Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software means many different things to different companies. Some use it to manage leads and sales, others use it to manage customer interactions, it can be used for very specific purposes also, such as HR or vendor management.
Large Database – A CRM like Salesforce is a large database that lets authorized users view, update and collaborate on customer, vendor and employee information. It is highly customizable to capture, store and report on data. These databases can be used to validate input and manage workflow. You could create a workflow to manage contracts so you can gather contract information, forward to legal for review and create a monthly report for accounting. This is just one example of being able to create and validate input, manage workflow and report on results. You will need a technical person to help create these customizations.
Electronic Filing Cabinet – CRMs can store documents together in one place. You can tie all information such as emails, word documents, spreadsheets, notes to a contact, organization, opportunity, project or all of the above. Think of it like the old filing cabinets but with more efficient search and reporting. Create good business processes for updating the CRM, garbage in equals garbage out.
Display information from other applications – A good CRM will allow to integrate with other applications to view customer data in one location. For example, before you send an invoice to a client you want to ensure that their accounts receivable is current. Pulling in information from the accounting application will allow you to see current information. It is critical for all CRMs to easily integrate with an email application to store emails.
The CRM space is VERY crowded so that means there are lots of options for you to pick from. Look for a CRM that is popular in your vertical. Make sure that it easy to implement and can grow with your business. Expect to spend time understanding the CRM tool, building the proper business processes and training your team.
Question: What is your favorite CRM and why?
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