encryption and security protocols, which many CRM systems provide. You can also integrate your CRM into other applications, including marketing automation, business analytics and enterprise resource planning.
So, what’s the difference between CRM and these other applications?
What CRM Is Not
CRM and CRM software do share some similarities with different business systems, but they are not the same. Understanding the differences between these systems will help your business better use them to its advantage instead of getting overwhelmed by redundancies. Two systems similar to CRM are ERP and marketing automation. While all these systems store and analyze customer data to help improve your business, each has its own unique advantage.
Let’s take a look at the functions of these three systems:
- ERP — Short for enterprise resource planning, ERP streamlines the delivery and production processes of your business. An ERP solution will also help you track and manage the financial details of your sales.
- Marketing automation — Marketing automation tools keep track of your communication campaigns with customers through mediums such as email marketing and social media. Automating your marketing with existing or potential customers helps gather relevant customer leads and helps you learn more about your target audience.
- CRM — CRM systems then help convert those leads gathered through marketing automation into actual customers. As previously covered, a CRM will also help you manage relationships with current customers to improve brand loyalty and the customer experience.
These tools work best in tandem as a way to ensure your customers are satisfied throughout their buyer’s journey. Together, they can help take your business to the next level.
Types of CRM Systems
Before you choose your CRM provider, you’ll need to know what kind of CRM system your business needs. They perform many of the same basic functions of other CRM software, but their differences come down to how they operate. Here are three of the most common types of CRM systems:
Cloud computing, which is also called on-demand or SaaS (software as a service), is the basis of cloud-based CRMs. The data within the CRM system is stored on a remote external network, which your employees can access from anywhere with a working internet connection. Benefits of a cloud-based CRM include high levels of data security and cost-effectiveness over time by paying on a subscription basis.
As the name implies, on-premises CRM resides within a server that your business owns and operates. This means that all administration, maintenance and security responsibilities will reside in-house. Your business will have to pay both the licenses to the software upfront as well as any updates later on. Small businesses may not see the benefit of an on-premises CRM, but large businesses with intricate CRM needs may opt for the added control of an on-premises CRM solution.
- Open Source
Open source CRM means the source code of the software is open to the public. This allows businesses to make updates to the software itself at no extra cost to businesses using the system. Benefits of open source CRM systems include the ability to add and customize data links on social media, which can help businesses aiming to grow their social CRM strategy.
CRM Solutions for UK Businesses
Cloud-based CRM solutions provide the best value, highest security and easiest usability for small businesses of any industry. If you’re looking for a CRM provider for your UK business, look no further than Virtual Stacks Systems UK! Our cloud-based CRM software eZnet CRM is customizable to the needs of your business for tracking and improving your customer relationships. Some of eZnet CRM’s many features include data administration, marketing automation, document library, lead management, inventory management, scalability, and mobile accessibility. Contact us today to learn more and to start your free 30-day trial!