Customer Relations Management Software (CRM)
If you’re old enough, you can probably remember the days of endless paper files. We had rooms full of cabinets full of folders full of papers. It was systematic and businesses had an easy way to find information on their clients or customers. But it was time consuming, resource consuming, space consuming and often messy. What’s more, when something had to be moved to the back burner – filing papers was usually where the build-up overload began, creating a constant task that needed to be “caught up”.
Sure, multi-million dollar companies had software to keep track of all of the operations and tasks within the company, and maybe that software could also hold their records. But small businesses could never dream of affording that kind of computerized aid.
All that has changed! In 2022 there are numerous software applications that can help businesses of every size simplify the way they do business! In fact, even large businesses can benefit from taking a look at newer software applications to determine whether they can use something that can do even more – sometimes for less than what they’re paying now!
If you’re a business that has never used a CRM – let’s talk about what a CRM is and what it can do for different types of businesses. There are three basic functions of a CRM: To automate workflows; To organize clients/customers/members; and to build relationships.
The first of these – Automating Workflows. Imagine you have a new client. When you get a new client, you have three things that need to happen: You need to enter his/her information to your contacts; you need to add the details about that client – whether they have signed a contract, for example – to whatever system you’re using to track such things; and you need to tell your front office to send a welcome email with your details enclosed. But what if you could tell your CRM software to do it for you? What if you could enter a contact and the software did the other two tasks for you?! That’s what automated workflows do.
The second of these is organizing clients/customers/members. When you work with a lot of people, you need a way to keep the details of that relationship at your fingertips. The first thing that CRM software can do is eliminate all the paper files. You can now scan that info in and have it at your fingertips simply by typing that customer’s name or business name. Once you type in this info; your screen can have a dedicated page to just the person or business you’re thinking about – whether you’re talking to them on the phone or they’re standing in front of you. Now you can see all their details: What did they buy last; what class did they attend last; what event did they volunteer for last? Are you a non-profit? You can see if the customer before you has donated to you recently. And how much they gave last. Need financial details? A CRM can show you when your customer paid; when your member renewed. A CRM can organize every single thing you need to know about your relationship with your customer/client/member. Want even more to love? Most CRM software is Cloud-based. That means you can access it from your tablet at the coffee shop or from your laptop in your living room at home!
The last thing that a CRM does for you is help you build relationships. By having the info about each person you meet and do business with easily accessible, you never run the risk of forgetting a name and you can use a CRM to make notes as important or mundane as you wish. CRM Software can keep track of your emails – and even those of your team, if you wish. Want a note that tells you that Jane Smith from ABC Corp is getting married next week? Done. How about a note that her business is celebrating 50 years in business? Or that her grandfather – the original owner of the company is turning 100 this year? CRM Software can also keep track of the level of a client in the process from the moment you meet until you close the deal. Just met? “Prospective client”. Just talked? “Booked client”? Ready to go? “Needs contract”. Contract signed? “Sold”. When you don’t have to remember every detail – but you can appear as though you do – people remember that and business men and women want to have a connection to those they do business with. CRM Software can give you this advantage.
So how do you know which CRM Software is right for you? This is where each person and company will have a different perspective. It really depends on what you want to get out of it. Maybe you still have that room full of paper and you’d like to see it get smaller – or maybe even go away.
Most CRMs have levels of plans, so you can purchase a low-function level and grow later when, and if, you need to. I’ll answer more of the questions about CRMs below in the question and answer section. If you want to work smarter, not harder, CRM Software can simplify the tasks that you do day-to-day and give you relief from some of the tasks that take time away from actually doing what you love about your business!
- Does your company use a CRM? Which one?
- Do you think it makes more work, or keeps things in line?
- Do you remember mimeographed copies and carbon sheets?