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What is customer relationship management software?
Customer relationship management (CRM) software allows businesses to better manage customer interactions, support, and relationships through reliable systems and processes. It also integrates organizational processes across marketing, sales, and customer service.
The benefits of customer relationship management software
- Easy access to customer data: A customer relationship management system includes a searchable database that allows users to access client and prospect information during meetings. Some solutions also let users sync information across multiple devices, offering them access to the most up-to-date information on customers from anywhere.
- Streamlined processes through automation: Customer relationship management software lets users standardize different workflows and processes associated with sales, marketing, and customer support to increase coordination between these teams.
- Actionable insights on business performance and customer behavior: Vendors of some customer relationship management tools offer analytics functionality, which allows users to create customizable dashboards and reports based on customer data. These reports help in segmenting customers, tracking revenue, and managing personalized campaigns.
Typical features of customer relationship management software
- Contact management: Create a searchable database of customer and prospect information.
- Track interactions: Document conversations with customers and prospects on different channels such as phone, email, live chat, or in-person.
- Lead management: Track and manage leads throughout the customer lifecycle. This involves lead capture, storage, distribution, nurture, segmentation, and pipeline management.
- Calendar/reminder system: Create reminders about calls or meetings and synchronize these with the user’s calendar. A user can also set reminders via desktop notifications, calendar notifications, emails, or text messages.
- Document storage: Store, share, and manage documentation and paperwork.
- Segmentation: Divide the customer base into groups based on attributes such as age, gender, location, and preferences in order to create targeted sales and marketing campaigns.
Considerations when purchasing customer relationship management software
- Types of customer relationship management tools: A customer relationship management system falls into at least one of three buckets based on their functionalities: sales automation, marketing automation, and customer service and support. Sales automation solutions help users manage inventory, order processing, and sales reporting. Marketing automation solutions help users create and manage marketing campaigns. Customer service software helps track and manage customer queries. Users should assess their customer relationship management system needs and shortlist products that meet their specific needs.
- Total cost of ownership: The market is flooded with solutions that offer different pricing models depending on functionality breadth and deployment options, among other factors. But these options also differ in the total cost of ownership, depending on multiple criteria such as mode of deployment (cloud-based vs. on-premise), training time and costs, implementation time, and technical support costs.
- Data storage capabilities: Customer data is at the heart of a customer relationship management system. But the software also stores other data such as customer interactions, calendars, and campaign performance metrics. This makes adequate data storage a must-have when purchasing a solution. Buyers should assess their current data needs and estimate future needs.
Relevant customer relationship management software trends
- Adoption of a social customer relationship management system is on the rise: Social media usage is growing faster than ever. According to the Global Digital Report 2019, there are currently about 3.5 billion active social media users, indicating a 9% year-on-year growth compared to 2018. To build a social media strategy, small businesses can use social customer relationship management software that helps them manage their social media channels, run marketing campaigns, and track campaign performance in real time. Capterra's customer relationship management software directory allows you to search for software by the desired feature, including social media integration.
- AI is the future of small business customer relationship management tools: Small businesses are realizing the role that artificial intelligence (AI) can play in boosting the performance of customer relationship management software. According to a Salesforce survey, fast-growing SMBs are twice as likely to use AI when compared to slow-growing SMBs. An important application of AI in a customer relationship management system is chatbots: According to a Capterra technology trends report, 68% of small and midsize businesses are either currently using or plan to implement chatbots.