Customer relationships have a huge role to play in determining the success of a business. Negative customer relationships can spell doom for a business; conversely, if a business makes a sustained effort to foster a positive and enduring relationship with its customers, it will find profits hitting the roof.
The cost of bad customer relationships or customer service for businesses, in a worst case scenario, is downing of shutters. This is why businesses must make customer relationship management an integral part of their growth strategy. They can’t afford to be lax about the quality of support they are offering customers. As a business, you must have your finger on the pulse of your customers. You must be able to respond quickly to their needs and requirements and even faster if they are sharing negative feedback about your product.
In spite of customer relationships being central to their success, there are still some businesses that turn a blind eye to the importance of interacting with current and future customers. This is surprising because you now have software available that can help you effectively and seamlessly manage customer relationships. You can make use of technology to automate key business processes such as sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support.
The right CRM (customer relationship management) software will help your business achieve the highest levels of customer centricity. But the keyword here is right. You need to choose CRM software that fits your business needs and requirements. It must align with your organization’s processes and objectives.
So, how do you go about choosing the perfect CRM for your business? Here are six tips that will help you do that:
1) Make Sure It Will Meet the Growing Needs of Your Business
Your business will evolve and grow. Will the CRM software you are thinking of using keep pace with this growth?
For example: Over time you will add more sales channels to your business. Can the CRM manage the new customers resulting from increased sales? This is just one of the many instances when your CRM will need to keep pace with your business’s growth. Your CRM should be dynamic and scalable; otherwise, it will only impede growth.
2) Look for a Productive CRM
There are some CRMs available on the market that are fairly comprehensive in their scale and scope, but these are quite complex to work with. What you need is a CRM that smooths the sales cycle and provides access to relevant customer intelligence quickly. This aids faster results-oriented decision-making. Look for a CRM that makes your business more efficient and also helps your employees become more productive in their sales and customer support efforts. Stay away from software that can slow you down.
3) Go for a SaaS-based Solution
Why SaaS (software as a service)? 41% of all CRM systems sold in 2013 were SaaS based. So, they must be doing something right. Cloud-based service providers use a subscription-based business model, which means the initial investment you make in the CRM service is at the lower end of the scale. You can scale up the subscription package as your needs change. The great bit about SaaS is you can get your hands on an advanced CRM solution at highly affordable rates. And because this CRM is hosted on the cloud, all data generated by the system is easily accessible.
Also, the third-party provider is in charge of maintenance and upgrades. All you need to do is focus on leveraging the maximum potential of the CRM.
4) Try Before You Buy
Don’t buy a product or get locked into a product before you actually try out its features. Don’t get taken in by vendor hype or all the good things you are hearing about CRM software (through some brilliant marketing on the part of the vendor). Make sure you try out an evaluation copy of the software so your team can use it and judge its features and benefits for themselves. You need be very sure that the CRM delivers on its promised functionality, meets the highest standards of usability, and can integrate seamlessly with your business’s existing IT environment.
This will guarantee you don’t pick the wrong CRM.
5) Find the Right Vendor
Choosing the right vendor is as important as picking the right CRM. Make sure you have every detail available about a vendor including their experience in the domain, expertise, clients, partnerships with big ticket tech companies, and maintenance and support levels. The idea is to be confident of whom you are buying your CRM software from or whose software you are subscribing to (in case you opt for a SaaS based solution).
6) Consider ROI
How will the CRM improve business profitability? You don’t want to make an investment that doesn’t deliver returns. The benefits of the CRM must deliver ROI. But for that to happen, you will need to identify the various parameters on which the CRM’s ROI will be judged. Will increased sales tell you that the CRM is delivering returns? Or will lead generation increases indicate the CRM's value to your organization? If you know how you are going to measure the ROI of the CRM, you will be able to buy a product with features that deliver on your goals. That’s how you can select a CRM solution that perfectly meets your expectations.
With the number of CRM options available, you will face a problem of plenty when you go out there searching for the right solution. It’s natural to be confused, but the key here is to make an informed decision.
Don’t buy a CRM system just because somebody says it’s good for you. Buy it because you know it’s good for you.
Originally published Nov 17, 2014 7:00:55 AM, updated July 28 2017