What is a CRM. Best practices
Understanding CRM: A Comprehensive Guide
While many businesses are aware of what a CRM is, few utilize it effectively.
In this article, we’ll explain the purpose of having CRM software and how this tool can help you better understand audience and customer data for more efficient use.
¿What is CRM?
CRM, an acronym for Customer Relationship Management, is a concept that encompasses the strategy, set of practices, and technologies for managing and administering a company’s interactions and relationships with its leads, potential customers, and existing customers.
Its primary objective is to enhance business relationships, helping companies stay connected with customers and optimize processes at each stage of the conversion funnel.
A Brief History of CRM
Origins of CRM (1980s – Early 1990s)
- Early 1980s: The CRM concept emerged from database marketing, a method used to collect and analyze customer information.
- Late 1980s: The first Sales Force Automation (SFA) systems were developed, focusing on integrating and automating sales and marketing functions.
- Early 1990s: The focus shifted to automating contact management and tracking customer interactions, the precursor to modern CRM software.
Evolution of CRM (Mid-1990s – 2000s)
- Mid-1990s: The term “CRM” gained popularity, and integrated solutions offering more than basic contact management began to appear.
- Late 1990s: More robust CRM solutions emerged, including functionalities like customer service and technical support, in addition to sales and marketing.
- 2000s: CRM expanded to include managing interactions across multiple channels, such as email, phone, web, and social media.
Rise of Cloud-Based CRM (2010s)
- Early 2010s: With the rise of cloud computing, cloud-based CRM systems became popular due to their accessibility and scalability.
- Mass Adoption: Businesses of all sizes started adopting cloud CRM for its cost-effectiveness and ease of integration with other tools.
- Customization and Flexibility: CRM systems became more customizable and adaptable to the specific needs of different businesses.
Integration of Advanced Technologies (Late 2010s – Present)
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: The integration of AI and machine learning has enabled CRMs to offer deeper insights and large-scale personalization.
- Automation and Prediction: Modern CRM systems not only collect and manage data but also predict trends and automate tasks to improve efficiency.
- Omnichannel Customer Experience: The current focus is on providing a consistent and personalized customer experience across multiple channels.
Types of CRM
CRM typically involves a tool that allows for tracking and providing additional support or services to customers, consolidating the management of contacts for leads, customers, and suppliers, sales management, productivity, and assisting in finding new customers, among other benefits.
There are two types of CRM software:
1. CRM On-Premise
Also known as Local CRM (CRM On-premise), this type is maintained on a local computer or server dedicated to the company, requiring monitoring and support by an in-house technology team. This means it is self-hosted and not cloud-based. Examples of these local CRMs include open-source and proprietary or closed-source CRMs. Although less common than cloud software, examples like ACT!, OroCRM, and SuiteCRM offer free trials to explore their features before making a final decision.
2. CRM Cloud
This is the second type of CRM, which operates online and is hosted on an external server, known as Software as a Service (SaaS). It’s the most common today, though both On-premise and Cloud CRM offer multiple benefits for customer management.
Benefits of Having a CRM
Having a CRM system allows for the collection of data that aids in designing marketing campaigns, as it enables market analysis to better understand potential customers and accompany them throughout their journey in the conversion funnel.
This tool facilitates the storage of important and necessary information about leads and potential customers, identifies new sales opportunities, records service or product issues, among other things.
What characterizes the use of a CRM system in companies of any size is the opportunity to consolidate everything relevant in the relationship with external customers, aiding in the tracking of established objectives for sales and profitability.
Moreover, it captures everything from the personal information of leads and customers (name, phone, email, etc.) to their purchasing preferences, order status, social media activities, visit history, and much more.
Thus, it is an instrument that facilitates all processes with the lead, both from marketing and sales perspectives.
Integration of CRM with Other Tools
Integration with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
- Sharing Information Across Departments: Integrating CRM with ERP systems allows for a smooth flow of information between sales, marketing, finance, and operations departments.
- Unified Customer View: Customer data, from the first contact to post-sales, including billing and service details, are unified, providing a complete view of the customer lifecycle.
- Process Automation: For example, an order generated in the CRM can be automatically processed and managed in the ERP system, improving efficiency and reducing errors.
Integration with Digital Marketing Tools
- Marketing Automation: Integration with marketing automation platforms allows for customer segmentation, message personalization, and management of campaigns based on CRM data.
- Campaign Effectiveness Tracking: The impact of marketing campaigns on lead generation and conversions can be measured, aiding in the optimization of marketing strategies.
- Improvement in Lead Acquisition and Nurturing: Digital marketing tools can use CRM data to create more accurate profiles of leads and customers, improving lead nurturing strategies.
Integration with Communication Platforms and Social Media
- Managing Interactions on Social Media: Integrating CRM with social media platforms enables companies to track and manage customer interactions on these platforms.
- Improved Customer Response: Allows for quicker and more effective responses to customer inquiries and comments, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Integration with Analytical and Business Intelligence Tools
- Advanced Data Analysis: Combining CRM with analytical tools allows for in-depth analysis of customer and sales data to gain significant insights.
- Data-Driven Decision Making: Facilitates strategic decision-making based on accurate and up-to-date data.
Benefits of Integration
- Improved Operational Efficiency: Integration reduces task duplication and improves operational efficiency.
- Enhanced Customer Experience: Effective integration provides a more consistent and personalized customer experience.
