CRM system. What is it about and what is it meant for?
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a system of relationship management with customers. To put it simple, this is a program that enables you to effectively work with your customer base to improve customer service quality and increase the profit of your company.
Why do I need a CRM system and what are its pros and cons?
A CRM system is an effective tool that both facilitates work with customers and projects by automating a number of processes and helps to increase your company's profit by controlling customer management, saving the entire history of your relationship, returning lost customers and coordinating the actions of all company's employees. The system will inform you about a new customer who has filled out an application form on the official website or contacted you in a messenger, will remind the manager to take the necessary and timely actions, provide the senior executive with a sales report and identify inefficient employees. Another issue resolved is the one with customer transfer when the account manager goes to a vacation or leaves the company. The new employee will be aware of the entire history of interaction with the customer. CRM is convenient for keeping all data and access them from any point where there is the Internet, and at the same time, making sure of their security due to flexible access settings for employees. It means that the account manager will no longer be able to take away the entire customer base when leaving the company.
The disadvantages of some CRM systems may feature a complex interface, often with many redundant functions, and, therefore, expensive operation and maintenance. Another cons may be that the time your employees spend on keeping such a system often exceeds the time they would have spent without it, resulting in their frustration and unwillingness to work in such a system.
What types of CRM systems exist?
The principle of operation across the CRM systems is practically the same. Entering information about a customer makes it possible to set tasks and analyze the efficiency of cooperating with them. The differences, as a rule, are about the way information is displayed and about the user interface. Systems with more functions allow you to track orders and issue primary documents such as invoices, acts, bills, etc. It is also possible to connect ip-telephony suitable for recording telephone conversations with the customer, keeping e-mail correspondence and other additional functions.
Some CRM systems contain elements of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). Such systems can include such modules as: planning the company's activities, budgeting, logistics, accounting, personnel management, production management, granting full control over the company's activities to employees and executives. However, the license price is usually quite high. In addition, the time necessary to introduce the system can take up to one year. Additionally, it is worth mentioning industry solutions, when a CRM is created for a specific scope of application, for example, for beauty salons, retail, insurance, construction, etc.
In addition to their functionality, CRM systems differ in the way they are installed. There are cloud solutions with data kept on the server of the CRM supplier, and there are so-called single box solutions providing for the software to be installed on the customer's server not depending on the supplier in any way. The main advantages of the cloud version are low price and quick deployment, since everything is already configured and ready to go. This is especially advantageous for employees working remotely, since the system is accessed through a browser or an application. The single box version must be installed on the server and configured by specialists. In addition, the cost of the single box version will be ten times higher due to the higher price of the license and the cost of installing the system and additional equipment. The advantages of the single box version include the possibility of more complex code refinement and customization, as well as the safety of keeping all the company data on your own servers. However, this advantage is not so obvious, since you will also have to manage protection against attacks and server hacking on your own. Moreover, system administrators can be responsible for information leakage.
Ready-made solution or creation from scratch?
Modern CRM systems have a fairly flexible configuration and allow you to customize them like a construction set, using ready-made modules, which enables their integration into almost any business. Therefore, we suggest ready-made solutions. But if you decide to develop a CRM for your company from scratch, then its creation will include the following steps: analysis of the key features of the system (preferably with a consultant for CRM systems implementation), writing a technical specification for developers (preferably a programming specialist), search for the contractor, monitoring the development of a script, connecting and configuring the finished system, writing instructions and training staff on the basic principles of using the system, correcting errors and monitoring updates. The third option is to supplement a ready-made CRM with your own modules and plug-ins made to order. This option is somewhat easier than writing from scratch. In any case, in the first place, it makes sense to spend time searching for and comparing the systems on the market in order to choose the best option for yourself, since any development requires much more time.
Which CRM to choose?
We can't give you exact recommendations, since the choice of CRM depends on your goal. Should it only include working with customers, then almost any option from the simple systems will suit you, and your choice will mainly dependon the interface convenient for you. If your goal is to take control of the entire process of the company's processes, then choose an ERP system and get ready for a long implementation process and allocate a sizable budget. On the Internet, there are many offers of systems with different characteristics and areas of application. However, neither the popular ratings of the top CRM systems, nor the reviews guarantee you the right choice, since, firstly, each company has its own specifics, and, secondly, the convenience or inconvenience of operation seriously depends on the individual perception of the user. The most advisable step is to install a free demo version and make a decision based on your own experience.