Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is no longer an optional add-on for sales-driven businesses and professionals – it is a necessity! Once you decide to harness the power of CRM to attract and retain customers, you then come to the decision-making stage. There is a plethora of options out there, and it can be confusing to make a choice. In a world where consumer loyalty is the prize, choosing the right CRM system for your particular situation, requirements, and goals is crucial to achieve success.
There are four broad types of CRM systems: operational, analytical, strategic, and collaborative. Let’s take a look at each of these. Operational CRM systems focus on computerizing, enhancing, and improving services. A few different applications help automate processes related to marketing, selling, and service. Through marketing automation, campaign management assesses specific customer information to develop targeted communications – either at an individual level or in a multichannel environment. Campaign quality and results can be automated and monitored consistently. In sales-force automation, the system identifies customers and maintains related data, which can be used for lead generation. Service automation involves managing the service-oriented aspect of a company and includes all customer interactions, e.g., direct mail, call centers, and blogs. All customer data is logged for future reference.
Analytical CRM systems deal with the analysis and operations of an organization’s back-office. The aim is to deeply analyze customer information and data to uncover patterns, understand trends, and provide forecasts. By integrating data from different channels and utilizing the results to improve CRM efficiency, analytical CRM systems improve a company’s customer-related decisions and interactions.
Strategic CRM systems concentrate on building knowledge of the customer in order to improve interactions and forge long-term relationships. This type of CRM requires a lot of commitment as it involves nearly every department of the business: sales, marketing, distribution, finance, etc. The next step is building a valuable project team, made up of experts with decision-making power. Finally, the requirements of the business are assessed through questionnaires and surveys to determine the actual expectations.
Collaborative CRM systems involve synchronizing and integrating customer interactions and communication channels (e.g., email, phone) so that customers may be referenced in an organized and consistent manner. Information is shared across departments in order to best meet customers’ needs and expectations.
Once you have chosen the CRM system that suits your organizational structure and objectives, you can explore the possibility of open source CRM systems. This is particularly useful for companies that have unique requirements that may not be addressed through standard software. Programming may be handled in-house or through the software provider. There are a number of reputed open source CRM software packages available. One the best options is SugarCRM, which offers a complete package of fully integrated modules, including customer service contact tracking, sales tracking, lead generation, mobile apps, analytics, and a custom report writer. The price ranges from USD 35-150 per user per month. Another great package is SplendidCRM, which is written in a Microsoft environment and is therefore suitable for companies that use Windows. At USD 10-40 per user per month, it is an extremely affordable choice. Both SugarCRM and SplendidCRM are more suitable for small businesses, as they lack the scalability and complexity required by midsize or large companies.
For midsize companies, Xtuple offers a flexible solution that is compatible across diverse platforms. User-friendly and inexpensive, this software also includes manufacturing-related functionalities such as inventory tracking. Finally, CiviCRM focuses primarily on specialized report writing, tracking contributions, donor interactions, and fund-raising, making it a perfect choice for not-for-profit or political organizations.
Apart from these, there are various other open source as well as web-based CRM software solutions available in the market. Considering your business’ size, industry, budget, and goals is an integral aspect of choosing the correct solution!