Friday, June 17, 2011

Learning The Ropes: New To CRM?

CRM is the secret behind many successful businesses, large and small. Companies that use a CRM system know that by focusing on the customer, they can build a better business. No, CRM is not a magic formula, a secret code, or allowed to only the most elite businesses. It’s a simple, inexpensive program available to anyone who wants it – you just have to know where to look.

Customer relationship management means just that – managing the business’s relationships with its customers. Often, CRM solutions include smaller elements like contact management systems, knowledge management systems, and sales force automation, depending on the needs of each individual business. When these elements are put into motion, communication is streamlined, employees have better information about the people they interact with, and customers on the other end feel a personal touch.

Customers can tell when a company is being insincere with their service. Often, businesses that run ineffective customer service will lose customers along the way. Understanding the needs and wants of the customers in the beginning, and planning your business around that, is essential to being successful down the road. With CRM, this can be accomplished easily and effectively. More than a technology, it’s a strategy. The most effective CRM plans have direction behind them. We can’t rely on a machine to do everything, can we? CRM helps shift that focus. Giving the human touch, along with an effective CRM, is what can drive business to the top.

There are a few different types of CRM. One is through software, the other is based online. You’ve probably used some kind of CRM software before—either by combing Excel with another program, or a complete package hosted on your office server.

The online versions, known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), use cloud-computing technology to deliver the same services as self-hosted programs, but without all the hassle. In addition, you can access all of your information from anywhere – mobile phone, home computer, or laptop – because the system is Web-based. If you’re not familiar with cloud computing, just think of an e-mail server like Gmail or Yahoo!, and you’ll get a good idea of how it works.

While we’ve just discussed the very basics here, there is a lot more to learn about CRM. Please feel free to browse through other entries, where we touch on the finer points of individual elements within CRM, and provide in-depth, real-life examples of how businesses are using these tools to their advantage.
CRM is a must-have for businesses with customer-focused and service-driven goals. Think about what you want as a customer of another business – attention, knowledge, value, convenience – and aim to give that to your customers. With a CRM in place, it will not only be easier to do this, but it can be fun as well.