- Informed Decision Making: The availability of integrated and analytical data facilitates more informed and strategic decision-making.
- Departmental Alignment: Promotes greater collaboration and alignment between different departments.
Considerations for Integration
- Selection of Compatible Tools: It’s important to choose tools that can easily integrate and complement the capabilities of the CRM.
- Change Management: Integration may require changes in business processes and employee training.
- Data Security: Ensuring data protection and compliance with privacy regulations is crucial during the integration process.
Incorporating this section into your article will provide readers with a deeper understanding of how the integration of CRM with other tools can significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of business operations, as well as customer relationships.
Common Challenges in Implementing a CRM
Implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can be a challenging process for many businesses. Below are some common challenges and recommended strategies to overcome them:
1. Resistance to Change
- Challenge: Employees may resist change, especially if they are accustomed to old systems or processes.
- Solution: Involve employees in the selection and training process. Provide proper training and clearly communicate the benefits of the new system.
2. Integration with Existing Systems
- Challenge: Integrating CRM with existing systems can be technically and logistically complicated.
- Solution: Plan the integration carefully, choosing a CRM compatible with existing systems and seeking technical advice when necessary.
3. Data Quality
- Challenge: The effectiveness of a CRM depends on the quality of the data entered into it.
- Solution: Establish data management procedures, including regular data cleaning and training employees on the importance of entering accurate and up-to-date data.
4. Underutilization of the System
- Challenge: CRM may be underutilized if employees do not understand all its capabilities.
- Solution: Provide thorough and ongoing training on the functionalities of the CRM and how they can be leveraged to improve their work.
5. Unrealistic Expectations
- Challenge: Sometimes, expectations about what CRM can achieve are too high or misguided.
- Solution: Set clear and realistic goals for CRM implementation and adjust expectations through education and communication.
6. Costs and Budget
- Challenge: Implementing CRM can be expensive, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.
- Solution: Carefully evaluate CRM options, considering scalable and cost-effective solutions, and plan a realistic budget.
7. Choosing the Wrong System
- Challenge: Choosing a CRM that does not fit the specific needs of the business.
- Solution: Perform a thorough analysis of needs before selecting a CRM, considering the opinions of all stakeholders.
8. Lack of CRM Strategy
- Challenge: Not having a clear strategy for using CRM.
- Solution: Develop a CRM strategy that aligns the system with business objectives and work processes.
9. Access and Usability Issues
- Challenge: Difficulties in access and usability can discourage users.
- Solution: Choose a CRM with an intuitive user interface and ensure it is accessible on multiple devices.
10. Maintenance and Updates
- Challenge: Keeping the system up-to-date and running smoothly can be challenging.
- Solution: Plan regular maintenance and updates, and have reliable technical support.
Addressing these common challenges with well-thought-out strategies and careful planning can help businesses maximize the benefits of their CRM system and ensure successful and efficient implementation. Including this information in your article will provide readers with a practical guide to navigating the challenges of CRM implementation.
At Dazzet, for example, we started using Excel and Google Drive. Now we use one of the many free options available.
Let’s look at some of the CRM options you can integrate for startups, e-commerce, or any size of business.
1. Excel or Google Drive Sheets
If you’re just starting with your business and have few clients but are already looking to have proper management of leads and captured customers, we recommend using Excel or Google Drive templates. This tool is practically manual, where you can create columns with the most important data you consider necessary to know and understand what your customers do, how often they make purchases, etc. It depends on you and your team to constantly update and follow up on the shared document.
Efficy CRM was founded in Belgium and is currently gaining a 5% market share in Europe, being implemented in 13 countries (Belgium, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK). It has a wide range of solutions that have allowed it to gain more than 5,500 clients.
The customer management system allows all information to be available in one place. At the same time, tasks can be created so that nothing is forgotten, which can be assigned to you and/or other users. In summary: The entire work team will be 100% connected.
- Advantages over other CRMs include:
- Integration with Outlook and Gmail
- Integration with Microsoft Office 365
- KPI Management
- Document management and storage
- Telephone support assistance
- Unlimited contacts
- It’s highly recommended, and you can compare it against other CRMs.
3. MailChimp CRM
This CRM is designed for small businesses, as it has basic resources with which you can start to have a cloud-based software. It offers a free version and several paid plans with different services available on the platform.
- MailChimp CRM offers, among others, the following functions:
- Synchronization of customer information for market segmentation.
- Creation of customizable tags to filter your audience.
- Setting up automated messages.
- Mobile app available.
Pipedrive is another cloud CRM that you can obtain for free with some basic functions and also offers four paid packages to choose from according to the needs of your business.
Some of its functions include:
- Customization of filters by stages of the conversion funnel.
- Tracking and automation of daily business objectives tasks.
- 24/7 technical support via chat or email.
- Mobile app for iOS and Android.
- Import and export of customer data.
- Tracking communications.
- Customization and sending of emails by market segmentation.
- Sales assistant.
- Process automation.
5. Hubspot CRM
This is one of the best CRM software on the market and is currently used by Dazzet. It offers a free version and a paid option with multiple functions such as:
- Analytical report dashboard.
- Tracking of deals and sales.
- Pipeline management.
- Customizable templates, email tracking, and notifications.
- Lead tracking.
- Live chat and 24/7 technical support.
- Landing page creator.
Juan Esteban Yepes