Managing customer relationships

A customer relationship manager (CRM) is necessary for businesses to manage their customer relationships. This includes current customers and new customers (prospects). Management of the relationship can include sales, service, warranty, and other interactions with customers.

Most business types need and can use CRM systems. These include business to business (B2B) companies, service companies, business to consumer companies other than retail, and many others.

Functions of CRM software

  • Track leads
  • Track prospects
  • Track sales
  • Track every interaction between the customer and your company
  • Track purchased products
  • Track future warranty renewals
  • Track service calls
  • Send marketing emails
  • Create reports by using database marketing; i.e., emailing every customer in a certain zip code about a service special
  • Keeping track of customer’s information to help in sales, such as how many kids they have, what are their interests, etc.
  • Logging a record of all interactions including phone calls and emails

Types of CRM software

There are basically two scenarios for CRM software. These include:

  1. Premise based software that all your PC workstations can access with the database on a server
  2. Cloud-based software maintained by another company that you access via a PC browser or smartphone

There a tradeoffs in deciding what type is best for your company:

  • How many customer records do you have?
  • How many users do you have?
  • Do you have an internal server system already?
  • Do you have IT resources available?
  • Do you want to spend money initially and have fewer monthly expenses?
  • Do you primarily need mobile access?

Popular CRM systems

Premise based CRM software

Cloud based CRM software

The bottom line

If you want to increase your sales, have better customer service, have information on your customers, manage your sales force, push future sales opportunities, and many other benefits, a CRM is a great addition to your company’s software tools.