Using a CRM management system for customer data: the complete guide
Technology has made great strides in recent years and has facilitated and perfected the execution of many operations within companies and startups. A CRM (customer relationship management) management software, for example, is a system that can revolutionize customer management and improve business efficiency and sales.
In this day and age, when competition is increasingly fierce and consumers have an increased focus on customer service, it is no longer enough to be able to satisfy the customer: he or she must be won over. It is necessary to put the customer at the center of all thinking, and to achieve this, the help offered by a CRM program is now crucial.
Knowing what a CRM software is, how it works, and the benefits associated with its use is therefore very important.
What is customer relationship management?
The acronym CRM, as already pointed out, stands for “Customer Relationship Management.”
Generally, when people talk about CRM, they refer to a CRM management system. It is a technological tool designed to make it easier and more efficient to engage with customers (potential and existing) throughout the sales cycle, for example, by recording contact information and collecting and organizing other valuable data (such as customers’ personal preferences on how to communicate).
You should know, however, that the question “What is a CRM?” hides within it multiple answers. In this regard, it is useful to recall the words of Paul Greenberg:
“CRM is not just software, but an approach to business that puts the customer at the center of everything you do.”
There is, however, still another aspect to consider.
Definition and meaning of CRM
When wondering about the meaning of “Customer Relationship Management,” thinking should revolve around 3 fundamental aspects of this concept:
- CRM as technology, i.e., the technology solution (often Cloud-based) that companies use to record, analyze, and build reports on interactions with their customers;
- CRM as strategy, i.e., the strategic approach to business aimed at better managing all the interactions the company has with its customers, which places the customers themselves at the center of all sales activities;
- CRM as a process, that is, the system adopted by companies to manage and consolidate relationships and interactions between customers and the company.
The benefits of using a CRM management system
Collecting, organizing and analyzing all the interactions your startup (innovative or not) has with customers, potential and existing, gives you access to a great deal of valuable information about what piques their interest most, what they buy (and when they buy it) and how much they spend.
By using a CRM program, you can offer personalized and better customer experiences and more efficient and satisfactory customer service, being able to solve customer problems more quickly because of a 360-degree view of their needs and desires.
Offering a service tailored to the needs of individual customers also enables you to enjoy greater loyalty. This, in this day and age, is more important than ever: in fact, never before has it been more cost-effective for a company to retain existing customers than to seek new ones.
With the right information about your customers, you can identify the best offers and present them at the right time, as well as implement cross-selling strategies. In this way, you have the opportunity to increase revenue from sales.
Another of the benefits associated with using a CRM management system is the ability to make processes more efficient by automating a number of operations. Not only that, a collaborative CRM management also allows you to share information between teams, departments and stakeholders and put everyone in a position to work more “smartly” and functionally.
Key features of CRM
If you want to make the most of a CRM platform you necessarily need to know its key features; some we have already mentioned, but you need to consider that technological evolution has now made it possible to integrate new advanced features that go beyond simply storing and organizing information. Think about it: more than the collection of data, what really makes the difference today is the transformation of this information into knowledge.
Contact and interaction management
With a CRM management system you can securely store customer contact information within a centralized database that is always accessible, 24/7. You can keep track of every interaction with an individual customer, regardless of the communication channel used.
Workflow automation and customer analysis
You can automate repetitive tasks and leverage the power of Artificial Intelligence (for example, by enabling chatbot interactions). With CRM management software, you can also predict what customers want and customize their buying experiences based on that.
CRM management integration and mobile security
A CRM management software can be seamlessly integrated with the Web site and other platforms useful for day-to-day business management (from accounting to messaging tools), so you can do it all in one place.
CRM features can be leveraged anytime, anywhere, from any device, thanks to Cloud technology, which also helps you better and faster meet data security and privacy requirements.
How CRM helps different business functions
A CRM software, as you must have realized by now, can help your startup in a number of ways, simplifying and improving customer relationships in different ways and in different business departments.
CRM for sales
With a CRM management system, salespeople can more easily seize opportunities by creating and monitoring various customer profiles and better managing inquiries and leads, as well as the outside service offered.
Such a program is also useful to sales managers, who can monitor the progress of individual team members in relation to achieving their sales goals.
CRM for marketing
At the marketing level, a CRM program makes it possible to analyze customer behavior and plan and execute targeted marketing campaigns.
More specifically, with CRM software, those involved in marketing can have a more complete and clear view of each opportunity or lead and track the customer’s journey from first contact to sale, so as to better plan future activities with the aim of creating unique and amazing experiences.
CRM for service and e-commerce
Being able to rely on a common platform for customer interactions means knowing all their communications (regardless of where they come from) and, consequently, knowing precisely what their needs and desires are. This allows for better handling of complaints and more efficient planning of interventions. More generally, it allows for better customer service.
A CRM is also very useful for e-commerce because it gives the ability to offer customers better omnichannel shopping experiences, from the Web environment (site and app) to the physical store.
Better an in-house or cloud-based CRM?
Previously, we have mentioned several times the possibility of choosing a Cloud-based CRM management system. But is it really the best solution? Now is the time to evaluate the advantages of this choice.
Benefits of CRM Cloud
In addition to the strategic and operational benefits already mentioned (from more reliable reporting to more accurate sales forecasting), one of the most obvious benefits of CRM Cloud, as already pointed out, is the ability to make access to information available to all team members at all times (all you need is a device with an Internet connection and, of course, the requirements and permissions to access it).
The data, stored within a protected and secure environment, can then be checked and, where necessary, updated in real time and from anywhere.
This provides another advantage: physically distant teams can collaborate remotely, without the need to invest significant sums in infrastructure.
There are, however, other benefits as well, specifically related to the implementation of such a management system and scalability.
Implementation and scalability
With the emergence of Cloud-based systems, the need to install software on all PCs and mobile devices in use by the company has disappeared.
Implementing a Cloud-based CRM management system is faster, partly because there is no need to configure hardware components (and undergo maintenance) and by virtue of the fact that software upgrades proceed automatically (the vendor takes care of them). In addition to being easier, the implementation is also more cost-effective this way.
Scalability is also faster: generally, the cost of a Cloud CRM management system is calculated based on the functionality required but also on the number of users who need to have access to the system. Upfront costs are reduced and prices are consistent and predictable over time.
Conclusions and frequently asked questions
If you have read this far, you will by now have a clear idea of what a CRM management system is and the various reasons why you should choose it to manage your startup’s customers; it may be useful, however, to summarize the basic points of what has just been said by answering some frequently asked questions on the subject.
- What is a CRM? Customer Relationship Management refers to the way a company manages its relationships with customers, potential and existing.
- How does a CRM system work? A CRM management system encapsulates within a single, customizable platform all information about each individual customer related to the entire sales cycle. Cloud solutions ensure access to this information at any time and from anywhere, as well as fast implementation and convenient scalability.
- Why is CRM important? A CRM system allows you to learn more about your customers and create more meaningful and profitable relationships. Specifically, it enables the creation of more accurate reports and improved sales forecasts, improving service delivery and thus ensuring greater customer loyalty.