What is CRM
Customer Relationship Management of CRM is the combination of 3 key areas of business operations.
Every business depending on the type of products or services, they come up with their own strategy for these 3 CRM areas to acquire and keep customer base.
Why CRM is important for your business
Customers are the center of any business and if we do not focus on customers, their needs and pain areas then business cant survive for a long time.
Business paradigm is changing rapidly, competition is becoming more fierce, People are using technology to buy from remote locations rather than from brick and mortar shops.
These and many more such aspects demand all businesses to protect their existing customers and acquire new customers regularly.
With the advancements in technology and digital platforms, most of the CRM processes are automated.
Advanced CRM systems also have inbuilt capabilities on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics which helps organisations to make the right decisions at the right time to stay relevant in business.
Areas of CRM
This is the aspect of CRM where businesses showcase their product or services to their prospective customers and bring those in front of them to see and consider for buying.
Every business has to come up with the right digital marketing strategy and make use of the technology to implement and get rewards.
There are various key aspects in the Sales process such as Lead, Contact, Opportunity Management, Quotations & Contract Management etc
After or before sales Support to customer queries or issues is very very critical for customer satisfaction.
A good Customer Service process and systems helps business to gain customer confidence and loyalty which is a key aspect of CRM.
About CRM Softwares
While CRM Processes are not new but the implementation of these processes and activities to automate them has been going on for many years with software products or developments
While there were very successful products which ruled the CRM software industry in last few decades but with the emergence of SaaS, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics, the CRM marketplace has changed greatly
Lot of new and niche CRM vendors have come into play and are getting a lot of traction from businesses.
These software’s not only automate the process but also help business to make intelligent decisions with smart analytics of data.
In this blog we will focus on how to select the right CRM software for your business.
The marketplace is huge and confusing but if you keep your fundamentals right and focus on a data driven approach then you can select the right software for your business.
Parameters to select the right CRM Software
While selecting the right CRM software for your business you need to focus on few key parameters of the software’s to rate and compare the products
Below are some of the key parameters you can consider to identify the right CRM software’s to implement
Fit for your size and type of business
There are various software’s for different sizes and types of business. Same is the case for CRM.
Depending upon your size of business like SME or Large Enterprise or type of business such as B2B or B2C or industry category such as Banking, Retail, Insurance, Travel etc you can filter out the CRMs in your segments
If you are a small and medium size business with focus on selling products or services to businesses and not to end consumers then you may not need a CRM like a B2C and large enterprise need for their CRM process management.
Ease of use
No matter how best the software products is or matured the processes are implemented but if the software user interface (UI/UX) is not easy to use and processes are simple and effective then the adoption of the software becomes difficult
If the users do not adopt the software then you can’t get the desired outcome from your CRM system.
User Experience (UX) and ease of use is one of the key aspects to consider while selecting or building any software product not only CRM.
For this you need to perform testing on demo systems and measure the software in few key areas such as efficient, effective, engaging, error tolerant and easy to learn mentioned as per
Out of the box (OOTB) processes
When you buy a software product you expect the product to provide industry specific business processes pre-configured from out of the box (OOTB) solution so that you don’t have to spend much time and effort in customization
Although in high level CRM processes are the same but it differs from industry to industry and those specific aspects of the CRM for different industries have to be available in the software you are buying.
For example many software’s have their flavors of retail, banking, insurance baking, mortgage banking, insurance etc.
These different flavors help you to go to market sooner with your new CRM software and also use the industry best practice of processes without much analysis from your side
Ease of Customization
In many cases out of the box solution is not possible to address all your requirements.
In that scenario you need to customize the CRM Software as per your business process.
In order to customize those CRM software you need to onboard IT consultants with specific skills.
You need to focus on these areas to check if the underlying technology is not outdated and how easy it is to customize the CRM software’s by yourself or by any IT Vendor.
The more you customize it becomes harder to maintain and upgrade. You need to find out a balance between how much you will use the out of the box process and how much you will change your existing process.
It becomes easy and fast when we use a mobile device to perform our activities, the same is also being acknowledged by businesses and they are moving more and more tasks and activities to mobile devices for faster completion.
The ease of use and availability of functionalities over mobile devices should be one of the key criteria to consider while selecting your next CRM software.
When you use any software and engage with the customer then you can’t afford to have long outages or problems in your software systems.
IT systems are not 100% error free and based on various reasons may error out at times.
You need to respond quickly when such a scenario occurs and for that you need very quick and efficient Support from your software product vendor as well as IT support vendor.
Time to implement
Duration to implement a new CRM system is a key aspect you need to consider.
For your size of company and level of customization you want to do, you need to collect historical information from the CRM product vendor and also implementation partner on average time required to implement your CRM System to use.
You can also plan for a phased roll out to get benefit of using the system sooner.
If you have a robust and phase wise approach to implement sales, marketing and service functionalities then its better to adopt agile delivery model
Nonetheless a research on the overall timeline is a good aspect to consider while selecting a software product. Anything between 3 to 9 months is a good time frame to select any software depending upon the complexity and size of the implementation team.
Analytics & Reporting
Analytics has become the game changer for business. Especially when we have vast amounts of data available to churn and get various insights for planning.
Nowadays artificial intelligence and machine learning is also built into CRM systems or analytics systems to perform predictive analysis.
Analysis of data is a key factor to select a CRM product. If the core product is not capable of performing advance analytics then you should check other niche analytics products that can utilize the data stored in your CRM system to perform analytics for your business decisions
The Sales, Marketing and Support teams regularly need a lot of documents, information while working on their respective areas with customers.
A simple and easy to use collaborative space where all these documents and artifacts can be stored and accessed securely is a must have feature in all CRM software.
Look for a centralized storage space and good Knowledge Management implementation in your next CRM System.
Any system cannot work independently and need to integrate with other systems to exchange data and status of workflow or tasks.
For CRM it has to integrate with the back office ERP systems to give a holistic view of your enterprise and business process end to end.
Apart from that, very critical for CRM Is the integration with collaboration platforms such as e-mail, chat, video and audio calls.
Many CRM systems showcase integration as their key feature and you need to make sure your next CRM system is capable of integration with various other systems without much difficulty.
It’s always good to know from people who already used a product. If available you can collect from public forums.
You can request your product vendor to have a direct discussion with their existing customer
Get the insights from the existing people who are using the system and know what are the advantages and disadvantages for the product as per their experience while using the system
If possible you also should research about the future road-map for the CRM product or ask for the 3 and 5 years road-map and vision.
We have seen many market leaders became less relevant as they were not able to adapt to the technological changes in the IT world.
Also many products became obsolete as they were unable to understand the user expectation and not upgraded their system regularly.
Also its good to know how frequently the software is being upgraded. Generally matured cloud based software companies upgrade 3 to 4 times in a year.
Cost of Ownership
Cost is a key factor in decision making for most of the business and you have to get the right view of the spend to implement your new CRM System
- License Cost
- Implementation Cost
- Cost of Data Migration
- Cost to Decommission existing system (if any)
- Maintenance Cost
- Upgrade frequency and Cost
- Enhancement Cost
Slecting your CRM system is key to your business success. Hope the above key aspects and and explanations will help you to do your proper research in order to select the right product. Its always advisable to take professional services from CRM experts