CRM systems Introduction
In modern business, the need to automate various processes has become a common phenomenon. It is already becoming difficult to imagine warehouse or accounting without the use of specialized software, sales representatives use special applications for processing and sending orders to the office directly from the tablet or mobile phone, quite a large part of orders come from the site in the form of ready-to-process documents. But at the same time, relationships with customers, at least in medium and small businesses, for some reason are very often conducted without the introduction of automation and sufficient attention to accounting.
I see all this quite often, as I am constantly in contact with small and medium-sized businesses as a business consultant. And every time I have to tell my clients how to automate customer relationships, how CRM systems work, what they are, and why in a particular case it is worth choosing a particular system.
What happens if the work of the sales Department is conducted without an accounting system? Each sales Manager works as it is more convenient for him, records calls and other types of interaction with customers at his own discretion: someone-on paper, someone – in Excel tables, and someone does not consider it necessary to record the process of their work at all.
Incoming calls or requests from the site from new customers are also not recorded, it is often even difficult to understand which of the managers is engaged in the incoming request. As a result, real accounting is maintained only at the level of paid orders and shipment of goods. And how effectively the sales Department works, whether all incoming leads are processed, whether any work is carried out with already existing contacts, it is impossible to determine.
In addition, in the event of dismissal or illness of an employee, the company may lose all its unfinished negotiations and unprocessed contacts, which is also extremely undesirable for the effective work of the sales Department.
The way out of this situation is automation and standardization of customer relationship management, i.e. the introduction of a CRM system.
This solution will help:
Get a common standardized database of contacts (customers, contractors) for the company.
Effectively monitor the quality of the sales Department at any time.
Get statistics and Analytics on the effectiveness of working with leads (incoming calls, requests).
Plan to improve the quality of work and develop a business development strategy.
In General, the process of selecting and implementing a CRM system is no different from the similar work of selecting any other software. How I work on the selection and implementation of SOFTWARE, I have already described in detail in previous articles, for example, here: Choosing a software product for a client. The requirements gathering. And now I want to talk about the features of choosing CRM systems.
In this article, I will avoid advertising a particular CRM system. If someone is interested in which of them I personally use in my work, and what I am ready to recommend in this or that case, I am always ready to answer your questions individually. And here I want to talk about CRM systems in General, about what they are, who needs them and why, and how to choose a CRM system for the needs of a particular business.
What is a CRM system?
If you refer to Wikipedia, you can get the following definition:
A CRM system — Customer Relationship Management or customer relationship Management) is an application software for organizations designed to automate strategies for interacting with customers (customers), in particular, to increase sales, optimize marketing and improve customer service by storing information about customers and the history of relationships with them, establishing and improving business processes and then analyzing the results.
In fact, a CRM system can be considered any version of control and accounting that will help improve customer interaction. Even if you keep a history of calls and contacts on paper or in Excel – this can be considered a CRM system if the developed accounting and control scheme works and allows you to control all options for interacting with customers. Of course, such methods of accounting are a thing of the past, because in the modern world without effective automation, it is difficult to imagine the work of any business. Therefore, when they talk about a CRM system, they usually mean special software.
In some cases, developers introduce additional confusion in the terminology by promoting the term “CRM”. This combination of characters is not deciphered in any way, as it is a simple spelling of the English abbreviation in Russian letters. I believe that even for promotion in search engines, this term should not be used.
Software developers also often try to impose their vision of what can be called a CRM system. Usually, their list of necessary qualities of this CRM completely coincides with the option that they have implemented in their software product. In some cases, such marketing works quite clearly and obsessively, according to the principle: CRM should be such and only such (and here it is – our development!). Other developers (mostly foreign companies) do this less explicitly, just show their product and say: “This is the CRM system.”
It is necessary to understand that there are no common standards and a clear understanding of what is meant by the term CRM system. This can be any business-friendly customer relationship management system.
For example, for one of my clients, CRM is, first of all, accounting for contacts and interaction with them, he considers other features optional, since he almost does not use them. And many developers of powerful CRM platforms will believe that the concept of CRM is much broader, from their point of view, even the CRM systems of many banks will not be functional enough to be called real CRM. In fact, it all depends on the goals and scope.
So, in a small trading company, the CRM system can simply include phone numbers, email addresses and customer addresses. A beauty salon, for example, will also need to add the frequency of visits to each of the clients and the average check to this list. This information is important for successful interaction.
My personal definition is as follows:
A CRM system is any software that helps you successfully monitor, organize, and plan your customer experience.
In medium and small businesses, the most important requirement is not to lose a customer. I’ve learned this in practice. It is not so important whether birthday or New year greetings will be sent to the contact person, or how the interaction will take place. The main thing is not to lose the client, not to lose interaction, so that all the efforts that were spent on attracting him are not in vain. Therefore, it is very important to control the flow of incoming calls and requests from the site, by email, etc.
Who needs a CRM system?
Before choosing a CRM system, you need to understand whether your business needs it in principle. It often happens that someone told the business owner about the existence of such systems, or software vendors are trying to impose their product. But in fact-do you need this system?
CRM systems are necessary for any business that works directly with customers and seeks to expand the number of customers.
So, if incoming calls or requests (leads) from new customers are important in the business, if the business is making some effort to get and retain new customers, then a CRM system is necessary.
For example, an online store, wholesale company or beauty salon will not be able to work effectively without careful attention to leads (incoming requests and calls). After all, in each of these types of business, it is very important that all orders are fulfilled, buyers of goods and services are satisfied, and customer loyalty increases.
On the other hand, if your business is not interested in increasing the number of customers at this stage of development, if the loyalty of regular customers is based on long-term contracts, and all contracts with new customers are based on personal meetings, even the best CRM system will not give anything.
For example, a retail store will not use the CRM system in its work, since it is impossible to record customer contacts. Here, customer loyalty is based on product quality and service quality, i.e. personal contact with the seller. Also, the CRM system will not help in any way if the company has concluded long-term contracts for the supply of goods to a network of stores, the supplier’s capacity is barely enough to fulfill the orders of this retail network, and everyone is satisfied with this state of Affairs.
But if you develop your business, if you invest in advertising, make other efforts to attract and retain customers, then the CRM system will be an excellent assistant in your work.
What are CRM systems for?
The question of explaining complex and new things is an integral part of my profession. And often you have to explain why the client needs a CRM system. What it is, a businessman can know for himself. But at the same time, very often representatives of small and medium-sized businesses do not understand why they need it. After all, the number of customers is relatively small, the sales Department also in companies of this level consists of only a few people. And it seems that even without a CRM system, it is easier to control the work with customers. In fact, this is not the case. Very quickly after the introduction of an automated system, a huge number of shortcomings are identified, and the quality of the sales Department’s work increases significantly.