CRM Systems Today
The term Customer Relationship Management Systems, or CRM systems, typically refers to software designed to store, track, access, and use information about contacts a business has with its vendors, current clients, and potential customers. A good system not only keeps your customers’ contact information (name, address, telephone number, email address, etc.), but will also track your employees’ contacts with those customers, including correspondence, telephone call logs, orders, invoices, contracts, and more.
In the past, only companies with huge budgets could afford CRM systems (both initial outlay and long-term support costs were cost-prohibitive), CRM software took time to install, and employees required extensive training to use it properly, and CRM software included features for which small and mid-size businesses had no use, and that part of the cost was thus a waste for any but the largest businesses. However, any business, of any size, might benefit from having good CRM software systems in place today. CRM systems can now be tailored to meet the precise needs of the business, so there are no wasted features – and no wasted expense.
Have tasks to do? The system will track them. Need to analyze the success of a recent sales push? The system should be able to do that. Does your company’s sales force manager have problems keeping up with off-site sales team members? Having good CRM (customer relationship management) systems software in place, and having employees trained to use it effectively, can solve this problem. Some CRM systems can even track income, expenses, inventory, human resources paperwork, vendor contracts, and more.
Technology can’t exist in a vacuum. If CRM systems are implemented poorly - if employees act independently of one another and the system – customers may end up with a poor view of the business.
As an example: let’s say a business gives 10 members of its sales team a list of 500 customer contacts with instructions that each member of the team should call 50 of the people on the list to see if they would be interested in special discounts the business is considering offering, with no further instructions about how to divvy up the list. The people on the first page of the list are going to be irritated when the 10th person calls them, while the people on the last page might never receive a call at all.
A CRM system, properly implemented, would have each member of the team receiving a different list of 50 customers, and entering a log of each call made, so there would be no wasted time, no customers irritated by duplication of efforts, no missed customers, and a record of exactly what each customer relayed to the team member with whom they spoke. Obviously, it’s possible to do all of that without any technology beyond a few telephones, but automating the processes, and having an efficient software package to store the data, makes obtaining and reporting on the results much simpler and faster than trying to do it the old-fashioned way.
The primary complaint of small business owners implementing CRM systems is the failure of employees to use the software effectively – or at all. Before purchasing or implementing a new system, talk to employees about what features they’d like to see, and find out from your vendors and customers what changes they want in the ways your employees deal with them. Identifying the needs your business has, and then training your employees in how to use the software - and why they should - will ensure that the technology you eventually purchase will suit your needs, and that your employees will use it effectively.
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