What to Look for in a Good CRM System
No business can succeed without customer management, and a good CRM system can make that task a lot easier. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the business of keeping up with all your customers and making sure they are looked after.
When done right, your customers think, “hey, that business cares more about me than all the other ones.” When done wrong, they wonder why they got an email from a company they vaguely remember.
It’s all about consistency.
Today, there are hundreds of different CRM software offerings, and all of them take a slightly different approach to how the customer relationship should be handled.
In this blog, we’ll talk about what makes a good CRM system and how you can better manage your business’s most prized asset.
Why You Need Good Customer Relationship Management
Taking care of your customers is what sets you apart as a business. It doesn’t really matter where you buy a chair, but if the salesperson at the chair store shows you how much you matter, chances are good that you’ll make another purchase with that store.
Once a customer visits your website for the first time, you should carefully plan how to keep them in your sights until they become loyal customers. This means starting with a targeted marketing campaign, tracking the resulting leads, and following up with relevant communication until you establish a better relationship.
Let’s say you send out an email blast, but only half of the emails are opened by recipients. Should you send those people part two of the campaign? Are your emails going to the spam folder?
Trying to remember this for thousands of people would be impossible for most of us, but with a good CRM, you can spend your time wisely and grow your business in the process.
What a CRM Can Do for You
Imagine having a math whiz who can keep track of every transaction and interaction involving your business. They know how long each task takes and who can handle each one best, whether that’s closing a new sale or solving a customer’s service issue.
Whenever you need a report, they can make one as quickly as you can think of what to report on.
This is the importance of a good CRM.
The right software can remind you of who needs reaching out and what happened last time you spoke with them. You can keep notes of what certain customers like or don’t like, then patiently massage the relationship until they proceed to the next step in your sales cycle.
A CRM doesn’t just serve customers, either. The reports you create will help your company’s managers see how employees spend their time and how your other relationships are working, such as how vendors are performing.
Finding the Right CRM for Your Business
There are many CRMs out there with different strengths and weaknesses. The right one for you will depend on what you’re trying to achieve and how much customization you want to have available.
Having more options isn’t always the best approach.
This is one reason iPhone users tend to stay away from Android—when there are too many options, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The same is true for CRM software.
One complaint people have about Salesforce (one of the most popular CRMs) is that it’s prohibitively tough to learn. There are so many different reports available to create—literally any metric you can think of—that outside companies have started to offer training programs for users.
Salesforce is so confusing that other businesses sprouted up just because people couldn’t learn it.
On the other hand, Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 CRM is criticized for being Microsoft making it hard to customize contacts so that users can add extra data fields. In order to stem confusion, Microsoft limits the user’s choices about how to use the software.
With a good CRM, you should be able to glean the information you need now as well as information you might need later.
Designing the Perfect Dashboard
What you need to see and observe will be different than what other businesses need. Your dashboard should be customizable so that you can drill down the metrics that matter most to you. You may not need to worry about customer retention as much as someone else does, so it wouldn’t make sense to build reports that focus on it.
When searching for a good CRM system, you should talk with a company that has created databases like the one you want to build. Have they dealt with account data and built reports specifically to help specialists in that field. In the case of Boon, recruiters were having a hard time finding data for just what they needed. Instead, they were just a cog in a larger corporate wheel.
The app was built so that recruiters had their own workspace, and it has since become a popular recruiting tool across the country. Boon is a good example of an app where design included access to just the essentials for its users, rather than a broad sample of data columns.
Pricing that Doesn’t Skyrocket with More Users
CRMs weren’t always as prevalent as they are today. Before, people used to buy one license for their whole business to use. Now, these programs charge a monthly subscription fee per user per month. It can get extremely expensive if you have too many employees using the software, which is why you should look for a CRM that doesn’t jack up the price with use.
Many programs offer pricing tiers that stay within your budget while allowing users to keep track of their tasks with ease. Maybe you prefer to pay a bigger sum upfront and have a team of software developers custom builds one for you.
Of course, if you really love a particular software, it’s worth it to pay the extra money and get what you want.
Customer Support that Actually Helps
Earlier we mentioned how Salesforce has entire training programs devoted to helping users learn it. Your CRM doesn’t have to be that complicated, but if it is, you need to know there’s someone who can help.
To find out if your CRM provider will be available, it helps to read reviews.
Find out if it costs extra to speak with a human being on the phone to help solve your concerns. Some companies will connect you with a client success manager who can handle all issues directly, while others charge a monthly customer service subscription fee.
They Fit Your Business Size
If your business is still starting out, you probably don’t need a CRM that can handle tens of thousands of accounts. Instead, find one that matches your company’s scope and the way business flows for you.
Custom CRMs can help you plan out marketing campaigns and retention practices that are well-suited to your business style.
Another benefit of working with a smaller provider is more attentive customer service. For example, if you work with a local software developer, you’ll have an easier time asking how the CRM works and convincing them to make changes to your program.
The Software Works Across All Platforms
Your CRM has to be accessible wherever your employees are. If it isn’t, time-sensitive issues could cause your customers to find another vendor who will handle their concerns faster. You should be able to access your CRM at a moment’s notice, so make sure there’s a native app that works for your phone as well as your computer.
This also affects reporting. If your CRM exports data that other platforms can’t use, you’re stuck using that program for the rest of that report’s life. While most of these programs export .csv and .xml files, some only create reports online or as a PDF.
Why Should You Invest in a Good CRM?
This report says that CRM returns $8.71 for every dollar spent on the program. That’s a hefty return.
Your CRM isn’t just a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of your business—it offers a centralized location that unifies all your employees and makes it easy to keep track of tasks, deadlines, and relationships.
Save yourself time and money.
By investing in a good CRM, you’re establishing a strong infrastructure for your business, and it will serve you in the years ahead.
Take tours of the available CRM providers to see what they have to offer.
In many cases, just knowing what’s out there will help you plan out how this kind of software can help your business, and that means you’ll have ideas you can bring to a software developer and start building something that suits you better.
David is the Co-founder and CEO of Goji Labs. David loves working closely with passionate founders to understand their vision and help them build beautiful applications while focusing on risk-mitigation. As an author, he focuses on informative and educational blogs that enable our clients to make the most of their businesses.