Tuesday, December 27, 2011

CRM and Small Business Essentials

Location. Employees. Customers. What do all of these things have in common? They are common components essential to any business.

For small businesses that often have limited resources, there are additional elements to consider that are imperative to success. Access to capital is critical to small businesses. In addition, small businesses benefit greatly from marketing and innovation. As they balance product or service innovation, aspects of human resources, and finances, among other things, find ways to manage one or many of these elements.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) first entered the business realm as a means of managing contacts. Rather than flip through the Rolodex or scroll through a spreadsheet to search for client information, CRM software tools can be utilized to quickly access customer contact information, as well as notes about recent business/customer interactions, appointments scheduled with the client, and other information.

Since the inception of CRM applications, the uses have expanded beyond simply being a means of maintaining contacts and have developed into a way for businesses to implement and maintain processes, access information with greater ease, improve business operations, and help build and maintain customer relationships.

Small businesses often do not have full-time IT staff available to maintain software and hardware. The cost of building an in-house infrastructure is not always attainable. Thus, when an IT related issue arises, it often means there is down time while the problem is resolved. Utilizing CRM can alleviate these problems by providing round the clock IT support reliably and convenience. CRM can allow businesses to increase their capabilities without investing capital or time into the development of new infrastructure, the training of new personnel, purchase of new hardware, or the licensing of new software.

In addition to providing businesses with reliable IT services and solutions, CRM also allows for businesses to improve the way they market their products or services to customers, target customers specifically, and establish relationships with customers that will have longevity and profitability. CRM helps businesses to maintain customer information such as purchase trends, determine what products sell or do not sell and generate plausible business leads. Such capabilities reduce the potential of losing important information about interactions the business has had with clients. Instead of worrying about keeping information organized, CRM technology will take care of it. The business can instead capitalize on the organized information in a meaningful way. Having readily available access to such information allows businesses to be much more efficient in the ways they manage marketing campaigns.

CRM technology can allow businesses to run on-demand. People can access customer and product information any time, anywhere. It is readily accessible, automatically upgraded, and is easy to use. Businesses also have the option of customizing the CRM tools to fit their specific needs, as well as integrate the CRM into their current business practices.  Since the data stored within the CRM is offered in real-time, it can be accessed wherever the employee connects to the Internet.  For a small business with only a few employees, being able to access data on the road, or in the boardroom has it’s advantages.

Customer relationship management is a viable solution to many of the needs small businesses have. Rather than concerning themselves with software glitches that may immobilize the system network for an hour, or try and analyze spreadsheets and databases to determine what markets to target, businesses can take advantage of their CRM. CRM takes care of important logistics that make for a successful business without investing significant amounts of time or funds. For small businesses CRM is a means of managing many elements of a business with ease. From record maintenance to marketing, and beyond, CRM provides simple solutions, cost effectiveness, convenience, and reliability.