Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a broad term that describes programs, tools, and apps that take your contact list to an entirely new level. Attributes vary depending on the software you choose and the tools it contains, but at minimum, most function as a contact list that logs every single interaction you have with each individual customer across multiple platforms. These programs also records sales data and personal information for each customer and lead. The resulting information allows your staff to provide consistent, effective service.
But CRM software can be expensive, and there’s a pretty big learning curve. So how do you decide if you should take the plunge and invest time and money into it? As with anything, there are pros and cons.
How can it benefit my business?
Today’s consumer craves personal attention from companies, and providing that requires that you keep detailed notes on every person you do business with. CRM software not only does this, but it consolidates the information in one program so everyone in your company can access it, add to it, and use it to improve their performance. CRM software can:
- Track customer conversations so you can pinpoint opportunities to upsell products and services
- Log every sale for each customer
- Maintain cross-department notes on personal details so you can go the extra mile – wish customers a happy birthday or congratulate them on a recent launch
- Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your customer support
- Streamline information sharing. Anything a customer mentions while talking with customer support will be available to you or a sales team so they can personalize sales pitches and product offers
- Monitor social media mentions to see what your customers are saying about your company as well as their own, providing chances to upsell, convert a new customer into a lifelong customer, infer what your customer may need before they mention it, and pinpoint any potential issues that may arise during the course of the relationship
Are there any drawbacks?
As with every tool or solution, CRM software may not work for everyone. There’s an inherent risk to centralizing loads of data – information can potentially be hacked, a power outage could tie the hands of your customer support team, and if data isn’t backed up regularly, there is a chance you could lose everything in the blink of an eye. However, these risk are very low, and there are steps you can take to mitigate them further.
In addition to these potential risks, for many businesses the cost of CRM software is the biggest drawback. Although the software itself isn’t necessarily expensive, with various versions at an equally various number of price points available, business owners need to keep in mind the cost of training employees to use the software, both initially and as updates and changes are made. Then there’s the need for technical support – businesses have to hire a new employee to handle the software and help other employees as and when issues arise, or they’ll need to hire a tech support firm to take care of this for them. Either way, this adds a recurring cost to your budget.
For a lot of businesses, especially those with more than a handful of employees or businesses where employees travel frequently or don’t work in one office, the pros far outweigh any cons, and CRM software streamlines customer service, sales, and marketing exponentially. But remember that every business is unique, and there’s never one right answer for everyone.