Sometimes first-time entrepreneurs keep track of their customers in spreadsheets, notebooks and even in their head. But over time, it becomes more and more difficult to control the work and not to miss anything. That is why business automation systems ー CRM have appeared. In this article we will tell you why you need them and how to choose a system that is right for you. At the end, a bonus – a big table to compare CRM.
What is CRM
The acronym for CRM or Customer Relationship Management literally translates as “customer relationship management”. It sounds complicated, but don’t be intimidated: it’s actually a clever piece of software that will make your job easier. For example, it will help you to communicate with your customers, put your sales in order and automate some routine processes.
The basic principle of CRM is to gather all the important information in one place. When a client makes a request on a website or writes in a chatbox, it goes straight into the customer management system. This is called a lead. You then go through these leads and decide what to do with them: call the customer, answer their questions, start collecting an order or simply delete them as spam. You see all requests in a single system, so no client gets lost.
Modern CRM works in your browser, smartphone and tablet. You don’t need to install any software, just log in with your password. All data is stored in a virtual warehouse, the cloud, so you can monitor your business from any location and device, you only need the Internet.
How CRM systems can help you
The primary purpose of any CRM is to make your job easier. Let’s see what they can do and how they can be useful.
Control transactions with customers
All completed orders go straight to the CRM. It’s easy to manage each request and track the status. Business is clear at a glance: you see at a glance which orders have already been delivered and who needs to be called to clarify anything. Every change is logged so you can easily reconstruct the course of events if you encounter any problems.
Keeping customer records
Customers get a CRM card with their personal data when they make their first contact. Everything you need to know about your customers is stored there, including contacts, list of purchases, returns, preferences, and even comments on Instagram, if you set up integration with social networks. All statistics are accumulated automatically.
This helps you communicate with the customer, work with repeat sales and make special offers. The program will always tell you who it is time to remind about the product, and who it is time to wish a happy birthday to. The main thing ー is not to forget to enter information into the CRM.
I started using CRM three years ago. Before that, I kept all of my contacts in an Excel spreadsheet, but it quickly grew and I was not comfortable working with repeat sales there. Everything was stored in a common list: customer data, what goods he bought – there were too many columns. And I wanted everything to be clear. So I connected myself to Bitrix24. Now I cannot imagine my life without CRM, and I am happy that I no longer work in endless Excel spreadsheets.
Keeping track of goods
The CRM helps you control everything that happens in your shop. You can create a database of items there and they are linked to each customer. Knowing how specific items are bought makes it easier to monitor balances, plan purchases and work with invoices. And in some systems it is possible to keep full warehouse records: for example, this is conveniently done in the program “MyStore”.
Accounting for remains in MyStore. You can use any filters or change table parameters. For example, you may hide this column if you do not have any stock
With CRM it is easy to analyze the results. You don’t need to manually enter information into tables: you just choose the form of the report, and the software generates it by itself. For instance, you can use charts and graphs to visually show how much customers usually order, when a sales surge occurs, or how many customers are at a certain stage of their order right now.
Each system has its own set of ready-made reports. If you don’t have enough of them, you can generate your own.
I use a good report called “Return on Goods”. It collects order data for all customers and shows which goods have been sold more. You can make a sample by any date there. I look at this report to see what is in demand.
Save time and have more time
Thanks to the CRM, all the data from various points of sale are gathered in one place. So you don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to find something important in your mail, diary or some folder on your computer.
And best of all, many things can be done automatically in the CRM – reminders of deadlines, invoices, newsletters. One such useful function is the client offloading. With one click, you can save the emails and phone numbers of all clients into a simple spreadsheet, which you can then use to fine-tune audiences for targeted advertising.