August 06, 2013

Contactually Answers: What is CRM?

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In this modern age of having software to manage every aspect of a business, you've probably stumbled upon the term "CRM" a few times, and, with any luck, you know that it stands for "Customer Relationship Management." Those words individually make sense, but together, what do they mean? What is CRM? The concept of the CRM is actually pretty easy. It represents two things: the software and the strategy.

The CRM software


The software side of CRM is the easier of the two. Popular CRM software include Salesforce, Infusionsoft, Nimble, and SugarCRM. And while there are a litany of others our there, those are just a few of the heavy hitters.



From Zoho CRM, here's one way to look at the CRM cycle.



Now, there are a few things you should be able to do with any given CRM:

    • Track conversations - In a relationship management tool, you'd need conversations to be tracked for later review or as a way to remember details. And now that CRMs have become more feature rich, social media conversations are also tracked.

    • Customer data tracking/management - Customer data is invaluable. What did the customer buy from you? What's their phone number? Are there any documents related to this customer?

    • Reports - Track your performance. There's no use spending a ton of effort without knowing how well you or your team is doing.

    • Workflows - Automate processes. It's a serious time saver.



The CRM strategy


OK. You know what it does -- but how do you use it? The strategy of customer relationship management can further be broken down into two large groups: sales/marketing and customer service.

As a sales person or marketer, it's important to keep track of anyone in your pipeline from before they're a lead all the way to the time they become a customer and beyond. The CRM process (coupled with great software) is what will allow you to do just that, whether it be through aiding your inbound marketing or selling efforts.

If in a team, you'll be able to see real-time data on performance, delegate accounts among employees, and spend fewer hours overall playing around with data so you can focus on what matters most: relationship management.

When used as a means for customer service, the notion of CRM changes a tad. Rather than working with a sales pipeline, you're working to deliver excellent customer service, which could be through email, social media, or by going where the questions are being asked. The process from problem to resolution benefits from the automation delivered by a CRM.